Under the Spotlight – Dylan McBurney

February 17, 2010


Today’s Under the Spotlight victim is Northern Irish photographer Dylan McBurney. I’ve fallen in love with not only Dylan’s beautifully naturalist approach to photography, but his passion for his work, his family and his clients. From speaking to him today, I’m totally convinced he’d be a great photographer to work with! So all your Irish brides who think there’s not enough Rock n Roll on the emerald isle…I beg to differ!


Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Dylan McBurney and I’m a photographer.

Where are you based and what cities/countries are you available to work in?

I live in Carrickfergus just outside Belfast, Northern Ireland with my wife Caroline and daughter Corrina and I photograph weddings across Ireland, France and elsewhere in Europe.

You’re the first person I’ve interviewed from Northern Ireland? What is the wedding industry like over there?

Northern Ireland is a pretty cool place to get married. The people are renowned for their friendliness. That’s what I love most about working here.


Do you get to work with a lot of great clients?

Fortunately the type of clients we attract are very much into photography and they can understand why my pictures look different to other people’s pictures. A lot of our clients have a relationship with the visual and creative arts – we seem to cover a lot of architects and musician’s weddings.

How would you describe your photography?

Unobtrusive, journalistic and moment-oriented. I shoot with my emotions – I like to capture the feeling between people and that’s generally not something you can pose or stage.

Who/what are your biggest influences? Whose work do you really admire?

Henri Cartier-Bresson for his sense of composition and timing. Garry Winogrand for his ability to make pictures out of the chaos of the street. And Joel Meyerowitz, again for his street pictures, but also for his fine art colour work of which I’m a big fan.


Do you have an ethos to which you stand by in regards to your photography?

I like photographs that tell stories. To do that, you have to be in the background, quietly observing and then reacting to what’s happening in front of you.

What about formal group photographs?

My formals are quick to do and my clients appreciate that. I usually cover about six to seven groups if required – often in a session lasting less than fifteen minutes. Most of my coverage is documentary. At a wedding I’m a reactive soul and I see my role as one of documenting what’s going on rather than trying to direct things.

How many weddings do you average per year?

I shoot about 40 weddings each year.


What or who made you get into photography?

Seeing Lance Mercer’s black and white documentary pictures of the band Pearl Jam in the 1990’s inspired me to pick up a camera. Great pictures of a great band!

Did you go to school to study photography?

Only a part time City and Guilds course at my local college. My tutor was great though – he was a big fan of Cartier-Bresson, Don McCullin and others. I’ve found that that grounding in social documentary photography has served me well. I learned a lot about photographic theory and black and white darkroom work.

Apart from photography, what drives you? What are you passionate about? Are you able to bring this into your wedding photography?

I’m completely in love with Caroline. We married in her hometown in Brittany, France in September, 2003. Every week when I photograph my client’s weddings I’m reminded of our own wedding that day – all of the friends and family gathered together, all of the emotions, joy and happiness. And I think of all the precious moments that came and went in the blink of an eye.


Who or what are your perfect clients?

My clients all seem to be really good at living in the moment. Fortunately that’s what’s important to them and to me also.

What do you love about weddings?

No two weddings are the same because the dynamics of the relationships are always unique and I just love that.

What do you think makes a great Rock n Roll wedding?

Didn’t John Lennon say the essence of rock and roll was to ‘be here now’? I’ve always thought that that was a great declaration for having a great wedding!


What would you say your greatest achievement has been to date?

Hands down – meeting Caroline and getting her to marry me.

Any real Rock and Roll moments that you can share with us?

Going to check out of our hotel room in Rotterdam last year Caroline and I actually bumped into all of the members of Pearl Jam in the corridor (who unknown to us, were also checking out of the very same hotel at the very same time!). We got to chat about their tour, their new album and managed to successfully invite them back to Belfast to play a show later this year – something I’m really looking forward to!

How important is an awesome website to your business?

It’s the single most important part of any photography business. In my opinion it’s your shop window. I’m amazed at how many photographers have such poor sites.


How important is Photoshop to your final images?

It’s absolutely essential. Every single image out of the camera goes through Photoshop at some stage, although I don’t do anything that I couldn’t do in the darkroom.

How do you present your images to your clients?

Clients receive a finished album with all of their pictures about six weeks after the wedding. We don’t do proofs. Basically, we’re providing our clients with a finished product, very much like a videographer would do. We’re telling the story of that day and our approach is very similar.


What advice would you have for couples on the wedding photographer hunt? What is a sign of a good/bad wedding photographer?

Photographers are usually hired for their ability to see things and you can assess that pretty easily these days thanks to the internet. Remember that you can’t retake your wedding photographs – it’s a once in a lifetime event – so you should hire a professional who is consistently shooting great photographs week in week out.

What has been the highlight of your career as a wedding photographer so far?

Getting to see our clients thumb through their books and witnessing the memories of their day coming back to their faces. That’s the best feeling in the world.


Do you have any advice for budding photographers out there who want to get into weddings?

It’s not easy. Unfortunately with digital, there are now a lot of people shooting wedding photographs who think you can just turn up with a digital camera and take pictures of people having a good time. If you want to bring it to a level where it becomes a valuable form of art then it requires a higher level of skill and understanding of light, composition and technique. With shooting weddings you have to be so many photographers rolled into one. A photojournalist might have two weeks to get just 10 pictures. We’ve got five to six hours to get 150 pictures that all have to be good. That’s a very demanding profession.

If you could photograph anybody’s wedding whose would it be and why?

I’d go back in time and photograph my Grandparents wedding – I bet they knew how to throw a really good party and I’d love to look back and see what happened!


What can we expect from you in 2010?

I’m looking forward to documenting more amazing weddings and watching my daughter Corrina growing up!


Thanks to much to Dylan for talking to me today. I’ve loved learning all about you! For more info on Dylan and to see more examples of his work, check out his website. You can contact him by phone 07783  277643 on or by email to dylan@dylanmcburney.com

If you are a photographer or wedding vendor and are interested in being featured in a future ‘Under the Spotlight’ post then drop me an email for all the info.



  1. Andrea Hill

    On the questions section, can you add not to presume anything and to remind the designer of important things too please? I presumed that my dress was empire line from the pictures I’d seen, but I was wrong. This was a massive deal as I’d also told her there was a big possibility I could be pregnant and showing at the time of the wedding (we knew when we were planning to start trying) and if she could accommodate for that. I didn’t check or remind her and the dress wouldn’t go near me by the wedding. I ended up with a £20 stretchy dress from a high street sale, and I’ve got a £1800 black wedding dress in my wardrobe that I may never ever wear!

  2. I ordered my wedding dress from China off ebay and unfortunately it just didn’t come. I chose a seller with over 300 positive reviews and was devastated when it didn’t arrive.

    Two months before the wedding I ended up having to buy something from the High Street, my stress levels were sky high and I was so upset that my dream dress became a nightmare.

    I would recommend giving yourself enough time that if it doesn’t arrive, you still have time to buy something else.


  3. I purchased my 50s-style dress online from Honeypie Boutique – the company is based and managed in the UK but the dresses are made in China (I think…somewhere abroad anyway!). This was perfect for me as I didn’t have to worry about communicating directly with a designer in China; someone in the UK who already has an established relationship with the Chinese staff did all that for me. Customer service and fabric swatches were all dealt with from the UK too. My dress cost less than £160 including delivery (which took about 8 weeks) and I couldn’t have been happier with it! It was so well made, and suited and fitted me perfectly – I actually preferred it to a similar dress I tried on at a wedding fair that cost over £1500! One tip I would add when buying a dress online is to go for a lace-up back rather than a zip – if you do happen to get your measurements slightly wrong, or put on/lose weight then a zip closure will need to be professionally adjusted, whereas with a lace up back you can simply tighten or slacken the back!

  4. Excellent advice Kat! My favourite is when you say “If you wear a certain style a lot, it’s probably because you feel good in it! This should be the basis for your wedding dress too” I see so many brides choosing styles that are ‘in’ right now or that their Mum thinks ‘will suit their body type’, but really on their wedding day every bride should look like themselves, only at their most beautiful!

  5. claire palmer

    I bought my dress from ebay. It is a genuine Ian Stuart, never worn, ex sample bought from a store that was changing suppliers.
    It is immaculate, and cost £750 instead of £2750…there is NO WAY I could have afforded the full price, but this way i have my dream dress.
    I would say if you know what you want, look for a sample!!

  6. Victoria

    I bought my dress from Honeypie Boutique and can definitely recommend. Dress was excellent quality and delivered within the time frame promised with good communication.
    I did do as much research as possible by looking for reviews on forums and websites similar to this.

  7. CharliRed

    This is such a reassuring blog post and perfectly timed – I literally, days ago, pressed ‘purchase’ on my custom-made wedding dress from an Etsy store. It was something that I had agonised about for a long time and I am pleased that I plucked up the courage to go for it, but I am still at the very start of the journey so fingers crossed! I had my measurements taken professionally and I have definitely budgeted for alterations. I hope that I have left plenty of time (wedding is in April). I tried on similar dresses in bridal stores so that I felt confident that the style suited me, but I loved the fact that I could add extra features to really make it mine (yes, covered buttons going all the way down the train, I’m talking about you :)…)
    The store that I decided on has excellent reviews and I have been thrilled with the level (and speed) of our correspondence back and forth so far. She also has a gallery of photos of her real brides, as well as the pictures on the mannequins.
    I really love how your two dresses turned out and you look stunning – here’s hoping that I have a similarly successful experience!!

  8. Aluka

    I think the first thing I did after I got engaged was to search for a dress. I knew two things: 1) I didn’t want the typical wedding dress (we call them “cake dresses” in my country, big and puffy), and 2) my budget was very, very small. I obsessed for many months looking for the PERFFECT dress online, mainly in the US because that´s closer to my country, Costa Rica, than the UK or China. I could have rented the dress, but it would have been traditional dress anyhow.
    I finally found one in Nordstrom, an Isaac Mizrahi, tea-length dress in ivory. A little over my budget. Anyway, I looked for it in eBay and found it, new with tags at a way-lower price. The first time I attempted to purchase it, I saw pictures taken by the seller, which of course look more realistic than the ones at a catalog in an online store. I was dissapointed with the shine factor of the fabric and didn’t purchase it. I spent another week obsessing with the dress and looking for another one, but I couldn´t get it out of my head. So I bought it, well, I bid on it and got it… for $40!!!! (real retail price was $170). Luckily I sized down and it fits me perfectly, although I was nervous about that factor. The fabric is amazing, actually, and it looks very high-end. Buying a dress online without a proper fit can be risky, but you can find a little gem!!

  9. Kirra

    One other thing I’d say to include is to beware of customs duty payable on delivery if buying online from places like the USA. I bought my dress from BHLDN in their sale and was hoping it would be the one but knew I could return it if not as it was off the rack rather than custom made. The dress cost just over £700 and when it arrived we had to pay £277 in customs duty!!!! With our wedding only having a £5K budget that was a huge shock and meant that if I had to return it we would have lost quite a bit of moolah. Luckily it was good enough that I kept it, but in all honesty if there hadn’t been the customs duty I probably would have returned it and kept looking for my dream dress. We decided to just go with it and it all worked out ok but this isn’t something that gets mentioned and can really catch brides out… I wish someone had told me!

  10. angelina

    I bought my dress from an online company inspirationbridal.co.uk they are based in manchester. Im really happy with it they did a fantastic job and made it the way i wanted. Al for under 400euro. Fits perfectly 🙂

  11. See, I’m worried about my dress. I bought it in a sample sale at a lovely bridal shop reduced from £1,100 to £350. It’s a bit big and will need alterations that I’ve no idea will even be possible! After doing a bit of research online I’ve found it on a few foreign sites reduced from 600 to 200 (all made to measure) and feel gutted! I’ve managed to convince myself my dress looks
    Cheap now – and I’m sure I wouldn’t have thought that before but I’ve ruined myself! It seems some bridal stores use the foreign suppliers… Hmm!

    …. Tell me if it looks cheap? Panicker! 😉

  12. Poppy Rock-it

    I saw my dress on the sale rail of a bridal shop, the rails of white puffy things freaked me out and I tried on a sale one for a laugh, in a style I would never have thought I would like, but it is SO all about how it makes you feel, I feel like da bomb in it, and when we get around to the wedding I can’t wait to show it to everyone!

  13. Angela ruthven

    I’ve just received my custom made dress from China and for the price it’s amazing. Nothing I could have ever afforded from a bridal shop.

    Kat, where is your belt from? I want!

  14. Dear Kate, Thanks for your recommendation, Adorona will pay more attentions to your suggestions, and improve fabric quality as nice as a bridal boutique. It’s Adorona’s goal to design beautiful dress with affordable price.

    Davie from Adorona

  15. Hi, guys I am Isaac from South Africa, I want to order a wedding dress online, but I’m really not sure or affraid to do so as it will be my first time to buy online,how genuine is this online shopping from other country?. I want ot buy her the from Ebay company. Please guys I need help.

  16. Anne

    Maybe most of us have heard tons of negative complaints about Chinese wedding dress, however to picking out the reputable manufacturer online is really hard. Beware when you can’t find the really address and original dress at their website, not wanna receive the terrible gown, you should be more patient. At last, recommend Jueshe UK (I had bought one evening dress, although their pics are really ugly LOL)

  17. Penny

    Thank you so much for this! I’m going dress shopping on Friday just to try styles on and then to look online for my dream dress. My Mum has been worried about buying online because of the material, but thanks to this I know what to look out for and to ask for samples.
    & Thanks to the people who have recommended sites. I much prefer recommendations than going on a whim!

  18. Rosanne

    Has anyone got ant experience in buying dresses from kitty and dulcie? I’ve fallen in love with their dresses but don’t want to end up with something that looks and feels cheap

  19. Joey

    My husband just ordered from adorona and I’m really hoping that it comes out the way we’re hoping for.

  20. Jaimee

    I ordered my gown from an Australian online bridal shop called LillyBridal.

    They were SO SO helpful and their prices were great, i paid about £500 and the gown arrived last week. I was so pleasantly surprised at how well made and the quality of the fabrics were. My gown looks stunning and they even allowed me to customise the back of my gown to include an illusion high lace back for no additional costs!!

  21. This is the most most neutral most sensible advice for bride-to-be about wedding dresses online i have ever read.Before i bought my dress from China,i have heard so much terrible stories of china cheap bad dresses online.I have summarized they all paid no than 300 dollars for a designer replica dress.My college friend Jessica has bought a ball dress from Only love wedding dresses(Only Love Bridal Boutique)in 2013 about 460 dollars.The result is that her dress help her got so much praise,boutique one.So when i shopping for my wedding gown ,she recommended that shop to me.And before ordering i have taken one week to contact with the seller,because they have changed the website address.I will write my story and the dress after honeymoon.
    One sentence to say,be careful when you shopping online,do not expect expensive at cheap price,that’s a joke!

  22. Maggie

    I love your look, great choices! My mom saw a beautiful gown on lightinabox for $800 which she mentioned to me but I didn’t give it much thought(skeptical). She ended up purchasing the dress after the price was slashed to around $350, still turning a side eye because it was coming from China, I decided to look into the company’s reviews & ratings(😳)….Well the dress showed up and my mom, who is very picky, said it was beautiful! I finally saw the dress and was completely and pleasantly surprised 😀Beautiful & the material was nice & thick….Well I will see the end of the matter when the dress goes on😀Thanks for the great tips!

  23. Kristen Beebe

    Hi thanks for posting. You look great!

    I was thinking of getting my wedding dress at adorona and I was wondering if you know anything about their return policy? It says on their website they accept returns if you are not 100% satisfied but I’m wary to trust it since I’ve heard horror stories about many other similar sites where they refused to accept a return.


  24. Great article. Nowadays, everyone prefer to buy wedding dresses online because online store offers a huge variety and style. Thanks for sharing such great post with us.

  25. Jeanette

    Hi! Great tips! I have searched on Aliexpress for 2 years and the review pictures is always crap. But 1 store has great dresses! When you order a princess ball gown weddingdress you actually GET a ballgown puffy dress and not A-line , and you do GET the 10 layers with tulle and satin, not 2-3.
    Their dresses are GORGEOUS! Their price are double the usual ebay/aliexpress price, but you get a dress you CAN wear and not some crappy dress.

    I use aliexpress app, so don’t have the link but the store is Amanda Novias Wedding Dress. (On aliexpress)

    Sincerly ,

  26. Hi KAT!

    WOW, what is that purle dress, please? 😀 Where did you buy it? I came here for tricks and tips when it comes to buying a bridal dress online (got it, thanks :)), but it looks so great, now I need to see it 🙂 thanks, L

  27. Louise

    I have seen several beautiful dresses on Light in the Box,at very reasonable prices but am skeptical about ordering. Would love to hear from anyone who has ordered from them and to hear their experience. I am on a very tight budget but want to find a unique dress… not Gown at a reasonable price. HELP and thanks.

  28. Tina

    Just ordered my dress online and sent in my measurements and even asked them to do a custom neckline, fingers crossed haha. Also I want to add, find a website that has reviews with pictures of real customers wearing their dress so you can see how it will look on someone more than a size zero model 😉


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