(Above, Alex at the Temple of Hatshepsut, Luxor, Egypt, January 2008)
What follows is a little personal history of how I ended up as a wedding photographer. Don’t read unless you can’t sleep 😉
A lot of modern photographers claim they’ve been taking photos professionally for 20 or 30 years…and then turn out to be 30 years old! Not me. My route to becoming a full-time, professional, specialist wedding photographer was a pretty circuitous one, but one which I think has really helped me become excellent at what I do.
I was an arty kid, winning multiple prizes for art (drawing and painting) at the two secondary schools I attended. But I was never into photography; I didn’t really understand the technical aspects and besides it cost a lot of money in the pre digital era to get the photos developed, and I was more interested in buying music, or oil and acrylic paints. In my 20s I ended up in the Civil Service, working for the Land Registry and then, for 10 years, the Home Office in the area of political Asylum. I got to a pretty high level with a lot of responsibility, but it didn’t leave much time or energy for much else.
I’d become keen on photography in my mid 20s as I loved gadgets and new technology, so I was an early adopter of digital cameras. I’d started using Photoshop as well, and soon the two hobbies merged a little…taking photos and then trying to improve them digitally. Fast forward 5 years; I was about 6 months from getting married to my lovely, gorgeous and talented wife Beverley and wanted a good camera to take to the Maldives for our honeymoon. I was hoping to learn to dive and wanted something I could get an underwater case for…after a lot of research I ended up buying an Olympus C5050z. It was a revelation. It had full manual controls and was pretty professional, with a metal body and a fabulous f1.8 lens throughout it’s zoom range. Unheard of. I wanted to make the most of it, and so for the first time really started to think about photography, and composition and the technical aspects. I think I had a good natural instinct already from the arty stuff I used to do. But more than that I had a great mentor who I’d met through an Olympus online forum, this guy set me various weekly tasks to help me learn through practical experience. I eventually found out he was a published author of many books on how to learn photography – I was really lucky to get his 1-to-1 help and will always be grateful to him 🙂 (He remains nameless to save embarrassing him 😉 )
(Below, fish taken with my 5050 whilst on honeymoon)
Anyhow, I ploughed through his tasks and also bought a load of photography books and magazines; I really got quite obsessed, so I improved very quickly as the months passed. By the time of our wedding I was a pretty decent amateur photographer. I continued to improve over the next year. I shot some weddings of friends, and then did a free gig for friends of a friend who were having their vows renewed. I really enjoyed it. A lot of pros warned me before I started about how stressful wedding photography was due to the pressure and expectations on you – but I have never found it like that. I’d had a job that was sometimes very highly pressured and to me, it was a breath of fresh air to be reliant on myself and my own abilities. From then on I always imagined that one day, I’d end up with wedding photography as my sole profession.
2009. Our daughter, Siena was born in January. I was going into my third year of professional wedding photography and had 25 or so weddings booked. It was the “tipping point” as we used to say in the Home Office! I’d reached a point where it was going to be really difficult to keep a full-time job and do the photography. The fact is, something would have to give, and after returning to work following paternity leave I seemed to us that the best move was to leave the Home Office, and become a full-time wedding photographer (and do some baby minding too!).
Now in 2017, that’s where I am! It was the best decision I have ever made. No more commutes down the M6 or 4.30am wake ups to get to London for a 9am meetings that end up with me getting home tired and grumpy at 10pm; no missing my daughter and wishing I was able to see her more. I love being able to be a good dad, and I love being able to focus all my creative and work energy on wedding photography. I don’t love the school run each day, but who does ?!! 😉
Although it IS my job it still doesn’t feel like one; I still feel privileged to share that most special of days, the wedding day, and it’s this that I think makes me successful, and makes previous clients so keen to recommend me. I love my job, I love photography, I love weddings and I love being the one to create something that the bride and groom, and all their current and future family will enjoy for many years.
PS If you didn’t go to sleep after reading that I suggest a trip to your GP…or a warm glass of milk 😉