Wedding photographer Luther Hartog knows like no other how to capture a unique day in an original way. For years, he has been creating exceptional images of the wedding couple, the location and the guests. His photos always convey beauty and atmosphere, which is why has won several awards. He tells us about his passion and his way of working.
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I always like to quote my wife: "He experiences everything so real and pure. He feels things with every fibre of his being. His emotions are very pronounced. From intensely happy to wildly enthusiastic, from incredibly open and spontaneous to highly outraged. Sometimes he can be intensely sad for a while, but he's always upbeat or head-strong again in no-time. Luther really lives in the moment and by the day.
He can be deeply moved by anything he comes across on a day: good music, a beautiful image, injustice, spontaneous and funny moments, food and drinks, a good movie, and chance encounters. We both have the same kind of humour. We can be silly with each other and have already laughed away many hours together. That makes us very relaxed and care-free."
How long have you been photographing and how did you get into it?
I started photographing a long time ago, during my Media technology studies. I was mostly interested in imagery, and photography is an excellent medium to create this.
What characterises your photography style?
What people always tell me, is that my images feel right. They are peaceful, yet something happens that people are moved by. I love contrast, moody atmospheres, silhouettes and colours (black-and-white is also colour for me). So, a relaxed, creative, and story-minded photographer.
How would you describe a typical workday of yours?
From April to October, I get up early every day and live from wedding to wedding. My social life is at an absolute zero during these months. On Fridays and Saturdays I shoot weddings, and in the days after I make a selection of the photos and edit those. On top of that, running your own business is a full-time endeavour too. Fortunately, I have my wife who handles most of the marketing and making the wedding albums.
Wherein lies the challenge for you as a photographer?
To tell the story of that day as genuinely and creatively as possible, every wedding again.
Which equipment do you usually use?
I use two Nikon D750s. One always has a 35mm lens, because I'm so attached to that one. It's the lens that captures what I see. On the other Nikon I then use varying lenses (24mm, 50mm or 70-200mm).
Which photo are you most proud of, and why?
Oh, that is such a difficult choice... haha. At the moment, I would have to say this photo, not because it got me nominated for the BFFA (you can vote for it on www.bffa.nl), but mostly because the story behind says a lot about how I work as a wedding photographer. Read along:
It happened in my own town, the beautiful Amersfoort. The guests and I were waiting for the grand entrance of the wedding couple at the town hall. So far, nothing really that would make you go, "Wow Luther, that is really exceptional!"
No, not really. That is, until a lorry stopped for the wedding couple in front of me. They rolled down the window and uttered that long-awaited question: "Do you want to go up with me?" It wasn't a regular lorry, but a cherry picker. Let's call the driver Rupert.
I didn't hesitate and got in the bucket with the helpful Rupert, to go up. But alas, we were too heavy together. It wasn't me of course, haha. Rupert enjoys the beers a bit too much. For a second, I thought that that was it then, but the helpful Rupert gave me a flash course "operating a cherry picker". In no-time, I was up 20 meters in the air. The crowd kept cheering: "Higher, higher!", but I thought it was time to wait for the perfect photo-op now. The wedding couple got out of the car. Veil gets stuck on the door of the car. A couple of friends make sure that the bride's dress is untangled again. And bam! There you go. Why does this photo say so much about the way I work? It's mostly about me taking the risk of not being close to the action of THE moment. If I see a chance to take an unusual type of photo, I seize it.
We are very curious as to your most beautiful photography experience. Could you tell us something about this?
Two years ago, I was shooting a wedding in South Africa, and people over there are so warm and loving. I was really a part of the group of people that were invited. That felt so good. Much more important than winning any of those awards that are to be won in the field of wedding photography.
Who or what is your source of inspiration when it comes to photography?
Josef Koudelka mostly, and other than that, I get inspired by music (Radiohead, Sufjan Stevens), films (Donnie Darko, There Will Be Blood) and TV shows (Stranger Things, Westworld).
Do you have any tips for beginning photographers? What are the do's and dont's?
What I think is most important of all, is finding your own style. That sounds like a cliché, but there are so many wedding photographers that look to their colleagues for inspiration, and I don't think that makes you very happy in the end. That's why you should find a good mentor, that is always there for you and and your process, and will take you on a quest to find out what is important to you and your photography.