Finding the right photographer to capture your wedding day is so much more than the photos or the price and with Keyhole Studios, you get so much more.
Back in 2003, owner Kris McDonald decided to turn his passion of photographer into his profession and has literally spent every day since building his company, Keyhole Studios with his wife Eugene and his dedicated team of staff, including Stephen who has been by his side, looking after sales, marketing and admin, from day one.
Keyhole Studios have now become one of the largest photo and film companies in Liverpool and have built up a reputation for producing professional photographers and emotive films and Kris strongly believes the key to a successful career is whatever your passion is.
We’ve worked with Keyhole on many occasions and we have booked them for photo shoots for wedding magazines through to commercial filiming of large events. We have witnessed their passion first hand and the team work between themselves is second to none.
We asked Keyhole to photograph and film the latest photo shoot at The Vicarage as we knew they would capture exactly what we were looking for – attention to detail, photos that capture the atmosphere of the venue and made you want to see more, the emotion of the wedding ceremony and the beauty of the dress and props.
Inbetween filming, we asked Kris and Eugene about their company, their passion and their dreams for the future:
What do you love about wedding photography?
Weddings are such a special day, it’s a honour to be present throughout a couples wedding. We get to experience almost the entire day with the couple, from the early morning, the ceremony, the speeches, the evening celebrations. The day is crammed with emotion and we are there with our cameras capturing all of these once in a lifetime events.
As a professional photographer and film maker its rare for us to have such a natural environment to capture. In our commercial career most of the events are staged, with great detail put into the planning, preparation and execution of every frame.
In contrast weddings are natural throughout the day – we are very much a fly on the wall. The idea of observational image capturing is something we are used too in producing documentary material for commercial and broadcast clients, however we still have to create an over-arching structure to the film, whereas with weddings, the structure is determined by the couple and we simply capture the event as it happens – and this is the natural documentation of the creative process we love most of all!
What is your favourite part of the day to photograph?
For couples who are fortunate enough to have their parents as part of their big day, one of my favourite moments to capture is when the Father of the Bride sees his Daughter in the dress for the first time. For me this is a magical moment which openly displays the culmination of years of parenthood, childhood dreams and year upon year of planning. Its one of the most emotional moments throughout the day and a image which captures a story years in the making.
How important is it to get to know the couple first?
Ensuring couples and their photographer know each other prior the wedding is essential. Initially it is important that the couple chose a photographer who has the style and ability to capture their wedding in the way they desire but it is also vitally important for the photographer to have an understanding of the couple and their wedding.
For instance, almost all families have underlying politics which it is essential that the photographer is aware of. We also need to understand a little more about the wedding itself, so we have a chat with the couple about how they see their day unfolding and talk through the entire day in detail. Couples plan every element of their big day in great detail, so its important we are aware of all these small details, which come together to create the overall wedding, so we don’t miss them.
Most importantly we as photographers need to give the couple enough confidence so as the can relax in our presence. We are at the wedding for almost the entire day, we want all of our couples to feel comfortable and not feel conscious of our presence. After all the best images are gathered from completely natural situations, and it can be uncomfortable when a person is stood in the corner with a big camera, lens and supporting equipment. Its regularly said ‘we didn’t even know you where there!’ And this is exactly what we want to hear, we want to a silent, unobtrusive entity in the day capturing all of the key moments.
There are many newly engaged couples just starting their wedding planning, what would you recommend they look for when choosing a photographer?
When choosing a photographer first of all I would recommend considering your budget. Planning a wedding can be a very expensive task and budgets can quickly grow. Its important to realise that there are thousands of photographers to choose from, all of us essentially do the same thing. We all have cameras and we all capture images of weddings. It can be very hard to tell the difference between wedding photographers and additionally baffling why their costs differ so greatly.
From here I would ask to look at a full wedding the photographer has captured in the past, see images they have captured from the start of the day through to the end of the evening. This will give you a sense of the style and quality they are capable of capturing, from here you can make the judgement if the style matches your requirements.
I would also explore the status of the photographer, personally I would view booking a wedding supplier with the exact scrutiny and care I do when calling a gas engineer to work in my house. I want to make sure they are qualified, able to complete the job to a standard I am happy with and have the infrastructure and experience to ensure I am in good hands as a customer.
For me experience is key, I don’t think there are many situations we haven’t encountered as professional photographers/film makers. We have used our years of experience to build a system of support, back ups and infrastructure to enable the best possible outcome for all scenarios. There really is no substitute for experience and during events such as a wedding there is no going back to recapture a moment missed, so I would say make sure you choose carefully, take your time and explore all of your options.
What is different about Keyhole to other photographers?
Keyhole is different to pretty much all wedding photographers on Merseyside. We began our journey from the bottom, attending college and university to learn the art of film making. We started our business out of a passion for images and from an early age dedicated our lives to the process. We initially established two companies, Keyhole Productions and Keyhole Studios. Keyhole Productions is commercial and broadcast production, and in this guise we have worked all over the world for companies such as Nissan, Red Row Homes, NHS, BMW, Aramco, Vertu, Arrivia. We have flown the globe creating content for commercial clients and produced multiple items for television.
Whilst working on these projects our wedding photography and videography business began to grow rapidly, possibly because the experience and investment we were able to generate from working on high level productions filtered through to the work we were doing on weddings. Allowing us to offer a service which is pretty unique in the wedding industry.
We have a full time member of staff, Steven, whose sole responsibility is to look after our wedding clients. He is there to answer any pressing questions, direct you to any advice you are seeking but above all communicate.
Myself and my wife are the two photographers and we have two full time film makers who also work across the commercial projects.
We are based in a custom built studio which we own and designed purposely for our needs as wedding photographers and film makers and our business has been build on our success, no outside investment, rich parents or lottery wins created what we have built, just hard work, passion and creativity has allowed us to constantly invest and grow.
So much so that we have grown an additional business, Keyhole Motors, offering our clients access to some of the most unusual wedding cars available!
Describe your style of photography?
Essentially our style of photography is natural and creative. My passion for images began when I first watched the Martin Scoursese film Mean Streets, I loved the rawness of the film and picking the item apart to understand the creative elements of film making. From here I fell involve with the documentary style of filmmaking, in particular Nick Broomfield.
This natural, observational and creative flame still exists within me today, and every wedding I shoot I approach in the same way I would if I were creating a item for the BBC. Our overarching approaching is creative images with a natural approach.
You also own Keyhole Motors, what made you start this venture?
My first love is film and photography, followed very closely by cars!
As Keyhole Productions we have worked closely with many of the main manufactures in the world, producing items in France from Renault, Geneva for a selection of organisations and Monte Carlo for Infiniti.
In 2013 we had recently returned from a production at Silverstone as guests of Lamborghini. The shoot was a huge success and the Italian supercar manufactures impeccable professionalism and standards had added fire to our passion for our own business.
We had a weekend of weddings with our first couple were getting married in a church, after the ceremony the couple walked down the aisle and into the courtyard of the church where they were met by a wedding car driver who explained the ceremony had overran and the hire period of the vehicles was about to expire. As such they would need to pay an additional £100 or the car company would have to leave immediately. They turned to me to ask for advice and I was in shock, I didn’t know what to suggest. The couple were left with the dilemna of leaving their wedding ceremony without speaking to their guests first and without taking the photographs we had discussed or pay an extra £100…. the father of the bride ended up being driven by the wedding car driver, in the wedding car to a nearby cash machine and returned him just in time for the group photograph!
An isolate incident I thought, however the very next day we were to encounter another unforeseen expense relating to wedding cars….
This time in order capture images of the bride and groom inside the wedding car there was going to be a £60 facilitation fee from the wedding car company.
I must say these are two different companies but it was the first time we had ever encountered such additional costs and witnessing the confusion and unnecessary stress caused by these unusual fees left me at a loss, especially after witnessing the high-level service Lamborghini had been dishing out a couple of days previously.
It got us thinking and at our weekly team meeting we all sat down to discuss the weddings and what had happened. We pondered what advice we could give our clients to make them aware of the potential additional costs they may face ad we realised that we could offer a great wedding car experience – with our passion for cars and success of of our continually growing wedding photography and film business we decided we would it ourselves and provide a wedding car service alongside out photo and film service.
The aim was simple, provide great cars, no additional costs, and above all the couple come first.
We wanted to make the service a little more Lamborghini! Nothing is too much trouble for our drivers and as all our drivers are close family friends or family they understand the reasons why we started the business and the frustrations it born from and deliver the high standards that we always strive for in everything we do.
We’ve built a fleet of 11 wedding cars in this relatively short period and have a new vehicle joining our fleet in the next 2 months – and our couples have loved the additional service we now offer.
If you weren’t a photographer, what would you love to do?
I know nothing other than photography and film. I decided I would do this as a profession in 2003 and have spent almost every day since working towards building Keyhole. I believe passion is key to a successful career and whatever your passion is you should fulfil the dream. My main passion is imagery and storytelling, followed by cars. I get to spend my days using some of the best cameras in the world, capturing images and telling stories for people all over the globe. Whilst driving and owning cars I could only dream about a few years ago. So for me there is nothing else, I’m living the dream!
IMAGES FROM THE VICARAGE PHOTO SHOOT
For more images read the full blog
OTHER KEYHOLE STUDIO IMAGES
Get in touch with Keyhole Studios to book them for your wedding as soon as you can as 2021/2022 dates are filling up fast: