Interview: Luke Hayden, wedding photographer

Lake Hayden

Luke Hayden is an Essex-based professional wedding photographer, whose documentary style has proved a smash with many brides and grooms. Here, he lets us in on his technique and the gear he uses on the big day. 


How did you get into photography?

I used to make amateur short films with the family Handycam when I was younger, and I guess that kicked off the addiction to recording film and photo. I think my first real inspiration, and reason for buying a camera, was seeing the unusual and really brilliant pictures my friend was taking when we were at college together. I wanted to do the same and invested in a Sony V1 (below).

Sony V1

Do you ever use film or are you completely digital?

When I’m shooting weddings I pretty much only use digital but I have been known to take a quick Polaroid. I have a bunch of film cameras including a medium format Yashica MAT 124 that I love.

What’s in your kit bag for a typical wedding?

On a typical wedding I carry the following:

  • 2x Canon EOS 5D Mark II's
  • Fujifilm X100
  • Fujifilm Instax Mini
  • Canon EF 35mm/1.4L USM
  • Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM
  • Sigma 24 f/1.8 EX DG
  • Sigma 85 f/1.4 EX DG HSM
  • Yongnuo YN-560 II flash
  • Canon Speedlite 430ex II flash
  • CN-160 LED Video Light
  • Think Tank Retrospective 20 camera bag
  • and a bunch of 8GB CompactFlash Cards.

Luke Hayden - Kit bag

Do you still work in a similar way to when you started out or have you had to adapt to any changes?

My style is very different now to my first wedding, although I think I still work in a similar way. It’s the only way I know how to work. I do try to be more aware of light nowadays, though.

You appear to rely on natural light for your work – is this a conscious decision?

Yes, I choose to shoot with natural light. I much prefer the look of images that are shot this way. Keeping things nice and simple is very important to me.

Luke Hayden

What’s been your most memorable assignment?

My most memorable assignment would have to be a wedding I shot this year in Ireland. Everything was perfect! The weather was great, the people were lovely and the venue was amazing. The couple were American so the day unfolded differently to what I’m used to. They have a thing called 'the first look' where the bride and groom see each other before the ceremony. This was great as it gave me more time with them for portraits.

Luke Hayden

Have you had any wedding day disasters?

During the ceremony of a recent wedding the focus on my lens seized up on me. I had backup gear so this wasn’t a problem, I just had to shoot with a longer lens for a minute.

Luke Hayden

Do you have any photographic influences?

One of my biggest influences would have to be Sean Flanigan. He’s the reason I shoot weddings today. I’m also influenced by photographers I get to work with - people like Sachin Khona, F5 Photography and John Day to name a few. These guys have been a massive help on my journey as a photographer.

Luke Hayden

Outside of weddings and portraiture, what other kinds of subjects do you enjoy photographing?

I’ve been shooting some landscapes this year. I got to go snowboarding back in March and spent my last day just walking around photographing the mountains. I really love the results I got from this.

Luke Hayden

Do you have any projects at the moment, or any future plans?

I’m planning on going to Russia next year to see family and I want to document their way of living. Its a very different lifestyle and I would love to try and capture it through my camera.

What do you think makes a good photographer?

Being able to see good light and seeing a moment before it happens. If you can do these two things you'll get some killer shots.

Luke Hayden

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt through your work?  

If you can see it you can shoot it. Don’t be put off by bad light - try to make it work for you.

Luke Hayden


Luke is currently booking destination weddings for 2014. You can browse more of his work on his website



Related links

How to shoot better portraits

How to get started as a wedding photographer