8 years of making love visible

Posted by Orms CTSP
29 August 2018 | For the love of photography
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Photographing weddings is really hard work and there are a lot of photographers out there. If you are simply trying to copy what other photographers are doing you will lose the love for what you are doing and you will burn out. The only way to build a brand and career that will last within the wedding industry is to find your unique voice and pursue the style that you love.

We’re getting ready for an incredible, jam-packed one-day Wedding Photography Workshop with Love Made Visible, i.e. Rebecca and Bruce, on Saturday 8 September. We caught up with them to chat about their thoughts surrounding the industry, advice they could share with emerging wedding photographers, and just a bit more behind the people that will soon be offering the Wedding Photography Workshop with us.

Rita Pienaar

First off, tell us about Love Made Visible – why did you decide to start LMV, and how did you go about it?

LOVE MADE VISIBLE

Our business started quite organically, we had both been dabbling in photography but were working full time doing other things (Rebecca as account manager at a graphic design studio, and Bruce as a web designer). In 2009, one of Rebecca’s colleagues was planning her wedding (a very intimate event with only immediate family present) and Rebecca offered to photograph it for her. Rebecca loved the experience and after photographing a couple more weddings for friends, Bruce joined as a second photographer. Through word of mouth the business grew and after a while, it became our full-time job. The business has grown from strength to strength and while we didn’t expect to come this far, we are so happy it turned out this way. We’ve been doing this full time for 8 years and have photographed hundreds of weddings and we still love this work and are so grateful for the experiences we’ve had.

RP

Has Wedding Photography always been something you wanted to do? What enticed you to be part of this industry? 

LMV

Rebecca always loved the idea of photographing weddings, but it took Bruce some time to get on board with the idea. Initially we thought that wedding photography was all about ‘pretty’ pictures of decor and dresses and posed (or cheesy) romantic shots, but as soon as we started photographing them we found that we were most excited about our shots when they were unposed and unscripted – this led us to pursue a more documentary style. Weddings are so full of emotion and genuine human connection, and capturing this honestly is what appeals most to us.

RP

Some would say that the wedding photography industry is saturated, do you agree? If so, how do you think it can be remedied, if at all?

LMV

There is certainly an abundance of wedding photographers out there, and there is no sign of this changing. We feel that if you can offer something unique to your clients, and if you focus on honing your craft and doing the best job possible for your couples (rather than comparing yourself to other photographers), work will continue to come your way. Once you have found your own photographic voice / style, work hard at getting better and better at what you do, and make your client’s experience special from the very first email. If you do these things you are bound to have more work referred to you. Also focus on building relationships with other photographers and service providers within the wedding industry – if you focus on community and good working relationships with others, you will not need to worry about competition.

RP

Your aesthetic is very specific and distinctive. Has this aesthetic always been a natural extension of your style / ideals? 

LMV

Thank you! We think that every photographer has a style and aesthetic unique to them and if you take the time to find what your style & ideals are, your aesthetic will follow. It’s not something you can force, and you need to give it time to develop, but once you find it you will know.

RP

Do you think there’s a movement toward more documentary-style wedding photography in terms of client demand? If so, why do you think that is?

LMV

Yes definitely, we think that people are realizing that wedding photos need to stand the test of time and that a documentary style lends itself best to longevity. People are drawn to authenticity and they also want focus on time spent with their guests, rather than disappearing for two hours to do an elaborate posed shoot. We truly feel that the wedding is not being held in order to give us photo opportunities – the couple isn’t ‘props’ in a styled shoot, and as wedding photographers, our photos need to respond to the organic nature of the real-life event that a wedding is. People respond favorably to this ethos and we’ve definitely seen an increase in interest in documentary-style wedding photography.

RP

Why do you feel fulfilling a niche that is true to you is crucial to defining a brand within the wedding industry?

LMV

Photographing weddings is really hard work and there are a lot of photographers out there. If you are simply trying to copy what other photographers are doing you will lose the love for what you are doing and you will burn out. The only way to build a brand and career that will last within the wedding industry is to find your unique voice and pursue the style that you love.

RP

Tell us about some of your personal absolute best parts of being a wedding photographer?

LMV

For us, it is an amazing privilege to spend so much time with a couple on one of the most significant days of their lives. Having front row seats to all the emotion and celebration is such a joy. We get to see humans at their best.

RP

And your worst… 

LMV

The worst part of being a wedding photographer is occasionally seeing people lose sight of what is truly important on the wedding day. Every now and again couples (particularly brides) get distracted by the details (decor, dresses, cake, timelines) and forget what the day is actually about. Sometimes there are also difficult family dynamics to navigate, which is a challenge. It’s also really difficult having to sometimes miss the weddings and birthdays of close friends and family because we’ve been booked for another wedding long in advance.

RP

What advice can you give to budding and aspiring wedding photographers?

LMV

Our advice is to stop looking at the work of other wedding photographers and trying to copy it. Rather identify what it is that you love about a certain style and then explore that in your own way. Shoot real-life events (friends’ birthday parties, family gatherings etc) as often as possible and get to know your camera back to front.

RP

Let’s talk GEAR. What can’t you live without on shoot-day?

LMV

We shoot with Sony mirrorless cameras (their compact size suits our style and approach) and our go-to lenses are our 35mm, 55mm, and 85mm. We can happily shoot an entire wedding day using these three lenses.

RP

Marketing. There are countless wedding photography groups on Facebook, forums online, Instagram accounts etc. Some argue that this has contributed to oversaturation, others accept it as a helping hand.

How do you feel a modern-day wedding photographer can overcome the challenge of an oversaturated market through marketing?

LMV

We feel that by far the best marketing tool is word-of-mouth/referral. If you give your clients a great experience and deliver quality work, they will share their images with others and more work will come your way. A lot of our referrals come from other photographers – we have a wonderful community of friends within the industry and feel this is also essential to a sustainable business.

RP

What marketing channel/platform is your most successful in terms of actual conversions? (Word of mouth, Instagram, Facebook, a database of email addresses etc.)

LMV

Word of mouth is our most successful, followed by Instagram.

RP

Burnout. A real threat to doing your own thing is burnout. As photographers, we often overlook the challenge of being an entrepreneur: it’s a different type of stress from being an employee. As entrepreneurs, what do you do to stay refreshed, focused, and determined?

LMV

We make sure that we leave at least one weekend free of bookings every month (you have to be intentional about this, and saying no to a booking is difficult, but we think it’s what has prevented burn out). Delegate what you can and try and make time for personal creative projects (even if these aren’t photography projects).

RP

The future. What is your ideal for LMV?

LMV

We love the path we are on, and would love to continue photographing weddings, as well as other life events like births, anniversaries and just normal family life.

RP

We’re very excited to welcome you here at the school to teach a Wedding Photography Workshop. What do you hope your students will walk away with upon completion?

LMV

We hope that we will be able to give students the tools they need in order to identify the style and approach that suits them best. This will help them to forge a long-lasting career, rather than something that fizzles out because they were just trying to copy someone else.

We also hope to impart some good practical advice in terms of the nuts and bolts of photographing weddings. There is a lot we have learned over the last nine years, and we hope to share as much of this as possible.

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