Interview: Shelley Hughes
In our first wedding photographer interview of 2015 we catch up with Shelley Richmond of Diamonds & Doodles, a sheffield based wedding photographer who covers the UK and travels abroad for destination weddings.
How long have you been photographing weddings for and how did you get into it?
I honestly fell into it, I studied a Fine Art BA & MA at University in Lancaster and one of the modules was photography, I learned the basics on an Olympus film SLR, though at the time I was predominantly a painter. Photography was never more than a hobby for a lot of years. I was working in arts education in Sheffield and I saw one of my colleagues wedding photographs a few years ago and I was totally blown away, they were so beautiful and honest and natural, nothing like what I though wedding photography was like. Truth is I didn’t really like weddings (GASP!) I thought they were pretty dull and formulaic; basically all the same… After seeing those images I started doing a little research (read internet stalking) and found a whole world of beautiful imagery that was stylistically similar to what I loved to shoot; the beautiful everyday.
I also saw a potential way to make a living through my creativity (it is very hard to make a living as a painter!) So I set myself up in 2012, bought some kit, built a site and managed to convince some friends to let me shoot their weddings. It all went rather well, though my first paid wedding was truly terrifying, and finally, 2 months ago, I quit my job to do this full time
What do you particularly like about photographing weddings?
The people; I’ve made so many new friends through this work, you see people at their very best and often most vulnerable and emotional, spending just 1 day with a couple in such intense proximity can make it feel like you’ve known them for years. Sharing those moments with them and their friends and families is so awesome I honestly struggle to put it into words. In what other job do you get to hang out with insanely happy loved up party people all day and get paid for it? I can certainly say that my opinion of weddings has change drastically, I can’t get enough of them!
How would you describe your style and approach?
Some other photographers might find this a little controversial but I want to keep affordability at the heart of my business. I believe that everyone should be able to have beautiful images of their wedding no matter what budget their on. That’s my ethos. My style comes from my Fine Art background and I’d say I’m a creative documentary type but I also love working with couples on portraits. I’m very relaxed about my work and try to slot into a wedding without disrupting the day, last year I was dubbed photo ninja by one of my brides
What advice would you give to couples looking for a wedding photographer?
Don’t go for the most expensive because you think that means they’re the best, and don’t go for the cheapest because they’re… well.. the cheapest, choose the work you like, meet up if you can or Skype and make sure you get on. You want your photographer to be someone you’d be happy going for a pint with! Don’t just stick with the local pool we photographers love to travel, I have my own camper van so I can stay anywhere I fancy! Also when you’re looking through their work (especially if you’re having a winter or low light wedding) make sure you ask to see something similar to make sure they’re cool with the sort of event you’re planning
What tips would you share with couples to help their day go more smoothly?
When you’re planning your wedding day plan in along side it a bit of time for photographs, figure out when the golden hour is and make sure it’s not the same time as you’re first dance as sunset portraits are awesome and getting you off the dance floor once the booze is flowing can be hard!
Ask your guests not to use flash photography during your ceremony, I recently shot a wedding where it was a free for all flash frenzy and I felt like I was going to have seizure up there! You might think the more photos the better but those crazy flashes can easily ruin the pro shots that you’ve paid for. We photographers can deal with it the rest of the day but during the ceremony when time is tight and it’s all happening right there and then… those moments are so important.
Since becoming a wedding photographer I’ve also started a blog www.prettythrifty.co.uk full of advice and money saving tips for couples planning their wedding this post in particular is full of tips for making the most of your photographer on the day
Finally… Whats the best moment you’ve had as a wedding photographer?
One of my favourite moments from this past year was shooting Ollie & Kitties wedding on a private estate in Surrey that had a treehouse that was pretty much as big as my actual house! We climbed up into the trees and along the rope bridges and they pulled out a pair of Ukeleles! Totally random, but they were heading off ‘Ukeing’ around the world for a year as their honeymoon. I love the kind of couples that book me.
Many thanks for Shelley for taking time our to chat to us, you can view more of her work and get in touch via her page here.