I always took lots of photographs as a child, with my interest being sparked one Christmas by the gift of a Kodak Instamatic camera. I gradually moved through Olympus XA-2s, Olympus Trips and then my first SLR, the tank-like Zenit. I took lots of pictures through my school days and developed my own black and white prints at the house of another keen photographer who was one of my parent’s friends.
When I moved on to University, photography took more of a back seat as other interests took over. On graduation I moved into the world of IT as a software developer. This seemed fine for a while but working for large organizations (I worked for the Rank Group, did a stint contracting and then worked for the Royal Bank of Scotland for many years) left me bored and disillusioned.
About seven years ago I had a nasty cycling accident and was awarded compensation. My wife said I should treat myself to something nice and so I decided to rekindle my love of photography and buy an entry level digital SLR (a Nikon D70). I took lots of snaps of landscapes and my children. However, I wanted to improve my skills so I began the Amateur Photographer Diploma course. This helped me to think more deeply about composition, exposure, movement and light.
At a similar time my department at work went through a round of redundancies. I "escaped" at the time but the experience forced me to think about what I wanted to do longer term. I really didn’t want to work in IT any more so began investigating alternative options. Photography seemed an obvious avenue and so I signed up for a six- month social and wedding photography course with the local training organization Barrett and Coe and began shooting weddings in my spare time.
The number of weddings I shot grew nicely and I began to invest further in my skills by going on more training courses with the likes of Peter Prior, Damien Lovegrove and of course the BIPP. It was always my intention to go full time at some point in the future but the decision was effectively made for me in late 2009 when I was made redundant. Using my redundancy payment I converted my double garage to an office/client meeting area and spent considerable time ensuring that my website was Google-friendly. This paid dividends as business grew nicely in 2010. I shot just under 30 weddings that year and had some fantastic feedback from some very satisfied clients.
My personal approach to a wedding is to concentrate on recording the day rather than controlling it. Having said that I nearly always spend some time with couples on their own to get some stylish posed shots, often using supplementary lighting such as Speedlights or video lights. This mix of reportage with a small number of setup shots seems to go down well as clients get to enjoy most of the day unhindered but still come away with some "wow" shots.
The future is looking bright. For 2011 I have been able to increase my prices with no detrimental effect on bookings and have seen my referral business grow substantially. Looking at the longer term, I hope to increase prices again at the end of this season and most importantly continue to learn new skills and refine my existing ones through a continual process of practice and training.