Artist Styles Spotlight: “Clean Film” - Q&A with Jonathan Suckling

By Kyle Wilson

We collaborated with renowned photographers worldwide to create Artist Styles, a feature of Narrative Select + Edit that allows you to edit your images with professional signature styles in one click. In the Artists Styles Spotlight series, we catch up with each photographer to get the details on their exclusive Style and how it can benefit you. 

New Zealand-based wedding photographer Jonathan Suckling uses his infectious energy and humor to make every wedding an unforgettable experience. With banter, dive-rolling antics, and epic dance moves, Jonathan captures genuine, candid moments in his own unique way (and accidentally became TikTok famous for it). According to him, “wedding photography should be a rad time, not a bad time.”

He created his distinct Style, “Clean Film,” to solve a common problem for photographers: one editing style that works in varied lighting conditions and stands the test of time.

Explain your style and what kind of work it should be used for.

My editing Style is clean, vibrant, and timeless because I want people to be able to look back at their images from 10 years ago and feel like these photos still look great today. They don't look like they've been taken through a 2012 Instagram filter. 

In terms of what kind of work the style should be used for, I photograph weddings, which means this is the perfect Style to use on images in any situation. Weddings can have the craziest lighting, from harsh light to soft, dark, indoor light. I've made the style work across a variety of different conditions and days, so I think it will be amazing for you to use across images from any conditions.

What feeling are you trying to evoke with your style?

I want my viewer to see joy and feel the energy that's present in the image. So I've got a lot of color going on. I like to keep it quite natural but also a bit punchy and clean. I want people to come back to those images and see themselves, see the moment that was captured and feel the energy and the joy that was in that moment for them. 

How are you currently using AI in your workflow, and what benefits have you seen?

I'm using Narrative Select, which is an absolute game-changer. I couldn't go back to scrolling around to find faces or going through group shots and not being able to see all the faces at once. I absolutely love it. It's made my life so much easier. 

Editing AI has also been a total game-changer. It's taken a huge mental weight off because it's done a lot of the heavy lifting for me, a lot of the leg work. I'm excited to get into editing the gallery, knowing that I'm not going to have to drag an exposure slider right across because I messed up my exposure at certain times. It's a nice feeling to go into a catalog that feels like it's already almost there. I can just breeze through and make my final little tweaks. It makes my life easier and takes a whole lot of stress and heavy lifting out of my editing workflow.

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What were the reasons you began using or working with Narrative? And what drives your decision moving forward as you've come on board as an Artist Style? 

Coming on board and using Narrative products was a no-brainer. Narrative has taken age-old problems for photographers and thought about ways that they can make that better. It's an exciting company to be part of and to use their products because I know that if something can be done better, Narrative is going to find a way to do that.

Another reason why I came on board with the Artist Style program is because I've spent a lot of time trying to get a preset that works well across all conditions and looks clean and timeless. I've purchased many presets in the past, and I've never felt like they worked in the conditions I'm photographing, which are often less than ideal - that's the reality of weddings. So this is a style that I've worked on for many years to create something that is versatile, but also works really well across different conditions. 

The fact that Narrative is getting into the AI editing game is super exciting because I just can't wait to have a seamless handoff between my selecting software and my editing software. I'm so excited for how those will integrate and for my workflow to be super smooth and exciting.

How is AI in your workflow unleashing your creative potential? Now that this is giving you time back, where are you planning on focusing your business going forward?

AI editing has cut my editing time in half. I've chosen to reinvest the extra time I've captured into polishing my images. I feel like the galleries I'm delivering are the best galleries I've ever delivered. I'm really excited about the level of craft that I've been able to polish my images to. That has actually started to change the kind of clients I'm able to get and also elevated my perceived value in terms of what people think I'm worth and what people are willing to pay me.

What’s unique about your Artist Style?

New Zealand, where I live, has a massive hole in our ozone layer, which gives us the gift of the harshest light available on Earth. As a wedding photographer photographing in these conditions, I needed to find a preset that was going to work in these extremes of harsh, unpleasant, difficult-to-shoot light. So, this is a style I spent a long time creating and evolving in a way that works across all kinds of lighting conditions. 

I want this style to look clean, for the images to look timeless and for the photography to sing through, but also in a way that if things are less than ideal, in terms of the lighting or the colors, it's still going to look great. I'm proud of creating a style that's timeless, has energy and color and is flattering, but also something that will look consistent from photo to photo, even if the conditions are very different. 

Get Narrative Select + Edit to try Jonathan Suckling’s Artist Style, “Clean Film” - add a beautiful touch to your images or use it as the perfect starting point to find your unique look.

Try Narrative Select + Edit with 1,000 free credits today.