This week we feature the owner of FitzGerald Photographic, Clare FitzGerald, a wedding photographer based in Hailsham, East Sussex.
How long have you been photographing weddings for and how did you get into it?
I’ve been photographing weddings for 5 years. Initially I studied a Bachelor of Fine-Art degree, majoring in Photography at Rhodes University, in South Africa. Following this I came to London with the aim of finding work within the world of photography; easier said than done! I worked for several years as in a creative role as a Project Manager, installing themed sets within visitor attractions in London. Whilst doing so I also photographed corporate and private events in my free time.
My first wedding arose from friends of mine asking if I would be interested in shooting their day. I was over the moon that they liked my work, if not a little nervous but at the same time really pleased that they had the confidence to ask me to do so, so I did! Two years later, after a number of wedding bookings through recommendations and shooting them alongside my full time PM role; I decided to take the plunge! I’ve now been photographing weddings full time for 3 years throughout Sussex, Surrey, Kent & London. I love that I’ve been able to return to what I initially set out to do when I left University, taking photos!
What do you particularly like about photographing weddings?
The fact that I’m invited to be part of two peoples most intimate & emotional moments of their life! I get to experience close up the nerves of the bridal preparations, the anticipation of the Groom as he waits for his Bride, the excitement of when they see each other for the first time and everyone’s overall happiness of the day! I’m a sucker for romance!
How would you describe your style and approach?
Style, that’s a tricky one! I love detail, natural candid shots, with colour & soft light. The detail & colour influence comes from one of my lecturers at University, Obie Oberholzer, he was fanatical. A very quirky & unique character, make sure you check him & his work out!
I also like to inject a sense of calm and fun to what I do, so that couples and guests feel relaxed with me being part of their day. I suppose I’m all about being relaxed, creative, discreet with a touch of fun!
What advice would you give to couples looking for a wedding photographer?
Firstly look for a photographer’s style that you love and reflects you as a couple. Although they may take lovely photos, they may not be the right person behind the lens to spend the day with you closely. You should be able to tell a little bit about the person from their website but it’s always advisable to meet or chat with a photographer first. It’s not always possible to meet due to location. I’ve had clients book me who have not met me in person due to living in Shanghai & New Zealand; so a relaxed conversation over the phone or Skype will help you decide. You will know within the first 5 minutes if that photographer is the one for you!
Ultimately the quality and style of photos are primary but the photographer’s character & personality has to be considered. You need to feel comfortable and relaxed with them being around you; always a bonus if they can make you smile and laugh as well! Make sure you don’t compromise on your choice of photographer; love the style & like the person taking your photos. You will probably never like the price, no one really likes spending money but be safe in the knowledge that what you receive in return is not just for one day; those photos will be there for you and others to enjoy forever!
Once you’ve decided who you want to photograph your day, get in touch with them sooner rather later, see if they are still available and book them! There is only one of them and can often get booked anything from 6 – 18 months in advance.
What tips would you share with couples to help their day go more smoothly?
It’s only natural to be nervous but relax, have fun and don’t sweat the small things that others don’t know about! Remember when you smile, it’s infectious and your guests will smile with you!
When I photograph couples on their own I like them to spend some time on their own first, whilst I shoot from a distance. It’s an ideal opportunity for them to relax and take in the occasion of… we’ve just got married! In doing so I’m able to capture some of the most natural and beautiful shots.
Also, at some point later in the day make sure you both take a moment away from everything that is going on and soak up the occasion together. Preferably somewhere you can still observe or hear what’s going on, it’s a busy day so taking 5 minutes out will bring home the reality of the occasion!
Finally… Whats the best moment you’ve had as a wedding photographer?
Ultimately it has to be the lovely feedback from my couples once they’ve received their photos; its then I know why I choose to photograph weddings and why I love what I do!
Thanks to Clare for chatting with us, you can find her contact details below or find out more on her profile page here.