Wedding marches to running men: photographer Tim Moolman on the importance of versatility

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Tim Moolman is one of those unusual professionals who manage to work across two vastly different areas of photography and do both extraordinarily well. He is both a highly acclaimed action photographer and a wedding photographer, and he balances both with ease to produce images that are always spectacular.

“I have always loved art, but I sucked at drawing, so I wanted to study photography when I got out of school but I ended up working with computers instead. Then, about 12 years ago, I bought a small two megapixel point and shoot camera and whole bunch of photography books. I wanted to get a job as a photographer, so I did,” says Moolman.

Moolman is a natural storyteller who understands that a good photograph has narrative. And he understands his subjects implicitly. Most of his younger years were spent on a skateboard, which he says has helped developed his sense of timing when looking for the crucial frame. He says he enjoys the challenge of anticipating a moment and freezing time to convey a story.

Bob Burnquist skateboarding at the Maloof Money Cup.

If sports shooting requires a snake-like patience that’s about staying prepared and knowing the right moment to strike, wedding photography happens at a very different sort of pace and sense of calm.

“I’m a people person and people tend to be at their happiest at weddings. I shoot my weddings from a documentary angle which is very different to the norm,” he says. “For me it’s about watching people’s reactions and anticipating every moment. I also keep the number of weddings I shoot to less than ten a year, that keeps me fresh and makes each wedding an enjoyable, unique event.”

Moolman says that he draws influence from so many people, but the person who influenced his approach the most was Ian Clarke. He taught him that a good photographer should be able to photograph anything, press, sport, weddings, studio and wildlife, competently.

“I try new things every time I have a shoot. I look at other photographers work and try to figure out what their technique or process was, and I read a lot about new techniques online. I don’t want to sound arrogant, but technically I can work most things out. So I really reach out for inspiration, that’s what sometimes runs dry,” he says.

Making the images is only half of the job, the real challenge is to ensure that your workflow is good and does not get in the way of your success.

Tablet photography

“I’ll use a wedding as an example. My workflow begins with downloading and backing all the raw files up. Then I’ll import them into Lightroom and sync this with Lightroom mobile,” says Moolan. After this he can sit back and make his first working selection from his iPad. After the initial selection he edits almost exclusively in Lightroom and once converted to JPEG will backup twice again before delivering to the client.

“For shoots that require a quicker turn around time I’ll skip the Lightroom mobile/iPad part,” he adds.

A professional photographer needs to have gear that he can trust and that he knows will work for him every time. In Moolman’s bag you will find; a Canon 1D Mk3, Canon 5D Mk2, Canon G16 and an iPhone 5s. Lenses include Canon 24 f1.4, Canon 17-40 f4, Canon 50 f1.4, Canon 85 f1.8, Canon 70-200 f2.8, Canon fisheye 15 f2.8. A Manfroto tripod, two Canon 580ex flashes and a 550ex flash.

The clock strikes 12: a New Year’s celebration and wedding rolled into one.

Out of all of this is favourite piece of kit is his Canon 24mm f1.4, “It’s fast and wide which suits my shooting style. The large aperture allows me to shoot in low light situations and isolate subjects but still gives me a large field of view,” he says.

Getting Moolman to decide on his favourite image was not an easy task, but he did manage to pick two, eventually. “I have images from skateboarding and weddings and press work where the story behind the image is as important as the image to me,” he says. “My photograph of Bob Burnquist skateboarding at the Maloof Money Cup, is spot on technically and tells a great story,” he says a little reservedly.

As for his favourite wedding image, “I like spontaneity and the image of Ella Bella and Mark kissing at their wedding as the clock strikes 12 for New Years,” he adds.

Moolman says that one of the best things about being a professional photographer means that he can work from home and see his young family every day, sometimes they even get to travel with him.

“Through my work I meet new, exciting people all the time and push myself mentally and physically to outdo my previous work. It’s never boring, has unlimited potential for travel and discovery and grants me a creative outlet I so desperately need.

“Plus it’s just so cool to write down ‘photographer’ as your occupation whenever you get the chance,” he adds with a huge grin on his face.



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