Professional Wedding Photographers
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Before I was a professional wedding photographer, I was what you’d call a ‘bedroom’ photographer. I say this in the way that you have ‘bedroom’ DJs, real people who have a real passion for something other than their 9-5. After a string of jobs just not challenging or creative enough, I decided, like so many, that I could do better.
After returning to Stamford College at 19 to start a BTEC National Diploma in Photography, I left two years later with three Distinctions. Very impressed with myself, I booked my first wedding, at 21. Luckily, this was for a very good friend, so the pressure was off a little. After many a nervous sleep, the wedding day came and I was hooked on. I knew that I wanted to be a professional wedding photographer.
It soon became apparent that the paper qualifications alone simply were not enough and could in no way compare to ‘real life training’.
Without the knowledge that you gain over time, with regards to software, lenses, flash, presentation, (and many many others) I was a clean sheet. Dedicated to learn EVERYTHING I could, in my own way. I had to be individual.
The steep learning curve continued, not just on the photography side, but the business side too. What a minefield! No one prepares you for that. A sole trader was set up with a bank account and a simple website, and off I went.
Three years followed, continuing as a bedroom photographer, getting steadily busier by the year, shooting weddings and editing in my room, until one day something occurred to me, as these things do, but led by others in a sort of way.
Boy met girl. As my Dad has always said, Behind a good guy is a GREAT woman, and I had found mine, Laura.
Unfortunately, in the same year, my Grandma passed away. After this recent bereavement, it was decided that life simply is too short. It was time to put those studio plans together.
After searching and searching, a small space just off a busier shopping street was found. It was perfect. Just what was needed. The learning curve turned into a vertical line soon after. Rent, business rates, landlords that are idiots, gas, electricity, signage…. You start to wonder why you wanted to do it in the first place sometimes. Focus was needed.
Two years passed in the Studio on Deans Street, working on my own mostly, photographing everything and anything. Laura would pop in from time to time on her way to and from Uni to help with emails and invoicing. In the Third year, we expanded to another premises so we had a larger custom built space for photographing families, still keeping our first space in Deans Street. The learning curve of Deans Street and it’s ‘problems’ helped this move go without a hitch. It is true what they say, experience does pay off.
With two premises at the age of 26, things were busy. When Laura finished her degree in dance (or something like that) she decided that enough was enough on the education front and that she was ready for a change. Luckily, I had an opening…..
With business busy, I wanted to concentrate solely on wedding photography, new techniques and ways to be individual, in as many ways as possible. Photoshop and post production were now available.
Laura filled the roll perfectly. Again, a clean sheet to start with, no bad habits, I taught her everything I knew. Splitting the business really helped for the progression and growth moving forward. Laura was now dedicated to Photoshop. I am sad to say that she now runs rings round me! The business soon became an equal partnership.
In 2010, Deans Street was on the move again. Unfortunately, due to new neighbours, we were unable to trade peacefully from our studio. We found the best location to date, The Maltings. A small courtyard of shops, complete with quirky features… Perfect.
Still completely self-taught, we continued to grow, being busier year on year. The inevitable VAT threshold was reached and more cans of worms were opened. We had now been photographing many weddings each year along with many family shoots. We soon added more time and dedication to our already comprehensive customer service strategy, adding fancy teas and coffees, an even better viewing area, better products and many more little touches that we keep refining as time moves forward.
In 2011 we happily joined the Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers, wanting to continue to learn and evolve with new found help. Soon after, I gained a licentiateship which opened my eyes even further and we have since been accepted to speak at their national convention.
We are still friends with our first ever bride and groom!
We needed to separate ourselves from our competition, something more visual, not just in the customer experience. We needed an assistant for weddings. A suitable candidate was found and we continued forward using newly learnt off camera flash techniques. We now stood out again from our competition and were not swamped by others. A year later, it was decided that we should change our strategy to include Laura at each and every wedding, to add the personal touch back. As all of our couples were meeting us both before the wedding, it seemed only logical to continue with this.
I had really become a professional wedding photographer
It wasn’t until 2013 till I felt like I had really become a professional wedding photographer and an expert in my field. Over the next 2 years, we were nominated for Wedding Photographer of the Year by our customers and for Local Business of the Year also. It was partly on this decision that led us away from our 2nd studio at the end of 2013, and to the decision to concentrate on weddings and Lifestyle photography ever since. Being a specialist is the way forward for us now.
Our dedication and refining continues to grow, with our new look logo and colour scheme finished in February 2014. It was decided that an up to date look was what was needed. This has led into a new design for our shop front, not to mention all promotional material and website. We now open for longer and employ a part time assistant also. We have now progressed into a limited company – 10 years ago, we would have never of dreamed of this!
It was ‘just’ a hobby, a fantastic hobby, just for the fun. It still is for the fun, and that is why we still love what we do.
Our way forward as a professional wedding photography studio is simple and clean, no clutter.
Thanks for reading!
Andy and Laura
Proudly Deans Street Photography.