Q&A with Sam & Louise
(This is actually just Louise!)
How long have you been shooting weddings for?
About 6 and half years now! It feels like yesterday, but we actually started shooting weddings in 2011.
Do you shoot anything other than weddings?
Not anymore, no, aside from couples shoots. Like most people, when we started out we shot anything and everything we were asked to though. It wasn’t long before we decided that weddings were our thing and we stopped offering other photography services later that same year. Once in a while a friend will convince us to shoot something else for them, like a newborn session, but weddings will always be our favourite and our primary focus.
What’s your favourite thing about shooting weddings?
The answer to this definitely changes every time i’m asked! I think it depends on the wedding to be honest. Sometimes I find myself besotted with the couple if they’re particularly lovely. Sometimes it’s an awesome, fun loving crowd and sometimes it’s a killer set of speeches with some brilliant reactions. I suppose generally it’s the buzz of never quite knowing what you’re going to get and how that day is going to progress. You get to step into the lives of a brand new family at such an intimate, significant time to them and and just watch it all unfold. I love that. The voyeur in me loves it and the wild, imaginative story teller in me loves it too.
How many weddings do you shoot a year?
On average 30-35. We try to keep it at 35 max really, but it just depends how the bookings come in. Ideally, we don’t like to shoot more than one a week or 5 in a month and we never take on more than two back to back. So if we’re shooting on the Friday and Saturday, we’ll never take one on for the Thursday or Sunday as well.
How did you get into photography? Do you have any qualifications?
It was accidental really. Neither of us had ever really had much of an interest in photography, but I [Louise] ended up studying it at college, when my original A-level choices weren’t compatible with one another. Because of how the timetables worked out I could only study 2 of my subject choices. At the time, in my mind, having 2 A-Levels was pointless as you needed 3 to get into uni so I randomly picked up a BTEC National diploma in photography instead as it was equivalent (points wise) to 3 A-Levels. I actually hated the course most of the time, but came out top of the class with a triple Distinction. I then went on to University and left anything photography related behind. I gained a BSc honours degree in Psychology….completely unrelated. After graduating I planned to go into teaching and started working with disabled and special needs kids in a secondary school. I started to dabble in photography again during this time, helping some of the kids complete photography projects. Sam was kind of just dragged along for the ride. He’d studied graphic design and had only picked up a camera for the first time as part of his final major project the year before. Things just seemed to fall into place after that.
What’s in your kit bag?
I wonder myself half the time, it’s so bloody heavy! We each shoot with 2, Canon 5D MK III cameras and we each have our own 35mm and 85mm lenses. Our 50mm, 70-200mm and 24-70mm are also staples in our kit bag for every wedding. Sometimes the tilt shift makes an appearance. Aside from that it’s just the usual flashes, triggers and miscellaneous bits
Any plans to jump ship and swicth to Nikon, Sony etc?
None at all. I couldn’t be less of a gear head to be honest. What i’m shooting with just doesn’t interest me. For me, the build quality and so on has always been there with Canon so i’ve (we’ve) stuck with them. Would I blindly stick with Canon if something that better suited our business came along? Of course not. But so far, nothing anyone else has to offer has grabbed my attention enough for it to be worth considering.
Favourite ever purchase/best investment?
At the moment it’s my Spider belt. I’ve always used dual straps like the holdfast, but after a car accident recently i’m really having to look after my back, neck and shoulders. The Spider belt has been a godsend, taking the weight off of these areas.
Long term, it’s been our Think Tank airport security case. It was one of our first “big” purchases and you’d barely know it was used. It has been with us for over 200 weddings and there’s barely a mark on it. And that’s no reflection on us, Sam in particular is heavy handed- it’s just built to last and is so versatile.
Biggest mistake purchase/regret purchase?
I don’t think there’s been one big one, but we spent a lot of money on crap in our first few years. Buying non branded batteries I think it a stupid idea and false economy. I used to go through 2-3 a day in our first couple of years and you’d often get error messages. At the time £60 or so for a single canon battery seemed like a big investment, but ours have been going for over 5 years and still last all day.
Biggest pet peeve about the industry?
The exploitation of photographers definitely. So many awards!! Master this or fearless that. None of it really means anything anymore. You’re sold the idea that it makes you stand out, but you’re just another number ultimately. It’s disheartening I think.
Best bit of advice you ever received?
I’ve drawn a blank. I either let advice go in one ear and out the other, or people avoid giving it!
This quote “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” has been a constant in our business though, right from the beginning. It’s so true. We try to make sure every single client has an amazing experience with us, from the initial point of contact.
Worst bit of advice you ever received?
“Don’t shoot weddings, people who shoot weddings have failed at everything else”
One of my old photography lecturers. He was a massive arsehole. He probably still is. Can I say that? He was.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in weddings now?
There are no magic buttons. There are no shortcuts to success. There are no big secrets. What you put in, is what you’ll get back. Don’t copy. Be inspired and forge your own path. Don’t look up to the people who shout the loudest, look up to those who’s silence speaks volumes.
How does the photography industry compare now to when you were starting out?
I’m not really sure to be honest! Until a couple of years ago I never really paid any attention to “the industry” we just plodded along, doing our own thing. Prices have rocketed amongst new photographers though, haven’t they? Or am I just completely out of the loop? I think it was about 3 years before we felt we could justify charging £1k+ now that’s the going rate for someone who’s just bought their first camera from argos, ha!
What other photographers do you admire?
Is it terrible to say that I genuinely don’t follow anyone else’s work? I have a few photographers on my friends list and i’ll occasionally have a whizz through someone’s blog if it appears on my feed, but other than that I keep my head very much in the clouds. I admire anyone giving it a chance to be honest. Being self employed is an uphill struggle and photography can be a scary, intimidating place to take your first steps. I like to focus on what i’m doing (what we’re doing) really.