Are We Human?
Well what can I say? This time ten years ago I was sitting at a desk in a factory. It was ok, but dark, loud, a bit smelly, very unrewarding and my creativity was stifled. I got more and more depressed sitting there watching that great big world fly past without an ounce of thanks for all those extra hours, all those great ideas, all that passion and enthusiasm I had. I knew it could be directed to a better cause. On the day I quit my job a song came on the radio as I drove out of the factory gates for the last time, “Human” by The Killers; never has a song resonated so strongly with me; it hit the nail right on the head and every time I hear it and that line “cut the cord” I get that same shudder down my spine, that same sense of freedom and it feels awesome! Since then I’ve been shooting people and animals (not with a rifle) in all stages of their lives and for all occasions. As well as my own family, I’ve taken pictures of newborns just a few days old, toddlers, teens, engagements, a lot of weddings, right the way through to 99 year old twins for a commercial project. It’s been a pleasure to meet so many wonderful people and create so many memories for clients to cherish. I love old photographs and always acknowledge that sense of legacy; when that toddler is fully grown and looks back on that day taking pictures in the woods with mummy & daddy, or a happy couple reflect on years of marriage with a glass of champagne and a look through their wedding album, it’s such a pleasure to have touched so many peoples lives. In fact, as I’m writing this I’ve had a lovely message from a lady who unfortunately just lost a loved one to cancer. She wanted to tell me how much the photographs I took of this lady at her daughters wedding mean to her… I got a little emotional but it just reinforces the power of photography.
I mostly shoot weddings and it’s always been a complete honour but it’s also really hard work. Anyone thinking of getting into wedding photography should understand the personal sacrifices of working most weekends. That time I give up with my own family makes me sad now that the kids are at school I miss them and my wife so much. I try and make up for my absence whenever I can but life as a wedding photographer can be very consuming indeed. Anyway, I just want to take this moment to personally thank my beautiful and supportive wife for helping me make this whole thing possible over the last ten years; it’s all your fault for buying me that new camera all those years ago. I really couldn’t do it all without you.
How many weddings? I’m sad to say that I’ve lost count but looking back through the archives its over 300 now! Thats probably somewhere in the region 100,000 miles travelled all across the world, and around half a million clicks of the camera… And that’s just the weddings! I really was quite amazed when I added it all up and I’m surprised that my trigger finger hasn’t worn down to the bone by now. On top of all the shooting, there’s all the editing and I dread to think how many hours I’ve spent adjusting and enhancing photographs. I guess the saving grace is that at least being self employed I get to choose which 80 hours a week I work… I wouldn’t change it for the world though.
Creatives are always looking for something different, so I guess its easy for those quirky and alternative weddings to stand out, like maybe Cassie with her green dress or Ant & Holly’s super hero themed wedding. Then of course there’s clients flying me off to far away places like New York and Thailand to shoot weddings (I know right? I still pinch myself now!) It’s so hard to choose any single one image or day because all weddings are wonderful and precious in their own way. I’ve won awards, been interviewed by the trade, featured on loads of wedding blogs and publications, I’ve even had a couple front covers on some glossy magazines. It’s quite exciting walking into WH Smith and seeing your pictures staring at you on the shelf.
The last ten years haven’t come without challenges: The heat, the snow and of course the good old British rain featured quite a lot and wreak havoc with photographers’ stress levels. I remember driving to one wedding at Somerford hall in 2011 and the temperature gauge on the car was minus 11! Now that’s cold! I’ve laughed and cried at the best and the worst wedding speeches, been offered and refused about a million drinks and also been fed some delicious food (and some rock hard cheese sandwiches but we won’t talk about that!). Once I ate three wedding breakfasts in three days… I should be well over weight but I guess walking 16,000 steps at each wedding helps me keep my slimline physique. I’ve seen lost dresses, drunken best men, a page boy lose the rings in the church yard and the occasional grumpy vicar but thankfully not many of those.
It would be impossible to choose a handful of images from so many weddings. There’s the little unique moments, the award winning ones, the ones I’ve felt are my most creative. Different images mean things to different people and I love the images that mean the most to my clients, but there’s also huge amounts of satisfaction in the images that I’ve had to work really hard to get, like when I didn’t get a nice shot of the really shy paige boy all through the day, but then nail a killer shot of him dancing later at night!
Words can’t express how fortunate I feel being able to earn a living as a full time photographer, and of course that wouldn’t be possible without my clients. With that in mind, I would like to close by expressing sincere thanks to all of my wonderful clients, past and present. It’s been an honour and a pleasure to have had the privilege of working with every single last one of you.
To mark my ten year anniversary I’ve decided to launch a JustGiving collective called Group Shot to raise money for charity; the idea is aimed at wedding photographers, but anyone working in the industry can join and contribute too. I intend to donate £10 of my fee from every wedding I book to Macmillan Cancer Support, and already there’s a growing number of photographers on board, supporting a number of different charities. Every year 250,000 couples tie the knot with the wedding industry in the UK alone estimated to be worth well over £500 million. Imagine the possibilities if all wedding industry suppliers could contribute for each wedding they were a part of: £10 x 250,000 weddings; that’s £2.5 million without breaking a sweat! Read more about it at the link below.
Here’s to the next ten years!!!