A couple months ago we had an email from a GCSE Student asking me some very good questions about the photography business, how it all started and if she could come to the studio to see more of the work that Emily and I do. I thought it might be good to post it on the blog for a read!
What inspired me to start photography?
My Godmother is into photography. When I was a LOT younger she saw I had a really terrible plastic camera. She gave me my first, what I would class as “decent camera”, her old Agfa 35mm which had a fixed 42mm f2.8 lens – I still have it! From then on I wanted to photograph events in my life so I could remember them better when I looked at the photos.
At school and college there was no full-time course for photography but I did a darkroom technique class during my lunch breaks at Bridgwater College which got me a City & Guilds qualification of some sort. I learned to develop the negatives and print the photographs I took so I started taking more and more photos as I could develop them for free! I wasn’t ever bothered by the grade as it was a hobby which I could add to my CV to “expand my horizons” as my RAF Careers officer had said which would increase my chances of selection for the RAF (as that was the plan back then to join as a Pilot Officer – which I was selected for, went to RAF Cranwell and then failed my medical on my eyesight….very bad times indeed!) I never really thought that photography would be anything more than a hobby – funny how things turn out – Stay in school kids!
Emily and I bought our first DSLR on holiday, a Canon EOS 350D. Well actually Emily bought it as she wanted one but I thought I’d have a play with it and being a tech geek I figured it out and was soon using it more than she was (sorry Emily!). It pretty much went everywhere with us including a friends wedding. The couple loved the photos and from there the work started coming in just from referrals. It’s how we get the majority of our work still. We love this as it means people are liking what we’re doing and talking about. At first the company was just me, capturing weddings and Emily would help with portrait shoots. We did these at our home by converting our living room each Saturday with full white backdrop and some studio lights I had picked up. That all got too much each weekend and we were lucky enough to hear of some space in Bridgwater town centre. This would become our first studio in Green Dragon Lane – but that’s an entirely different story!
What type of photography do you do?
Along with Emily we mainly capture Weddings and we truly love it! Each wedding is different and we love capturing the details for the couples to remember. They really are the perfect opportunity to get capture pretty much every kind of photography and combine it into the job – reportage, portraits, landscape, architecture, product and automative photography all in one job. Emily and I have been awarded numerous times for our work and have work featured in a couple magazines including the front cover and editorial piece for the Spring 2015 edition of Wedding Whispers Magazine and photographs in BRIDES Magazine (sister mag to Vogue and Glamour). We also have our Portrait Studio, “Orchard Studios”, near Cannington in Somerset where we meet with wedding clients and shoot family portraits and bump and newborn photography. We’re blessed to have found the premises which are set in a working apple orchard! It was a mission to get it up to a working standard but it’s a great space and amazing for outdoors portrait shots, so much so that we have customers book purely for outdoor shoots!
On my own I shoot lots of other types of photography from landscapes, wide-field astrophotography (stars, milkyway etc) and automotive, the latter of which I do contracted work for Mini Magazine where I’ve had work featured with more planned for the future as well as Drive Southwest – a super car hire company – click the link boys and commence drooling!
I also shoot corporate product and marketing photography and events, gigs, fundraising events, prom photography and festivals (including Glastonbury Festival last year). I also DJ a bit and co-run a night in Taunton, Somerset called RUBBADUBDUB so I do event/club photography for that too. What I really love about our photography work is getting to meet all the new people and getting to travel of course…we LOVE travelling and seeing new places and immersing ourselves in the culture so it’s massive bonus!
Where have you been?
Our wedding, portrait and event work has taken us all around the UK from deepest Cornwall to Devon, Dorset, Wiltshire and Somerset to London and the surrounding counties (Oxfordshire, West Sussex, Surrey, Essex, Kent etc) up to Sheffield and across to Anglesey in North Wales. A couple years ago we flew from Bristol to Glasgow and took a bus up to the amazing western Highlands of Scotland to capture a wedding for 4 days. Since then we’ve been to Crete, Corfu, Malaysia and the island of Koh Samui in Thailand to capture weddings also and undertaken work for a restaurant/venue near Barcelona in Spain.
What photos do you like taking?
I literally love taking every kind of photo. My aim is to capture it perfectly and create the end result as I had it in my mind when I saw the shot. Anyone who knows me knows I do love cars though so I guess combine traveling somewhere exotic with shooting (and driving) some super cars and I’d be a happy bunny.
If you have to show me best way to take a picture what would it be?
(Assuming you’re using an SLR camera and not a phone) I’d start by saying to hold it steady using both hands. Right hand on the grip with forefinger above the trigger. Left hand on or near the lens to steady the shot. Good technique is the foundation. Bring your dominant eye (are you left or right eye’d? No seriously, this is a real thing and I might do a blog post on it in the future) to the viewfinder and see what you would like to photograph. Once you have your subject in the frame and (assuming you have the exposure settings all correct) press the trigger to take the photograph.
However, it’s not that simple if you want to be more creative with it. A more in depth answer would start by asking what the subject was, what’s the location and lighting situation and what sort of shot would you like to achieve? The equipment you have would also determine what settings to use (don’t let anyone fool you, every pro tog doesn’t only shoot on manual…) Learn the camera you have, it’s strengths and weaknesses and also the right situations to use what settings it has. Above all, ENJOY IT !! The best way to learn photography is to get right in there and start taking shots of your friends, family or anything that grabs your eye. It’s a lot easier (and cheaper) now with digital than it was in the film only days where we’d have to wait a couple days whilst the film was sent off to the processing labs or we did it ourselves in the college darkroom. Digital gives you that ease of use and instant satisfaction if you’re learning.
Why do you like taking photos?
This might sound really cheesy but in all seriousness it’s having the ability to perfectly capture and preserve a single moment in time for all eternity. For an event as special as a wedding or newborn portrait I want to do this for the really great people who find our work, see what we’re about, love it and ultimately book us. We have customers who’s family or couples portraits we’ve shot. The couple then got engaged and it’s amazing! They then ask us to shoot their wedding and we’re really honoured, so we get to do their engagement shoot and chat about their big day with them. We then capture their wedding and celebrations and before you know it maybe they start their own family and we capture that! WE LOVE THIS!!!
Cheesy answers aside (and because these questions were put to me by a GCSE student which may or may not have a possible impact on her career choice), it CAN pay well also. However, like many jobs, it’s not one for the lazy! It’s not all super glamourous hob-nobbing with high society and celebrities or getting paid to travel to amazing distant lands and locations. You have to take the rough with the smooth. It can be LONG hours carrying heavy professional equipment followed by even more hours editing – especially for wedding photography. After the day’s shooting we’ll spend 25-35 hours on editing per wedding, compiling, checking every individual image, editing and proofing the final images.…and don’t even get me started on going through airport security with all the kit!
So there you have it….a more in-depth into the how’s and why’s of the business.