PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF
Hey, I’m John, another blummin’ wedding photographer who lives just outside Ely with my wife, two utterly mad but adorable kids and a hamster called Murfuls (the kids named him, not me). If I am not taking pictures, I am looking after the kids, watching YT videos about hi-fi, listening to music and being a general all round geek. I am a big Aston Villa fan, I am starting to become more and more ashamed of my guilty pleasure for my love of cars and I was a former scientist for 19 years working in genetics. It’s been an interesting time so far, but I love my life and I ADORE my job.
WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO START YOUR BUSINESS?
Ha! A question that has been asked me many times due to the fact that I had a good career and worked for a world famous academic institution that worked on one of the biggest scientific endeavours of the 20th and 21st century, the Human Genome Project. The true answer is that….I think I was done. I loved science, it’s all I knew from school and college and I still DO love science (back to being that geek again). But after 19 years, I didn’t want to DO science anymore. I needed a change. And I had already been paid for a few jobs and people liked my work and I can’t tell you how much I like taking photos, so it was my one chance to make a living out of something I truly loved doing, so I took it back in 2015….and here I am! Best decision of my life.
HOW DOES YOUR TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE?
Well, recently, it’s been “interesting”. Covid has stopped me working almost completely and as my wife has been able to work full time from home, I have been home schooling my 9 and 7 year old all through the pandemic. But when we aren’t blighted by a virus, my day would be to get up, take the kids to school, come back and sit at the computer and do admin, marketing, social media posts….all the “downside” stuff of working for yourself and trying to promote yourself. The rest of the day would be filled with editing, replying to emails, couples, clients and then back to being Dad at the end of the school day. I try and pop a bit of exercise in there (I have a rowing machine…..works wonders) if not every day, every other day at least.
If it’s a wedding day, then prep everything the day before…clean cameras and lenses, charge batteries, format memory cards, make sure I have addresses, phone numbers, money, bags packed and so on. On the day, turn up for bridal prep no later than 2 hours before the ceremony and then let the day flow….blend in, be part of the action, capture all the fun, smiles, laughing, love and silly faces throughout the day.
WHAT IS THE BEST PART OF YOUR JOB?
Meeting people. Simple as that. I’m a sociable sort, so for me I love nothing better than meeting new people of all kinds. I love the diversity that humans have. I am curious, so I love finding out about people, their back stories, what makes them them. And when you are planning a wedding, getting to know someone is paramount as when you are with someone pretty much the whole day and apart from friends and family you will be the ONLY one who is there the whole day, I want to know my couples are comfortable with me and I know them well enough to know how to react and how they will react. It makes for much, much more realistic, natural photos and it means I can usually get shots that wouldn’t normally be seen. One of the things that lockdown has really highlighted to me is that I miss people. I used to think I was happy in my own space, but having the chance to go meet someone on a whim, to not be able to work and meet new people, that has been tough. So for me, absolutely the best part of my job is meeting new people, getting to know them and because of this, creating AWESOME photos for them because the couple are comfortable and happy with me around.
AND WHAT IS THE WORST PART?
Honestly, going to sound like a cliche, but there aren’t many bad points to my job. Marketing, admin, all the stuff that many don’t realise that goes on behind the scenes, the dealing with finances, bills, subscriptions, keeping on top of calendars….I was not built for that kind of thing. I didn’t realise I was a creative until quite late on….hence the 19 years of science career. Everything was evidence, black and white, yes or no. And then I figured out how to create a decent picture. And people liked it. I never knew I had a creative bone in my body. But now I do, I absolutely 100% embrace that. I ADORE this new side to me…….but the other stuff? My word…it can be a chore sometimes, but has to be done. I am not a marketing person. I really hope to try and sell myself on my personality and my photos and what I can give to couples. Not by coming up with new and exciting ways to show myself off haha! So anything that is not actually taking and editing images…..yeah, necessary evil…..
WHAT IS THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOUʼVE BEEN GIVEN?
OOh i’ve been given a loads. Here are a handful….
Be yourself. Don’t try and copy someone else’s business model, photographic style or personality. People will hire you. Be you.
Shoot, shoot and shoot some more. Keep shooting.
Have confidence in what you’re doing. You might put of a hell of a lot of people, but if you do, are they the people you wanted to work with anyway? Probably not. Stick to your guns.
Don’t change for the job. Your personality shines, so use that. (which I thought was really lovely actually….)
WHAT WOULD YOU WANT COUPLES TO KNOW ABOUT WHAT YOU DO?
Just a couple of things really. I know I sell myself as a “fun” photographer and yes, absolutely, this is true. But as much as I love the fun of the party, love the joy of the day, I try and blend in as one of the guests, I am 100% committed and professional from start to finish. What you get from me is light-hearted and irreverent and all that, but none of that gets in the way of me going all out to do the best job I can for my couples. I just don’t want to be the old, wizened, sour faced photographer who has been around the block and isn’t fun for anyone haha!
Also, I only have one price. One package. All I offer is in there. Unlimited hours. Pre-wedding shoot. All images and galleries. Simple, easy, no sales extras….if you want any of that, you can ask, we can talk. But straight up…..that’s it.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR COUPLES PLANNING A WEDDING?
Enjoy the process and don’t get too stressed. I have seen many couples get really overly engaged about small things that in the scheme of the day won’t make ANY difference to how things will be. Couples have a tendency to take some things and make them into much bigger a deal than they really are….and I absolutely get that. It’s a nerve wracking and potentially stressful time. But don’t stress the small stuff. Things almost always fall into place. And you know what? If something DOES go wrong, so what? You’re getting married. I have seen weddings with floods happen and they have been the best weddings ever because the couple realised they couldn’t do anything, so embraced it! Put on a pair of wellies and dances in the water haha! You know what it will be? Just a story from your wedding day in a few years time……just enjoy it. Take it in. Let whatever is going to happen happen. Let others deal with the hassle. Just enjoy it. Enjoy each other and celebrate the day and what is happening. THAT is the important thing.
WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU DIDNʼT WORK IN THE WEDDING INDUSTRY?
Honestly, because I worked in science for so long, I have no idea. Part of me wonders if I would still be in science in some other capacity….I liked PR and talking to people and communicating with them, so maybe some kind of scientific communications. But then also I would have loved to have been involved in motor racing or sport in some way. Sports photography maybe? I’ve never really given it any other thought as I studied and worked to get into sciences and got there and stayed a long time. Then accidentally fell into the job of my dreams and I have been super, super lucky in that respect. So…..dunno…..i’ll say what my kids say….Zookeeper, Astronaut (daughter) and Zookeeper, Writer (Daughter). Apparently they are going to both be zookeepers, buy a house together and live together and make millions so they can both have a Lamborghini. I mean, they have ambitions and I am not going to hold them back…..
WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO IN YOUR TIME OFF?
Time off? Ha! Err……what’s that?
Well, when I can, see my friends. If not that, would be listening to music. I am a bit of a hi-fi geek and have been all my life really because of my late Dad’s passion for it. I inherited a lot of passions from him….mechanics, hifi, anything with a technical bent to it really. So I love music, cameras, electronic gear. My happy place is sitting down with a good record, rocking out (I mostly like rock, indie, guitar based stuff as well as some old school dance and ambient etc) or trying to fix something, even if I don’t know how haha! And when the kids are in bed….geek time again….I love watching documentaries, usually science based ones. I really am not painting a good picture of myself, am I? haha!
I am not a “lie on the beach” kind of person. I am a destination and adventure person. So I have a few.
I really want to visit Japan. I have a background, to a relatively high level, in martial arts and Japan has been a place that has fascinated me since I was a surprisingly small child. I always found the juxtaposition of the modern and the old in that country so utterly opposed and so far apart completely enthralling. One day I will get there.
Iceland. I just want to stand in a valley or on a mountain and take it all in. A place with such incredible landscapes and I am a sucker for a landscape (can’t take pictures of them though weirdly….I have tried. I’m just not good at it. Now, give me a photo with people in it….)
New Zealand. For similar reasons to Iceland if I am honest. I have been to Australia and that place blew me away, but NZ has always called to me.
Lastly, Scotland is like a second home to me. I would argue with anyone to tell me there is not a more beautiful country….
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN 10 YEARS?
It’s a question I ask myself all the time. Will I still be doing this? I would hope so, but I realise as I get older, not sure younger couples want an old codger turning up for their wedding haha! But, if I can still be young at heart, if I can still make people laugh, if I can move with the times, styles and continue to evolve and improve, then I would LOVE to still be doing what I am doing now, I really would. I love it that much.
But only if my back will allow me……. ;-)