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‘F*ck Traditions’ with Barefoot & Bearded

Barefoot, bearded, adventurous and wildly talented- Joel Alston aka “Barefoot & Bearded” is a destination and elopement photographer with a penchant for the unusual and unconventional.
Craving adventure and authenticity in image making for like-minded couples, this intrepid creative travels worldwide to incredible landscapes to capture wild and intimate images that flip the classic idea of wedding photography on it’s head. Backdrops of rugged mountain peaks, sheer cliff faces, icy valleys and towering forests- the landscapes Joel is attracted to all emit a sense of dauntless beauty. But it’s the couples unique connections he captures, the moments of raw love and emotion that come to the forefront of these amazing images and send the landscapes to the background- no mean feat!

Our Wild Hearts Director Samantha had the chance to meet Joel at his photography workshop in Queenstown earlier this year, and after witnessing his extreme passion for what he creates we just had to invite him to speak at Wild Hearts. We can’t wait to have him on-stage at our Auckland Event this coming Saturday (June 16th) at Shed 10- catch him on the main stage at 2pm. If you haven’t got your tickets yet head here

For a little preview, we thought we’d share an interview we featured in our 2018 Edition of Wild Hearts Magazine about Joel and his topic “Fuck traditions, do it your way”… (eg. how stupid traditions are and what to do instead….)



Top: James Simmons | Workshop Images: Joshua Mikhaiel | Below: By ‘Barefoot & Bearded Wife’! | Bottom: Film & Foliage | Images below are by Barefoot & Bearded


Firstly we want to get to know you.  Do a quick round up of what you do, your style, your wedding day vibe and what your passionate about? 

To be honest, even though I am employed as the photographer, I often end up being a bit of a ‘wedding planner’. There has been many a wedding I have put down the camera to help fix a crumbling bouquet, retrieve forgotten rings or calm a bride due to imminent rain…  I guess that is my style… I’m there to help couples have an awesome day, whatever that means.
My wedding day vibe- I’m called Barefoot and Bearded for a reason… It’s more than a catchy name,  seriously… don’t expect me to wear shoes.
What am I passionate about? Man, life!! I love connecting with people, sharing incredible moments they will remember forever, finding secret locations then sharing them with my clients and doing shit my way…


Now let’s get down to business! Traditions… Where are we going wrong?!

Don’t get me wrong… I don’t actually have a problem with ‘traditions’ .. Ok, I hear you saying “Umm your tagline is literally ‘Fuck traditions’” .. What I mean is I have a problem if the ONLY reason you are doing something is because you feel like you HAVE to. So many couples have panic attacks about their first dance or cringe awkwardly as people demand the garter is removed… When I ask them WHY they want to do it… They invariably reply because (insert bossy relative) says we have to. This is where I come in as the advocate. If you guys DON’T want a fruit cake then DON’T have a fruit cake just because Great Aunt Gladice says you have to. It’s not her wedding- it’s YOURS!


From your experience being part of weddings all over the world, what are the essentials for planning an epic wedding? 

Staying true to yourselves. That is literally the only thing that matters. If you have designed the day around what really make you guys happy- you’re gonna have a good day.. Not rocket science right? 

And what are the top unnecessary things that cause stress leading up to and on the wedding day?

Unwanted input from people whose wedding day it is not… It is not your mums, sisters or friends wedding. It’s yours. So make yourself an imaginary bubble and every time unsolicited advice is offered, politely retreat to your bubble.


For the newly engaged – where should they start? 

Instagram, Pinterest and any other styling type social media is a good way to get an idea of your vibe.
Also, there a bunch of great wedding magazines out there whose job it is to feature awesome weddings. So if you’re really unsure where to start find a magazine that represents your style and chances are you will connect with the weddings between the pages.


What are your tips on choosing a photographer? 

Do they value meeting you face to face before the big day? Make sure you’re a real life couple to them, not just an invoice.  Are you happy to wholly and completely trust them? Not only if they copy your Pinterest board or edit slightly differently – you need to trust them whole heartedly. Will they connect with your guests? They will be big part of the day. You want your guests to feel comfortable with having them lurking around all day.
Lastly, do you actually like them? You’ll be seeing a whoooole lot of them so make sure they’re good company.
These sounds like wedding vows don’t they.…

Big wedding vs Elopements – should we just run away?!

The short answer- yes.


How do you pick the right location? What are your top wedding destinations to date and why were they memorable.

I love anywhere with untouched landscapes. The Remarkables in New Zealand, Blue Mountains in NSW, Faroe Island and Iceland. There is something about a deserted, snow-capped mountain range that says ‘forever’. I also love the connection between a couple when they are completely alone, on a mountain top… something you just can’t achieve in a heavily populated place.


We loved your own wild elopement in Tasmania last year! (Images below) What was the most incredible part of the day and was there anything you would do differently? 

 It’s the best feeling to be able to look back and truly say there was NOTHING I would change. It was the most relaxed and romantic day. A highlight would have to be the food served, the chef we brought along on the road trip harvested a lot of the produce on the way.
Actually, on second thought…There might be something I’d change- potentially I would have cried slightly less, I’m not a pretty crier….


Joel’s Wedding Images are by Joshua Mikhaiel

What’s next for Barefoot & Bearded? And will we see you back in New Zealand again soon? 

Yes. I have quite a few jobs over there in the next year. I am actually in the process of finding someone over there who wants to do a home exchange for our little city cottage! Hit me up if you’re keen!

If you’d like to hear Joel speak more on this topic, grab your tickets to Wild Hearts Auckland now from right here and check him out on the main stage at 2pm this Saturday, 16th June at Shed 10. Run wild with us…..

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