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An interview with world-renowned wedding photographer Christian Oth

Christian is an international wedding photographer, who you may remember from the stunning wedding he worked on in Big Sur, California where he captured every moment in the Lord of the Rings inspired nuptials (think: tall redwoods, long draping lights and a field of white flowers). His photography tells an elegant, but an organic story of who you are as a couple, tied in a bow and ready to share with your friends and family for years after the big day.

On an overcast Thursday eve, we sat down with Christian in New York to ask him your questions on the wedding industry and how he became a world-renowned international photographer.

Photo Credit: Christian Oth @christianoth

When did you realize that you had a love for photography, specifically wedding photography?

I realized very early on, when I was about 17-years old, just how much I loved the idea of working as a photographer. As a teenager, I imagined that through photography I’d meet a lot of interesting people and travel the world. Luckily, both of those dreams have become a reality.

I started photographing weddings when I was just starting out in New York City, because I was working for another photographer for a little extra income, and he sent me on some wedding assignments. When I first saw the style in which weddings were shot at the time, I realized that I could apply some of my aesthetics from shooting editorial to the way I photographed these couples on their incredibly special day. Turns out there was quite a demand for an editorial take on wedding photography, and it went on to become one of my specialties.

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You have a few photographers working under you at Christian Oth Studio, which turns 17 this year— congratulations! When was the first moment where you thought that you wanted to expand the team to create a studio larger than just you?

I started my photography studio in 2001 right after 9/11. I created a website, which at the time really gave me a competitive advantage in the market (go figure!). The next year I shot 30 weddings and I ended up turning clients down. It took a little while, but 3 years later I had my first associate photographer, and then more followed.

Who are the people behind Christian Oth Studio?

There was this pool of photographers from Australia early on who were super talented, enthusiastic and ambitious. Most are still with me, and now we have twelve photographers, each who are supported by a dedicated staff of photo editors, designers, retouchers and project managers.

Can you tell us a little bit about your three favorite photos of all time?

Yeah, so this first one was my first photo that I’ve taken in Lake Como at the then newly opened Il Sereno. The hotel contracted me to do a La Dolce Vita shoot.

first photo Christian Oth Studio

This is one of my more known photos taken at the Le Sereno in St Barth. The hotel property asked me to stay on location and shoot the surrounding area and this quickly has become one of my top images.

second photo Christian Oth Studio

This photo was the last shot of the day and a part of a conceptual shoot that I did in Ireland.

third photo Christian Oth Studio

You’ve talked about capturing that perfect, real moment on your wedding day to really get “the photo”. What’s your one piece of advice for a bride and groom to help ease them into getting the photo?

There are many ingredients that go in to achieving that perfect wedding photograph. A lot has to do with hiring the right photographer who interacts with the couple really well, chooses the right locations, and understands their personalities both as individuals, and together as a couple. But, most importantly, be kind to each other, your guests and be in the moment.

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Great advice, I know especially now in our digital age it’s so hard to be in the moment, but location can help. Would you say that there are elements that create a better photo backdrop than others?

There are so many different elements to a great photo backdrop, so that’s a bit hard to say things that work universally – it’s so dependent on location. However, I will say that I am always inspired when I travel the world with my team.

Whenever we do a shoot in Lake Como, I love to see the lake, the V-shape of the mountains and a Venice water taxi in the foreground. There are some iconic moments that can and should be captured that way, to make sure you reflect their unique identity.

You’ve worked on countless projects over the years, what’s the one experience or destination that you still remember to this day?

A couple of years ago we did a fashion shoot for Harper’s Bazaar in Lake Como at a 15th Century Villa. We walked into this shoot with a deep, passionate new found creativity and a mission to create something different and innovative. And well, we really did. The team on the shoot collaborated extremely well.

Favorite destination that you’ve photographed in? And venue?

Lake Como. Villa Balbiano, Lake Como

Which shoot is better for the camera shy couple – engagement or honeymoon?

Definitely an engagement shoot. It preps you for the wedding day.

The no. 1 thing that you’d never leave out of your carry-on?

My Kindle

Where are you off to next?

Yes, this year I’ll be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

Your favorite podcast, movie, playlist, and book?

For podcast: This American Life and Wait, wait, don’t tell me.

Movie: well I have to admit that this is the time that I’ll watch whatever latest action or comedy that I wouldn’t have watched even at home.

Playlist: My Summer 2018 playlist that gets updated/curated every day.

Best read: a great New Yorker article or two.

Dream shoot location?

More Africa please, but let’s start with Morocco.

Interested in a photo shoot by Christian in a dream destination? Together, we just launched the Jetsetters service, where we arrange to have Christian Oth Studio capture an editorial photo shoot while you’re away on a Black Tomato holiday. Read more on our engagement and editorial shoot below.