Hollie Mateer – wedding photographer

February 3, 2024

Hi, I’m Hollie – one half of The Mateers. I work alongside my husband, Patrick. We’re documentary photographers and we love capturing weddings together, in our unique style. This blog is all about me! How I got into photography, what I love about being a photographer, what I love about weddings. Plus, a little bit about me away from photography, too. First of all though a run down some of my likes – those little idiosyncrasies that make me, ‘me’.

  • I love sleep – and since having children, I really miss it
  • My favourite films are The Lost Boys, Dirty Dancing, Little Shop Of Horrors, La La Land, Man Up and Stand By Me
  • My hobby is photography – getting to do it as a job makes me feel so lucky
  • If I’m heading to a restaurant it’s going to Indian / South Asian, Tapas or Italian
  • Toffifee, toblerone and other chocolate beginning with the letter T – get in my face
  • I LOVE Lego – as does Patrick! I currently have a Friends ‘Central Perk’ set that I can’t wait to build (but y’know, editing comes first)
  • I drink far too much coffee and tea
  • My favourite biscuit is a choco leibniz
  • I get extremely hungry on a wedding day and love to eat the canapés when offered (I love photographing people eating them too!)
  • My music taste is varied – but I love to edit to Billie Elish or Fleetwood Mac
  • I really don’t drink very much alcohol these days (three children makes a hangover unappealing), though when I do, I like champagne, rum and gin (but not generally in the same glass)
  • Spending time with my family is my greatest love
  • Me and Patrick rarely get a date night – a supplier meal together at a wedding is usually the closet we get!

A late start in photography

I was born in 1992 and since I was a teenager, I have had a keen interest in photography. I was given a film camera, but never learned to use. Photography was always that thing that I would learn ‘tomorrow’. After finishing school I went onto start a fashion course – my talents always lay in art and creativity. However, between one thing and another, I didn’t complete the fashion course. Later, I began work as a florist in the East Yorkshire town of Beverley. I at last picked up a camera properly in 2016. By this time I was in a relationship with Patrick (now my husband) who was a successful wedding photographer. He lent me a camera to play around with. Patrick showed me how the settings on the camera worked, he showed me how to shoot manually. I began to take the camera everywhere with me and I soon discovered I had a real passion for photography – a real talent for it, too.

My beginnings in wedding photography

In 2017, as my passion for photography grew, I left my job at the florist to work as a photographer. I began accompanying Patrick to weddings, at first as an assistant. We told couples I was an assistant, but really, I was there to learn and develop as a photographer. I didn’t have any responsibilities, instead I had the complete freedom to shoot how I wanted – to find my own style. This freedom was so important to me – that complete freedom to be creative is something I still carry with me today. After assisting at around 20 or 30 weddings over 2017, I shot my first ‘official’ wedding as a full-time photographer – alongside Patrick – in September 2017.

Developing a documentary approach to photography

The documentary approach Patrick and I use today – no posing, letting a wedding flow and unfold naturally – is something we’ve developed together. Early on, we learned the less posing and staging we did, the better the moments there were for us to capture. People relaxed around us and funny, poignant and romantic things happened without us needing to intervene or direct proceedings at all. By 2019, after a few years working together, Patrick and I had stopped posing or staging anything on a wedding day, save for a few group shots (but only if a couple wants any). The images we were capturing were beginning to stand out – and they were beginning to reflect our own personalities. Shouting, ordering people around, being the centre of attention at a wedding – it’s just not us. Also, by not posing things – and by developing an approach that meant wedding guests quickly got used us as just part of the day – we were able to fully focus on our compositions, our positioning, the light, we were reading people and following the narrative of the day. We were thinking only about being photographers and about how we could create the best images. This is still how we work together today – and we love it. You can see a picture of us below.

What documentary photography means to me

I love my job, photographing weddings using my own approach, capturing moments in an authentic way. Each individual wedding is carried along by its own kinetic energy – always moving, driven by the people. I’m a bystander – I’m not directing proceedings. Yet at the same time, I’m immersed in the moment. I’m a small and quiet presence at weddings. But my images are loud.

A distinctive and artistic style

A documentary approach is one thing – but to really stand out, you need your own style. For a photographer, your style is found in the images you make and how you make them – the composition, the editing, how close or far you stand, the perspective. You can imbue your own personality into the image through your stylistic choice. Also, crucially, your style is about the choice of moment you capture – one photographer might favour showing just beautiful, pretty moments. Well, I love to capture these moments when they happen, but I also love to photograph those unexpected moments, moments that aren’t the stereotypical ‘wedding moment’. Look through my portfolio you’ll see that archetypal wedding beauty, but you’ll also see people eating (I really do get excited when the canapes get brought out). You’ll see quiet moments, not just the big moments. Wedding days are long, they’re wonderful but it’s not all high volume. Look at my work and you’ll see small details captured – not staged details, but lived in, real details of the day – details that can tell so much about the wedding, even though they’re concentrated not on a person or people, but a detail. Every moment is new and real – so my images never repeat what I’ve captured before. But what ties them together is my style – dynamic compositions, bold colours. Each image telling a story not just through the moment – but the way I’ve captured that moment, too.

My wedding photography awards

I’ve been lucky enough to win many awards. Together with Patrick, we won the PKIR Photographer Of The Year award in 2021. Then in 2022, together with Patrick, we won the TWIA National Wedding Photographer Of The Year award. In the UK wedding industry, awards don’t get any bigger than the TWIA award – winning it with Patrick felt (and still does feel) incredible. Then, later that year, I was named a Rising Star Of Wedding Photography by New York’s Rangefinder Magazine. Being named a Rangefinder Rising Star is considered incredibly prestigious internationally. It’s an accolade many of the top wedding photographers from the around the world covet the most.

This Is Reportage photographer of the year

I didn’t think things could get any better than those two awards – but then, in 2023, I was named the This Is Reportage Photographer Of The Year (becoming only the second ever UK photographer to be named the TIR POTY). Without a doubt, this is the award that gives me the most pride. This Is Reportage celebrates the best in documentary photography – the approach to photography that I specialise in, the ethos that underpins every image I take. There is no bigger documentary wedding photography award – and there is no harder one to win. So, to win the overall Photographer Of The Year award – well, I still have to pinch myself and ask ‘is this real?’. What’s more, I’m the only UK photographer to have won all three of the TWIA POTY, Rangefinder Rising Star and TIR POTY awards. I used to dream of being known as a decent photographer in Hull (where I live with Patrick and our family). These awards, they were beyond my dreams.

Bold and colourful editing

I shoot weddings alongside Patrick – and sometimes, on occasion, we shoot separately – but I handle all of the editing. Having one person take the lead on the editing helps us maintain consistency to our artistic style. The final look to our images is bold and colourful – an artistic rendering of the world, but one bound to reality too; artistically naturalistic. Our work is very real in terms of time and place. However, we also look to show the vibrancy of a wedding day – the moments we capture are often full of life, full of energy – and our editing only accentuates this. Through my photography – the images I take, the way I edit them – I seek to evoke how a moment felt, not just how it looked.

A beautiful family of five

I live with Patrick, in Yorkshire, with our three beautiful children. From our Yorkshire base, we photograph weddings all over the UK – and sometimes abroad, too. Then, we have an amazing family to come home to. We work away a lot, we work long hours as wedding photographers – though the work is of course extremely creative and rewarding. But when we’re not shooting weddings, we’re working from home, editing – or spending time with our amazing boys. Life with three young boys is as beautifully chaotic as you’d imagine! I love being a mum – I feel photography is one life’s great gift to me, but my boys are the greatest gift of all.

Wedding photography has given so much to me

I feel very lucky to be doing this job. Not just alone – but alongside Patrick. We travel, we meet new people, we get to be creative everyday – above all, we get to have fun, together. We love photography and documenting weddings allows us to shoot in a way that suits us as people and as artists. No working to a brief or sticking to a shot list, no posing, no bossing people around. No repeating shots we’ve taken before and we never, ever copy another photographer’s work. We capture new images every day – because we’re not posing or staging anything, every moment (and therefore every image) is new, it’s original, it’s unique to us and the people we’re photographing. Crucially, this is the way that we’d want to be photographed ourselves, so our approach is completely authentic to us. And photographing in a way that is authentic has helped build my confidence so much. At first, back in 2017, photographing large weddings felt intimidating. But finding my own approach and style, winning some of the biggest wedding photography awards in the industry, joining some amazing photography communities and meeting so many other talented photographers who I now call friends – all this has led to be developing my confidence. Now, I’m photographing huge weddings every weekend. I may still be quiet at times on a wedding, but that’s because I’m immersed in capturing the best moments. I go unnoticed as I move around and amongst the guests (at 5 foot 3, I’m fairly unassuming – Patrick sometimes loses me on a busy dance floor!). So, you’ll find me getting close to my subjects to get the best shots, assimilating myself into the celebration, being a part of each and every wedding day – creating work that I love and my couples love, too. This gives me a real purpose creatively, artistically – it gives real meaning to my work. Wedding photography has given so much to me.

Award winning family photography

As well as wedding photography, I specialise in family photography, too – I have a separate business called The Wild Child Photographer. I photograph families like I photograph weddings – no posing or staging, just real moments. I developed my love for family photography through documenting my own children and family. Those cliches about children growing up so fast are all so, so true. So I photograph my family whenever I can, capturing our every day, ordinary life. I treasure every single one of these images – and I know as time passes, these images will only grow in importance to me, my family, my children. Knowing the intrinsic value of family photography has led to me developing an empathic and personal approach to the way I photograph families. In 2023 I was named the Top UK Family Photographer by TIR Family and in the Top 10 Family Photographers in the World by both TIR Family and the FPJA.

Looking towards the future

Every year I look forward – to experiences I’ll have with my family, watching my children grow. And I look forward to all the art I’m going to create. All those weddings I’ll document, all those moments I’ll record. Moments that will be looked back on for years to come. The art that I create becomes a meaningful art, for couples, their friends – their families. As someone who’s been married and as a mother myself, I know how important it is to record those fleeting moments – how important it is to have them to look back on as the years go by.

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