More than photos

I made this post last week. Afterwards it got me thinking and I felt it deserved a bit more detail.

lee hawley photography chelternham gloucestershire wedding photographer

I ended up doing wedding photography very simply because I love taking photos. After ages and ages of my wife saying “you should do this properly” and me saying “I’m not good enough”, the draw of doing what I love for other people was too much so I started down this road, and I have not regretted it one bit. The thrill of capturing once in lifetime moments and creating beautiful imagery is every bit as exciting as I had hoped, however I didn’t expect this to be only half of what is great about this job. The other 50% is the people.

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In what may seem as a stark contrast to photography, I have over 17 years experience in the construction industry. Working as an electrician, project manager and estates manager, all of which are in hardnosed environments. You have your guard up at all times and everyone is deep down looking out for how to maximise a given situation for their own gain, or to cover their arse! That side of things never sat well with me, I could never be comfortable with an actions to benefit yourself professionally knowing full well it would cause untold amounts on personal stress to someone else.

In photography however the opposite is true. A photo is more than just a picture. It’s an expression of creativity by the photographer. It is their interpretation of a moment, and you can only do this well if you have empathy for that moment, and most importantly in order to do that you cannot have a guard up at all.

I learnt this early on, but do remember how I thought before I let that guard go. It would make me take a standard safe photo rather than trying something different or creative for fear others would ridicule it, whereas a regular safe photo wouldn’t get noticed at all, thus avoiding judgment.

This brings me onto the people I work for.

The first contact with a prospective “client” will usually be either at a wedding fayre or when I meet them after they’ve found me online or through a friends recommendation. The temptation can be to go into full sales-mode and blurt out all the things you want them to know about you! But that’s never been something I have found that easy, preferring to basically have a chat and get to know them. It’s not really a “technique” it is me doing what I feel most comfortable doing, and free of the dog eat dog world of construction I can afford to just be me. Honest, open and passionately talking about what I do.

It’s been a revelation to me. In all my years in construction I made two proper friend. After each wedding as a photographer I feel like I have made at least two more.

It’s a point I would recommend any couple to fully consider. Unlike the flowers, cake or dress maker, it is not just the quality of their finished product that matters, as the photographer will be around all day so their impact is much greater. If you cannot relax around them, or trust their judgment they will never get the best images of you, but more importantly you won’t enjoy your day as much.

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The downside to this is that after every meeting with a new couple, I am hooked all over again and hope they book with me so I can tell their wedding day story. It is inevitable that some people go elsewhere, and although I have been very fortunate so far in that percentage being very low, you have to develop the art of growing a thick skin, but not so thick you can’t put yourself out there with guard down the next time!

Posted by Lee Hawley

1 comment

Great words!
I love it that with your unique photographic skills, you have found something so fulfilling and rewarding that has truly enriched your life.
Love mum x