Last month whilst at an interview & book-signing with Ella Wodward I got chatting to fine art wedding photographer Amanda. Waiting for the interview to start, both Amanda and I were engrossed in an in-depth conversation about blogging and how we both fuel our passions within the creative world. Realising we both use Canon cameras to shoot with, this sparked an I must interview Amanda for my blog moment. As a wedding photographer who also has day job within a non-creative industry like so many of us out there, I wanted to find out more about the life of this creative talent.
So tell me a little bit about yourself?
Well, I’m one-half of Amanda Karen Photography, my husband James is the other half. We live in Essex and during the week I work in London, in the City. Outside of that I am a huge foodie lover and enjoy going out for dinner and cocktails with the girls. At weekends if I’m not taking photographs then I’m quite often chilling with James or starting to do up our new house.
Where & what did you study at university?
I studied Psychology for my undergrad and then went on to do an MSc in Disaster Management, both of them at Coventry University. I had such a great time and made real lifelong friends, and I still use both subjects today in my day job as a risk consultant.
What drew you to fine art wedding photography in particular?
Whilst I’ve not always had a camera, when I got my first proper job after Uni I bought my first DSLR and loved it, then after we got married I was drawn even more to weddings, I never thought I could combine these two loves but I had some great opportunities. I love the beauty and emotion of weddings and my style is to capture not only the moments but the beauty in the details, really telling the story of a couple’s relationship and their big day.
How did you break into the industry?
I started by assisting some really talented photographers and it’s because of them my passion and skill grew. Last year I joined the Female Creatives Association and that has really focussed where my passion is and has helped me identify my brand and how to strive towards that, it’s also a great support network of truly amazing women who are incredibly inspirational!
Your photography is stunning – What camera, lens and kit do you use whilst on location?
Aww thank you! I am a Canon girl, I shoot with a Canon 5Dmk2 and for weddings tend to lean towards the 24-70mm f2.8L and the 70-200mm f2.8L lenses, although for ring shots and details I’ll sometimes use a macro lens. When I’m out and about and for lifestyle shoots I favour the 50mm and 85mm prime lenses. James has a similar setup and we have backup kit too, just to be safe!
How did you get your first break?
My first break would have been approaching wedding photographer whose work I admired and asked for assisting experience, it was important to me to learn how to photograph weddings fully before marketing myself as this is one of the most important days in a couple’s life, it’s not a time to jump in at the deep end and try out shooting weddings. From there I built a portfolio and worked on my branding so that I could launch the business.
How do you balance your day job with your passion for fine art photography?
I’m not gonna lie, it’s a lot of work, the day job is quite demanding so it was important to identify times that I could work on the business, not just the shooting, editing and admin, but also to continue learning, I think it’s important to continue to develop as a photographer. So I get up earlier each morning to work, I set aside lunch breaks to develop content, utilise my commuting time to respond to social media and listen to training modules and then I have two evenings a week focussed on the business. I don’t work every evening because spending time with my husband and friends is equally as important to me. I schedule content ahead of time and work to a blogging timeline so that my marketing activity is planned and thought out.
Describe a typical day at a wedding or at a shoot?
Ooh I’m not sure there is a typical shoot, as more and more people are having weddings that suit them rather than following a “tradition”. However, I always start with the bride getting ready and James is with the groom, that way we can tell the story from both sides. It then moves on to the ceremony, although more and more people are opting for a first look, which I would love to shoot. One of my favourite moments in a wedding is the first time the groom sees the bride, the nervous excitement that leads up to that moment and then the look of true love and emotion when they see each other, I’m a hopeless romantic and this moment gets me every time! After that it’s the reception and the celebrations kick off, we make sure we schedule some time in for group shots and importantly, the couple portraits. I love to create images of the couple that they will display in their home, to remind them of this day. We usually finish just after the first dance, just long enough to get some dance shots before letting the party continue into the night. All-in-all it’s a really long day, and once we’re home the images are backed up before we hit the hay!
If your studio space went up in flames, which three items would you save?
It would have to be my day planner which has my life in, my camera which is my baby and then my external hard drive which has all my files on, even though they’re cloud based too!
What’s next for you in 2016?
2016 holds our first destination wedding which I’m really excited at, it also holds lots of beautiful weddings, some exciting collaboration shoots and with any luck a kitchen makeover in our new house!
What advice would you give yourself if you were starting from scratch?
I think it would have to be to have more belief that the hard work will pay off and to build a network of support in the industry earlier, the ladies I have come across through the FCA Shining Lights programme and other business groups such as Chosen Wedding, have been solid as a rock and are true friends.