Bath Profile: Joe Short, a Bath-based photographer

Bath-based photographer Joe Short has agreed to take pictures for our new series of Bath portraits. So this Q&A is by way of a formal introduction. Check out his first Portrait of Bath on page 20, and look out for some of the local faces that will appear over the coming months…

How long have you lived in Bath and what are your favourite things about the city?
I’ve been in Bath on and off for over 20 years. I love the golden shimmer of the stone in the summer and from where I am in Widcombe, you can move from city to countryside in an instant. But it’s the friends I’ve made here and the variety of incredible people I’m always meeting that I love the most.

Why was photography your choice of career, and why wedding photography in particular?
I mostly shot landscapes when I first started photography. It was only when a friend at school asked me to photograph their sister’s wedding that I had ever considered it. I love the human interactions on a day that carries so many emotions. Yes weddings do generally follow a similar plan, but they are always different because the people are. I still get teary in the speeches!

How has photography changed in the time that you have been working as a photographer?
I shot my first wedding on a medium format fit camera. Obviously that only really allowed me to take formal photographs and the best thing about digital is that you can cover so much more on every shoot. There wasn’t really the ability to be a documentary wedding photographer until digital came along. I do miss the buzz of seeing a print develop in the darkroom, but you still get that ‘ta-da’ moment when you finish editing an image on the computer.

Joe’s photograph of his daughter Juno on the beach at West Wittering

You have travelled widely with your work as a photographer. Can you describe one of your most memorable experiences on these trips?
I’ve been extremely lucky to have had such varied and far flung adventures. I’ve photographed weddings and parties in some extraordinary places, but I’ll never forget being alone in the centre of The Forbidden City in Beijing just as the sun was beginning to set. It was a few minutes before guests arrived for an incredible party I was shooting for a client and in the stillness I knew it was a once in a lifetime moment in a place that was so historic.

You did a selection of private photographs for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s wedding day in 2018. What was that experience like?
It was the hugest privilege and incredibly exciting to be a part of that amazing day. We had rehearsed with the BBC for 2 days, so every move (particularly in the chapel) was choreographed. That’s certainly not something that happens on my other weddings! The couple and everyone involved were extremely down to earth, kind and fun.

Do you use a range of cameras and specialist equipment? What is your favourite camera to use and why?

Ever since Harry and Meghan’s wedding I have used Sony Alpha cameras. This was due to the fact that I had to have a silent shutter in the chapel so as not to interrupt any of the television coverage. I love the mirrorless system where you ‘get what you see’ in the viewfinder. It gives you total control, particularly in tricky lighting situations and it allows you to check crucial details on key shots.

What is one of your most favourite photographs you’ve ever taken?
That’s tough! I wish I could find the first photograph that I ever took. It was of my bicycle leaning against the front door at home when I was about 10. My mother insisted it wouldn’t come out as I took it in low evening light. But when I got the prints back – there it was. I was thrilled! Maybe that’s when I got hooked? But my favourite would probably be a photo of my daughter Juno on the beach at West Wittering which we have framed on our wall at home. It’s full of strength and possibility and really makes me smile.

Is there one person in the world that you would really like to photograph?
I’d like to photograph Siouxsie Sioux with her cat. I’ve been playing bass with her for 15 years (in my other life) and I have always thought of making a portrait away from the stage, simple and intimate.