Paul Swift Photography: Lancashire’s premier award-winning wedding snapper talks tricks of the trade

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Winning an award in your chosen field is an impressive thing at the best of times. The fact that Lancashire-born wedding photographer Paul Swift overcame a crowded field of over 18,000 of his fellow snappers to be named the Hitched Wedding Awards photographer of the year for the second year running is all the more impressive.

But, for Paul, the awards pale into insignificance when compared to the verdicts of his subjects - the people whose special days he captures for a living. “Winning awards is great, but it doesn’t mean as much to me personally as a nice word from a happy couple,” he says. “The emotion in people’s voices - that’s what tells me that I’m doing the job right.”

Wigan-born Paul loves his job, but it’s a profession he almost fell into by accident. Previously working in shipping and supply chains, he laboured under the false assumption that the camera didn’t like him for years - he doesn’t even like how he looks in his own wedding pictures - before being bitten by the lens bug and realising he had a knack for it.

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“Fifteen years ago, I picked up a camera and started playing around with it,” explains Paul, 45. “From then on, I grew into different genres starting with landscapes and things around the house but, after a while, I wasn’t getting what I wanted from it. That’s when I got an SLR camera, which is when things really started.

Paul Swift on the jobPaul Swift on the job
Paul Swift on the job

“I did my kids’ portraits and put them on Facebook and, next thing I knew, other people were asking me to do theirs,” he adds. “A while after that, somebody asked me to do their wedding and my first thought was ‘oh, my God’, but I decided I’d jump in the deep end and go for it. I went away and studied and practised, so I think I was ready!”

And so began Paul’s career as the man tasked with capturing the innate magic of a wedding day. He relishes the job of getting the right shot, angle, and moment, and is well-known in the industry as one of its most professional and reliable photographers. Simply put, he makes couples feel at ease and always gets the shot.

“Shooting a wedding was nerve-wracking to begin with,” says Paul. “But there’s a lot of pride in the work.” Was it a hard decision to go full-time? “I had to jump when I jumped or I wouldn't have done it. I’ve been doing weddings for 15 years and it’s practically been a full-time job for 10 years, but I took the plunge to go full-time five years ago.

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“It's the absolute dream,” adds Paul, who lives in Rishton. “People say they can’t stand Mondays but, for me, it’s the best day of the week. And I still get those butterflies before a wedding now - the day I stop getting those is the day I’m not enjoying it anymore. I feel that way because I want to impress people.

An example of Paul's workAn example of Paul's work
An example of Paul's work

“It’s a really special feeling when you know you’ve nailed it, you come away from the wedding just buzzing,” he continues. “With everything that’s happening in the world, a wedding is a closed-off slice of goodness where you can forget about everything else and have fun.”