Sometime late last year I got an email from Kat asking if I wanted to go to Paris to do a shoot with her, Gala & Shauna. My answer was of course an enthusiastic ”Oui ma Petit Filous!!” They’d bagged themselves a fabulous apartment that we shot in, but of course I also wanted some photos by the Eiffel Tower. On the Eurostar on our return, I got to thinking about the tower and its purpose in the city. Sure, it’s a big tourist pull, but I started to wonder how on earth it got built in the first place and why it’s even there at all. So I did some research on the most recognisable iconic landmark in the French capital.
Paris is a beautiful city with plenty of amazing architecture, lots of culture and umpteen things to do but before the tower was built, many of its citizens were moving away and tourists were not exactly flocking there. Commissioned for the Exposition Universelle, a world fair held in Paris in 1889, Monsieur Eiffel’s brief was to create a temporary structure to mark the entrance to the fair. Despite facing much criticism, he seized the opportunity and designed the tallest structure in the world at that time. Once completed, visitors to Paris raved about the innovative lattice tower, left armed with their photographs and talked non-stop of going up in the amazing lifts or dining in its fine restaurant with amazing views. Suddenly the fortune of Paris had improved and these visitors were filling up the hotels and cafes. People rapidly moved back to Paris and it was suddenly one of the most exciting and most visited capital cities in the world. So much so that the decision was made to never take it down, and to this day no trip to the city of love is complete without a visit.
There are obvious fashions in weddings just like with clothing, interiors, food and just about everything we consume. However if you want to maintain any kind of longevity in the industry is it wrong to appear to be too much of a particular trend?
I actually get asked about this quite a lot as I guess it could be perceived that I am part of the fashion for vintage toning on wedding images. Ironically, this toning is something that I started doing when I switched from shooting weddings on film to digital a couple of years ago. I have always tweaked the colour on my images, whether it was toning black & white prints or cross processing print film in the chemicals for slide film and vice versa. I like to find out how things work and then mess with them. In the 90s I worked for the experimental Blah Blah Blah magazine and the art director, Chris Ashworth, used to always prefer the images that would normally get binned. He liked to to push the boundaries of everything. At the time, I was simultaneously working for a number of teenage pop magazines so it was utterly liberating to be able to do something creative and definitely my favourite magazine to work for.
So I guess it was inevitable that when I finally embraced digital technology for shooting weddings, I would start to seek ways of messing with the colours again. I have always been passionate about old photographs and all they represent in our social history, so if Photoshop was going to give me the ability to experiment, then I was going to! I looked for ways to recreate those faded tones that old colour images have. At the same time the kinds of wedding dresses and decor items that were gaining popularity we’re also very vintage, and so suddenly it was a ‘thing’.
The week after anti bullying week, both my daughters experienced incidents of bullying at school. They are aged 7 and 4 and that Friday, we sat down at the kitchen table and discussed bullying and what we can do about it. Now they are both fairly feisty and have handled this situation well, but halfway through telling telling them ways I think they can stop this, I realised that actually they never will.
We were all looking at this as a playground issue and thinking that outside of school it doesn’t exist but of course, sadly it does. I can’t give them a magic formula that means they will never face this again because I know for a fact that they will. I am a grown up and it still happens to me. My friend Nikky who is very fabulous, very self assured and very successful in LA was there and said yes, thinking about it this also happens to her. There is a guy in her building trying to bully her right now. So I told my little girls that bullying is something that people will try to do to you your whole life and the only thing you can control is how you react to it.
It’s December – everybody is gearing up for Christmas and I mean everyone. It’s like the world stands still and gets covered in fairy lights and glitter. I love Christmas so much that we are always the first people in our street to put up our tree and I totally wind down on work so that I can make the most of this magical family time of year.
What’s important to bear in mind is that your potential clients are doing the exact same thing… Year after year I find that once the leaves start descending from the trees – from around October onwards – the enquiries seem to slow up and get a little less serious. The amount of folk wanting to negotiate on price seems to dramatically go up too and I know that I am not alone in experiencing this. It has been a hot topic in the facebook group for the photographers that have been to Photography Farm in recent weeks, and I have had emails and DMs from other photographers seeking advice on this as well. I have covered discounting before in the Green Room so this article isn’t about that. Instead I want to encourage you to see the bigger picture. I’ve been doing this a long time and I noticed this same pattern year after year. My typical year for enquiries goes a little something like this…
Jan-March: Panic Bookers for that Summer
March-Sept: Organised Bookers for the following Summer
Oct-Dec: Casual Enquiries for the following Summer
We’ve all been in situations when something work-related just hasn’t gone our way. And if it’s something you feel you have worked super hard for then it’s even worse. Gutting even. Not everything we plan for or aim towards always comes off, so how can you cope with a professional disappointment without taking it out on your loved ones or hitting the gin?
I have all kinds of mini-disappointments in my working life. From not being booked by an awesome sounding couple, to pressing publish on a blog post to a sea of silence. In general however, life is good. I work hard and most times I have happy news. All kinds of opportunities come my way and I like to think I grab them all by the short & curlies and make the best of them. I love my clients and I get to work with great photographers at Photography Farm. Plus when all the hard work from the workshop is done, we get to kick back and make use of the rockstar facilities – it’s really pretty great. I even recently went to New York because I was invited to speak for the B&H Event Space and The Blogcademy. Amazing. In between the two events we hung out and generally had a blast. Recently however, I faced a big career disappointment.
A while back I was told that I was in line for a huge worldwide industry award. I had been nominated by some pretty high up people, whose radar I had no idea I was even on. The first thing I did was call Kat to scream my news down the phone as I knew she would understand what a big deal it was. It was super early in the morning but hey… that’s what friends are for. I felt like I had won an Oscar. However when I looked into the small print for the award, it turned out I couldn’t qualify. I was sooooo totally gutted. I felt like I had been invited to Buckingham Palace thinking I was getting an OBE only to be ushered in the servant’s entrance and told I had to polish the silver.
Today I want to tackle the tricky issue of managing client expectation in the wedding industry. Sooner or later no matter who you are or what level you are at, the chances are that you will encounter some sort of complaint or confrontation in your business. We work with people who are often planning the biggest experience of their lives and there can be a lot of pressure all round. A wedding can be a bit like all your Christmases at once – if your family all get on then brilliant, but a wedding can often highlight any issues too. Then there are all the money concerns connected with weddings. Good for you if you have a bottomless pit of cash to splash, but for many couples a wedding can be a huge financial strain on them or their immediate families. Add to that some of the other pressure that couples can put on themselves… Like making their day the stand out amongst their circle of friends, getting super carried away with how their wedding is going to look, or being obsessed with making their wedding ‘blogworthy’.
I have recently noticed a slight shift in the industry that I am not entirely sure is a completely good thing. I used to have to pitch to my couples about having their weddings featured on a blog or in a magazine, as lets face it, having that press is good for me and all their suppliers to promote our businesses for free. In the last year however, I have started to notice that I am often asked by couples about submitting to blogs even before I have shot their wedding. Of course I love to photograph creative weddings, I love to see my work featured and yes I may even be borderline OCD about details, but recently I have actually started encountering couples that would be devastated if their wedding didn’t get featured. It’s as if it’s the validation that the wedding was a success. This can really lead to a lot of additional pressure all round – both for me and my clients.