First and foremost, I’m a husband to my gorgeous wife, Cristel, and dad to my two beautiful daughters Charlotte (7) and Natalia (5). After that, I’m a Raleigh-based wedding and portrait photographer. I was born and raised in the UK and spent 7 years living in Spain before moving to the USA back in 1999. From my accent, I sound like I just got here though.
How long have you been a photographer and what sparked your interest to become a wedding photographer?
I have always had an interest in the visual arts and studied History of Art and Cinema at university. My interest in photography was really rekindled when Cristel and I learnt we were expecting our first child back in early 2008. I immediately went out and bought a “proper” camera and immersed myself in the entire subject. From there, my friends saw my work through social media and asked me to photograph their families and weddings for them. It all snowballed from there really; people saw I offered something different from the norm and it resounded with them.
What do you love most about being a wedding photographer?
I love being part of such an exciting, emotional and joyful day for the bride and groom and their friends and family. I feel honoured to be brought into the inner circle of a very intimate and personal time in someone’s life and documenting that day for them. From a social aspect, I really enjoy the interaction with everyone on the day, but I do tend to counterbalance that with not being too imposing or intrusive; I’m not really interested in injecting myself into the proceedings and directing someone’s wedding day to conform to an idealized idea I might have of how it should all look. For me, it’s all about getting at the soul of the bride and groom, capturing the moments honestly and truthfully yet in an aesthetically pleasing and artistic way.
How would you describe your style?
About 95% of what I do is photojournalistic from the standpoint that I do not direct the day at all and focus on an authentic documentary-style approach. For the portrait side of things, however, a certain amount of direction is needed, but I aim to make it as authentic as possible. Simply put, I find the light and the location, put my subjects into that scenario and offer some direction in terms of an idea of something to think or talk about. Again, it’s about capturing my subject’s personality, not about me having them try to pose or interact in a way that doesn’t represent who they really are.
What makes Joe Payne Photography unique?
What type of couple do you work best with?
I seem to attract clients that want something a little different to the norm and so they tend to trust me to do my thing. Couples that are looking for something beyond the cliché, something that isn’t cheesy, something that truly captures the essence of their personalities and unique aspects of their wedding day. Those are the types of clients I tend to find myself working with.
What happens after a couple submits an inquiry to you?
Most of the time, I follow up the initial inquiry with an intro call where the bride and I can get to know each other a little. I really think it’s important we click personality-wise as we’re going to be together for quite a while on the big day! From there, I like to learn about the bride and groom and what they’re looking for with their coverage so I can put together some tailor-made photography collections to meet their needs.
Do you travel? If so, do you have limitations on where you will go?
Yep! Despite, the “Raleigh wedding photographer” tag, I travel pretty much anywhere and have shot weddings across North Carolina, Ohio, Indiana, Virginia, New York and Jamaica.
What is a typical day on the scene like?
There is no typical day! All weddings are different, but I normally start out with the bride and her entourage at the salon or wherever they are getting ready. From there, I follow the day as the bride and groom want to plan it and leave when the party is over and the bride and groom have made their exit.
When can couples expect to see the finished work?
I average around 4-6 weeks after the wedding to provide proofs to my clients. Every image I present is hand finished and polished. From there, I upload to Dropbox, burn USB drives and design albums as and when the brides give me the OK on their selections.
What should every couple know or do before they book a photographer?
i) All photographers offer their own unique vision and have varying levels of skill. I would really look at which style matches your preferences: do you want a stylized version of your day or a documentary style? ii) Chat with them or get together with them to ensure you click on a personal-level. iii) How long has the photographer been in business? Do they have insurance? Do they pay taxes? What kind of gear do they have?, etc. There are a lot of people entering the market these days with entry-level consumer cameras and very little skill and experience. This is a recipe for disaster when shooting in challenging situations such as churches and reception halls in low light and no chance for a second take. You get what you pay for, so it’s better to pay more to get a quality product that will last down the years. Otherwise, why bother having wedding photos at all?
What is the best advice you have for engaged couples searching for the 'picture perfect' photographer?
Look at their portfolio in-depth and get a feeling for the consistency of the style of their work. If you want “safe” photos then go with the people that churn out the exact same kinds of images every wedding. If you want more personal photos reflecting the idiosyncrasies of your special day, then go with a documentary-style photographer and let them do their thing.
How can brides get in touch with you?
By email at or through the contact section of my website at joepayneweddingphotography.com. I’m also active on Facebook at www.facebook.com/raleighweddingphotographer.