Holly Medway Intrepid Weddings

Couples who want to get off the beaten track need a photographer who can keep up, even if that means hiking in the dark to catch the first light. Meet Holly Medway, who shoots truly intrepid destination weddings.

When Holly Medway was growing up, she was obsessed with National Geographic magazine. “I loved seeing photos of animals and people in epic landscapes,” says Holly.

“And seeing life as it happened, those fly on the wall-style shots. It’s what inspired me to become a photographer.”

Sydney-born Holly picked up a camera when she was 15, initially to photograph her fellow ballet dancers in outdoor locations around Sydney. “I loved to take them into nature, usually to the beach or the bush, to capture the beautiful scenery and light.”

There was an industrial design degree and detour into graphic design before Holly decided to take the full-time leap into photography. In 2019, she opened Holly Medway Photography which specialises in wedding photography.

But not just any wedding photography. Holly is what’s known as an intrepid or destination wedding photographer, which means that she takes couples into unique, off the beaten track nature locations to photograph them.

While Holly has photographed a wedding in Wanaka, New Zealand, where her parents now live, most of her intrepid work is based in Western Australia, a vast stretch of land that covers around one third of Australia. Holly moved to Albany, 417km south of Perth, in 2020 when her husband took up a teaching job there.

It’s a state that over-delivers when it comes to awe-inspiring scenery, ranging from clifftops to limestone caves and wetlands. “There’s no shortage of beautiful places to shoot, so my aim is to find the perfect off-the-beaten-track location for each couple, depending on what they like, what matters to them, and how adventurous they are. For example, are they really outdoorsy people who like to head into the bush, or do they want to be near a beach or on the top of a hill at sunrise? Once I know what a couple is after, I will start searching out locations.”

A glance at Holly’s website (hollymedway.com) reveals the stunning backdrops that she finds. But there’s a lot of logistics that go into the final result. “There are a number of challenges involved with having a wedding in a remote place, from finding power and a phone signal to how do we get to the location – can we walk there, how far away is the carpark or do we need to helicopter in?”

Other considerations include whether couples want to get married on the day or earlier, travel expenses, a back-up weather plan and witnesses. “In Australia, you need two marriage witnesses so I’m happy to be one of them, but if it’s just me and the couple, they need to arrange for another witness.”

Avoiding peak seasons/school holidays and popular times of the day are also considerations that need to be factored into where and when a shoot can take place.

‘There’s no shortage of beautiful places to shoot so my aim is to find the perfect off the beaten track location for each couple, depending on what they like, what matters to them and how adventurous they are.’

Non-Australians unused to native wildlife such as snakes and spiders might worry about the safety issue of posing in long grass in remote locations. Holly laughs when I bring that up.

“Snakes are usually more scared of us than we are of them! I’ve never had an issue yet but I do carry a first aid kit and a snake bite kit just in case!” The logistical challenges are worth it when Holly isable to capture the perfect shot, such as the couple who wanted to be photographed at sunrise in a gorge in Karijini National Park.

“It was a 10 minute walk from the carpark so we rugged up with puffer blankets, put on head torches, set up a picnic and waited for the sun to rise. The light at that time of the morning was amazing — it produced some of the most magical photos I’ve ever taken.”

Another memorable shoot was of a couple who had planned a sunrise wedding at the top of one of Western Australia’s tallest mountains.

“We got up at 1.30am and hiked two hours in the dark up the mountain. But when we got to the top, it was shrouded in mist and cloud. The couple still got married, but later that afternoon we found another spot to take photos.”

With a global trend towards smaller weddings, Holly predicts intrepid weddings will continue to increase in popularity.

“My clients are a range of ages but many of them are quite adventurous. Often they’re not the first to get married in their family so there’s less pressure to have a conventional wedding. There are also those who don’t like all the attention being on them, who prefer something quieter and more intimate, where the scenery commands as much attention as they do.”

For more, visit Holly Medway’s website or Instagram.