What led you to pursue photography as a career?
A lot of photographers say “I’ve been interested in photography since I was 10”. That is however not the case for me. I am a classically trained musician with a BMus degree that followed in my parents’ footsteps of becoming teachers. I taught high school music for a while, but after the birth of my first child in 2009, I couldn’t go back to the 8 to 5 job I had and resigned. I bought a small camera after my son was born to at least just have a half decent camera to take photos of my kids and did a short beginner workshop with Jonty Hansford at the then PE Technikon to understand the basics.
Shortly after, my best friend got married and because “I had this camera” and “did this course” it was decided that I was the perfect photographer to do her wedding. I first said no, then maybe, but after explaining that this can potentially be the biggest mistake she’s ever made and that our friendship was on the line if I messed up, I said yes. I had NO equipment other than my Canon 450D and one flash…. So off I went and photographed my first wedding with a on-camera flash, ONE battery and ONE memory card. It was great fun, everybody was relaxed, because we were friends, I could be honest and say when something didn’t quite work and do a retake. After that wedding, friends of hers saw the photos and asked whether I’d be interested in doing their wedding as well. It was only then when I first started thinking that could maybe be a career option.
After I made the conscious decision, I did a mentoring session with RRAD photography in Jeffreys Bay, also a wedding workshop in Stellenbosch with Jean-Pierre Uys and have booked a mentoring session with Christine Meintjes at the end of August. I also got involved with the photography club more by going to outings, attending their meetings and meeting other photographers. It is important that you surround yourself with positive influences and good friends that share your passion.
I wish I was “into” photography all my life. I’ve had the privilege of travelling to the UK, Switzerland and Mauritius already and the photos were all done with a mik-en-druk. Wish I can redo those with the knowledge I have now!
Looking at your work I noticed you enjoy experimenting with different types of photography, do you have a favorite style?
I don’t have a specific or a favourite style other than “relaxed” – the brides I photograph can see that in my photos before they even book me – I don’t like posing people, I like natural looking photos and currently that is my best-selling point. I do however LOVE a shallow depth of field and never use more than a single focus point, so that can maybe be seen as a line connecting it all?
If you could go anywhere in the world to a photo shoot where would that be?
A 5th avenue roof top wedding in New York can be fun? Haha
And maybe Italy or Venice… I’ve always loved Venice – not sure why, just fell in love with it while studying and learning about all the European musicians.
What is the most rewarding aspect of photography for you?
I am quite creative and being able to give a client a product that is unique and one-of-a-kind is very rewarding. I have built so many lovely relationships and friendships over the past 5 years of doing this, you meet someone doing their wedding, if they are happy, they will keep supporting and recommending you. You end up going through all their special times with them afterwards… Maternity photos, newborn photos and eventually family photos and.
Also the fact I can give a family something to treasure. A friend of mine passed away last year, only a few weeks after I did their family photos at his daughters’ first birthday. I was so happy that I could give that family something to hold for ever. I love seeing myself grow – from where I was 5 years ago, to what I am capable of now, is also very motivating.
Lastly, any advice for aspiring photographers out there?
I have a pain with people copying my and other photographers’ work. If you are interested in pursuing this as a career, find something that you can offer that is unique and different. Yes, I also look at others’ work to get inspirations and ideas, but I never copy.
Find yourself a mentor and shadow him/her for a while to see how it is done.
KNOW your camera and equipment inside out and know how it works. It is important to be able to give your client the absolute best you can with what you have. You don’t need a very expensive camera to start with, what is important is knowing what its abilities are and how to get the most out of it.
Find yourself a reliable printing company and stick with them. Your printing company is in actual fact an extension of your own business and once you create and have a relationship with them, they will always help you out, give advice and have your best interest at heart. You won’t just be another customer that needs stuff printed, they will make sure that the product that leaves their shop is exactly what you want. Your actual printed photo is just as important as a digital version.
Never think that something can be “photoshopped” out – yes there are times where you need to, but learn to set your photos up in such a way that you’ll need minimum time at the computer fixing things. In the beginning I did that, and cropped and cloned stuff out for hours. Sometimes taking a step back or sideways before taking a shot will save you a lot of time afterwards.
As I mentioned in question one, it is important to surround yourself with people who share your passion. Join a photography club and meet other photographers.
Never be in competition with anyone but yourself. There will ALWAYS be other photographers, but better YOUR product and it will sell itself.