There are a few things you need to know about Emma Case before you read today’s Inspirations interview. Emma and I met about 2 years ago when she submitted this wedding to me. It was only the second wedding she’d ever shot. This was before the whole ‘vintage’ editing that you now see, like, everywhere was popular and I fell instantly in love with her unique style. A few months later we decided to meet up in London. We went for sushi and I fell instantly in love again, only this time with her.
I really don’t have enough words to express how much I love this girl or how bloody talented she is. I heard her speak about her work for the first time at the Featherlove workshop this summer and I wanted to cry because she’s just so damn inspirational. Needless to say, she was the obvious choice to be included in this series…also because she’s just as obsessed with her cat Max and I am with Henry & Rachel. If you have’t heard of Emma before this then my dears, you are in for a treat.
…oh and the (in your face) thing? Yeah private joke, sorry about that…I can’t really remember where it came from but it was something to do with making everything in a conversation rhyme. I now can’t say her name without adding it onto the end now though. I’m pretty hilarious no?
Photography Credit: Emma Case by Anna Hardy Photography
So go on then, what’s the Emma Case story? How did you get into photography and how did you make the transition from that to being the all encompassing wedding photography force that you are now… in I might add, a dauntingly short amount of time?
Over the past 10 years I’ve worked as an actress. I’ve always hated saying that (but that’s what it says on my Self Assessment form) because when you tell people that they say “What you been in?”….. well nothing actually… on TV anyway. I’ve done a lot of theatre work in schools and have travelled the country teaching kids about sex, drugs, puberty, healthy eating – you name it. Most of this sort of work gets a bit of a bad reputation but I’m immensely proud of it and have absolutely loved every second. I’ve got to see the whole country, worked with some fantastic people, had an absolute ball at work every day and it probably sounds corny but maybe made a small difference, somewhere, maybe.
I then started to learn Sign Language in 2008. I volunteered for a Deaf and hearing drama group and then started working as a Support Worker for Deaf Adults in between acting jobs. I completely fell in love with the language, the culture… everything. I then got an acting job with Deafinitely Theatre (a Deaf led Theatre Company) touring a play called ‘Double Sentence’ at The Soho Theatre in November 09. It was the biggest job I’d ever had and when I think back to when I was at college… this sort of job was what I had dreamed about doing… so in a weird way I felt that I had accomplished what I had set out to do.
Meanwhile Pete, my now husband, gave me my first DSLR on Christmas Day 07. Thinking back now, I’m not actually sure why I asked for a camera… I’d had a polaroid camera for a few years and cheap film cameras when I went on holiday but I wasn’t one of these people who had a camera in their hand from the age of six or anything. The following day, Boxing Day, me and Pete went for a walk (with my new camera) and he proposed. I began to research things for our wedding and started with the photography but I couldn’t find the kind of wedding photography that I had in my head. However what I did find was a world of American weddings and photographers that just completely blew me away. They were natural and fun and relaxed and completely exciting and full of emotion… I wanted to take photos like that. So I became a complete photography nerd – reading blogs, watching tutorials, staying up til 3am playing with Photoshop… just soaking up as much as I could.
In May 2009 I decided to start a flickr account. I’d been taking pictures of Pete’s band and my friends’ children so it was a good place to put my pictures. About 6 months later some friends of ours, Ruth and Dan got in touch to say that they were getting married and would I take pictures. It was going to be a relaxed wedding at a Youth Hostel, Ruth was wearing a vintage dress, lots of wild flowers in jam jars, cupcakes etc. It’s funny, writing that now it seems pretty normal, but back then it was pretty different to what was out there. I photographed the wedding and put some images up on Flickr and and my own little photography blog. I was blogging about our life, our cat and my breakfast. It’s funny as I can distinctly remember getting my first comment and how happy I was… and slowly I started getting a few friends who would check in regularly. At the time I’d been devouring Rock n Roll Bride, looking at all the amazing photography, so I decided to pluck up the courage to send the wedding to Kat.
Kat blogged the wedding the end of Oct 2009 and I remember just staring at the page, looking at my photos among all those others I’d admired. It all then went a little bit nuts. I started to get enquiries from like-minded couples who wanted something different, couples who were stamping their own personality on their wedding. I had no idea about setting up a business, no idea about what photographers charge etc so I started out really cheap. I was learning with each wedding I shot and before I knew it I was booked up with about 30 weddings in my first year. The whole thing was pretty daunting and I remember getting a comment from Steve Gerrard on one of my pictures (the wedding photographer not the footballer!) so I emailed him, pretty much a ‘help!’ email and he invited me to his studio for a cuppa. We chatted and from then on he was a constant source of help and advice and I’ve learnt so much from him.
Once I started shooting more and more weddings, my confidence grew and because they were all alternative weddings a lot of the wedding blogs would get in touch to feature them. This meant that very quickly I was reaching a wide audience and without having to pay for any advertising I was getting more and more enquiries from couples that wanted something different. The down side to this was that I booked myself up for pretty much 18 months on a very low price, so financially, the business didn’t necessarily flourish as quickly as it should and also I was learning very publicly Anything I did was being watched and although I’d pretty much only just started I felt quite a bit of pressure.
Once I’d finished my first year I had picked up quite a bit of a following through Twitter, my blog and Facebook and this just seemed to keep growing. Pete & I (he joined the business full time this year) have just finished our second year and have shot another 40 weddings and managed to get married ourselves (some where in the middle of it!) and the support from the very beginning has been incredible.
What is Pete’s role in the business and how is it working with your husband? Do you ever want to kill each other living and working together?
We’ve been working together for nearly a year now and it’s great. Pete’s always been the kind of person that has been interested in what I’m doing so even before we both worked on the business he knew the in’s and out’s, knew all my friends etc. But now we get to share it all. He comes with me to all the weddings so he gets to know all the couples and we get to go on little road trips every weekend (he makes a mean bap for the journey) and then we get to be together all week.