It’s the raw, unchoreographed frames that move us with their candour. Unguarded captures that stir the senses as well as the soul, inciting an emotional response, or prompting us to relive a moment as if we were right back in it. While there is an intoxicating magic that spills from photographs carefully planned or captured through an editorial lens, it’s the documentary-style frames that embed their presence into our lives. They’re the captures placed into our albums, displayed on our mantles, and shared amongst friends and family.
That said, finding a wedding photographer that delicately dances the line between documentary and editorial is key for images that pour with both emotion and style. New Zealand’s Keryn Sweeney of Captured By Keryn is one such photographer whose work beautifully balances the two. Her frames are cinematic yet unrehearsed, stylishly composed, yet honest. Every shot is palpable with feeling while steeped in a chic aesthetic. Keryn artistically captures a wedding’s real moments alongside its elegant details, crafting a poetic story awash with authenticity.
We caught up with Keryn to hear more about her incredible work, uncovering what drives her, what inspires her, and what advice she gives to couples looking for their perfect photographer.
“There’s power in being able to tell a visual story through photography – it is the authenticity – the authentic recording of an event. I’ve definitely been inspired by other documentary photographers like Brassai and Annie Leibovitz – there is a whole world of incredible documentary photographers out there.”
Of all creative mediums, why photography? How did you fall into the art form?
It was always going to be something creative. I used to spend hours sketching and painting from when I was really young, probably copying my older brother as little sisters do. I was given a camera one Christmas when I was around nine and began taking what I thought at the time, were works of art. I decided when I was fourteen I wanted to do it as a career, I hadn’t even started studying it at school yet, I just knew. I love everything about photography. I will never get bored with what I do, and never want to stop learning…that’s how I know I’m doing the right medium for me.
To you, what is it that makes an incredible photo?
For me it would be the way the light falls across the frame – the composition is also important, but it’s really the emotions of who is in the frame, no matter what they are, that really makes the image.
Any advice for couples looking to choose their wedding photographer?
Obviously you want to find someone whose work speaks to you. I do think it’s most important to find someone you can connect with though, it should really feel like your photographer is a friend with a camera there on the day. The most beautiful, authentic images come from when you feel you can really be yourself and are unaware of the camera.
You have a talent for beautifully capturing elopements. What do you love about photographing these and how can a couple work closely with their photographer to create magical, unexpected images?
I love these intimate days, collaborating with my clients. Prepping beforehand with your photographer is really important with a few catch-ups so you are comfortable on the day. I find a schedule and doing a location scout beforehand makes the shoot itself nice and relaxed on the day. Everything should feel comfortable and effortless.
As a photographer whose work is grounded in the documentary style, what is it that you think is so powerful about that facet of the artform?
There’s power in being able to tell a visual story through photography – it is the authenticity – the authentic recording of an event. I’ve definitely been inspired by other documentary photographers like Brassai and Annie Leibovitz – there is a whole world of incredible documentary photographers out there. Essentially, it was what made me fall in love with photography in the first place. I have always been drawn into the timelessness of it, no matter what the era, no matter what the subject.
Your aesthetic is effortless, cinematic and infused with a timeless elegance. Creatively, who are the artists that inspire you?
I studied art history and found it helped with my photography immensely, from leading lines by the Renaissance artist to studying the way light falls by the Dutch Golden Age masters. Also, Christopher Nolan; every frame in Dunkirk is perfection. My peers also inspire me – I’m so lucky New Zealand has so many talented wedding photographers that are very open with what they share and are so inspiring. It’s a great community to be a part of. Lastly, I draw a huge amount of inspiration from the fashion industry for my fine art florals, colour palettes, to texture filter through.
“I studied art history and found it helped with my photography immensely, from leading lines by the Renaissance artist to studying the way light falls by the Dutch Golden Age masters.”
A moment behind an image you’ll never forget…
I’ve had some pretty special moments doing travel photography. I love how well you can communicate with anyone – no matter if you speak the same language or not – if you are holding a camera. There was a girl in Ubud that allowed me to document during offerings under a Banyan Tree, it was pretty magic. Neither of us spoke each other’s language but we seemed to communicate so well at the same time.
What’s next for you?
I have a few bridal campaigns in the near future which I’m very excited about. Our wedding season in New Zealand is about to kick off, so looking forward to documenting my lovely clients. Time with my partner and girls – I’m always trying to master the work-life balance. And lots of travel, overseas weddings and elopements.
Find our handpicked edit of Photographers from around the world on the Directory.