In our behind the lens interview series we chat with wedding photographer Fiona Clair today.
How long have you been photographing weddings for and how did you get into it?
I shot my first wedding on an incredibly hot and beautiful day in Kwazulu Natal, South Africa, in January, 4 years ago. I was by no means a wedding photographer at this time, but a very good friend asked me if I would capture some moments from her day for her. As they say…….the rest really is history. Requests picked up, and before I knew it I was shooting weddings all over SA and worldwide, really without over thinking the process or pushing too hard. I was and have been incredibly lucky with support from incredible bridal couples that understood my style and allowed me to progress quite quickly with virtually no understanding of the wedding industry and how to even approach a wedding! I never studied photography and I think I only ever assisted another photographer once – I learnt on the job from day one!
What do you particularly like about photographing weddings?
I like the freedom it allows with regards to artistic creavity. Every single wedding is different so each work day is new and fresh, albeit challenging! I have been incredibly lucky to shoot once in a life time moments, for wonderful people, in fantastic locations around the world. If you work with bridal couples who really appreciate your style, and let you get on with the job, it quite simply does not feel like work. I am always excited to get back to my computer the following week after the wedding and get cracking on editing and retelling their story as best I can.
What is your favourite part of the day?
I love taking bridal portraits. I think this is the one part of the day that you can pose your subject and really work with someone at their most beautiful, and most happy. It’s sometimes difficult posing a couple in a non traditional way, but with the brides alone, they always rise to the occasion and we have so much fun creating lovely images without feeling too cliché.
How would you describe your style and approach?
My style is fairly creative, relaxed and documentary. I am in the wedding from start to finish and document whatever and whenever I can, always trying to utilize the best lighting opportunities. I would say my images have become slightly moodier as time has gone on, but I’m always slightly over exposed to give that romantic, lighter feel to the day.
Who, or what inspires you?
I’m inspired by a number of international photographers of course, but ultimately on the day you shoot with your eye and within your capabilities. It’s importrant to focus on the day at hand, rather than trying to recreate what others have achieved at a different wedding, in a different location with a different couple. I’ve also been incredibly inspired by the the support I have had worldwide, booking weddings with such fantastic couples that have placed their wedding day in my hands.
What advice would you give to couples looking for a wedding photographer?
Choosing your wedding photographer these days is almost impossible! There are just so many talented photographers out there. I would recommend seeing a full album from your preffered photographer. Don’t forget that blog posts showcase their best work, but it’s a real skill to document a wedding day flawlessly from start to finish. It is an incredibly hard job and few do it perfectly from start to finish. Really think about what style you want. If you want artistic, you might not get the family photos that the parents will want in years to come. What is the most important part of the day for you? A lot of photographers like to focus on lengthy couple shoots, would you be happy to pose for over an hour for these pictures? How many photos do you want from your day? You need to respect what the photographer offers and understand what you are getting from the day. Ask all the questions upfront and understand all the extra costs.
What tips would you share with couples to help their day go more smoothly?
Do not worry about the small things! This day is only about you and your happiness and your commitement to each other. Don’t obsess over your photographer, let them do their job. If rain is forecast, with go with it! Some of my best weddings have been in the pouring rain as the brides have just had to let everything go as nothing can go as planned any more!
If there was one place in the world you would love to capture a wedding where would it be and why?
Tuscany. I’m slightly obsessed with that light and that secenery! It’s just too beautiful and romantic for words…only pictures. I would also love to shoot in New York. I had some amazing destination weddings booked this year but due to a surprise arrival of our first little baby, I wasn’t able to make them. I’m hoping to pick up travel weddings again towards the end of next year so watch this space!
Finally… Whats the best moment you’ve had as a wedding photographer?
Gosh this is impossible to asnwer. I have had so many. Shooting two weddings at Villa D’este , Lake Como was a dream, and venturing to America for the first time to shoot at Denver, Colarado was an incredible experience. Mexico, Majorca, the Uk and of course, some of my very first weddings in Durban, South Africa were very special. Infact living and working in Cape Town, South africa – it doesn’t get better than that!