For quite a while now I have wanted to devote more of my time to photographing weddings and this six month summer internship with Joanna Brown Photography was the most valuable thing I think I’ve done.
As I am sure all wedding photographers out there will agree, once you start doing this you most definitely get bitten by the wedding bug and it was certainly no different for me. I love weddings! Committing to this however, on a regular basis with two young children at home and a husband working in London most days of the week, proved next to impossible until both girls were at school full time. Joanna’s advert for an Intern to assist as a second shooter over her busy summer season and to help out with the administration that goes on in the office behind the scenes (and in-between weddings) came along at the perfect moment – my enthusiasm was high, but my confidence and direction needed some fine tuning! I have been following Joanna’s work for quite some time and have long admired her alternative take on wedding photography (as well as everything else!) so it was with a mix of excitement and ‘now or never nerves’ that I bit the bullet and applied.
Joanna lives off the beaten track in rural Sussex so my intention to make a good first impression by arriving early for my interview went well and truly out of the window! Arriving late and then accidently parking up on her neighbour’s driveway left me thinking that I’d already scuppered my chances before we’d even talked but she immediately put me at my ease. We chatted happily about all matters photography related over tea and biscuits, I got to meet Percy the cat and the time whizzed by. When Joanna called the next morning to offer me the post I was hugely surprised then very excited and raring to go!
One of the first things I realised when I started working with Joanna was the importance of having a well organised system to cope with the inevitable paperwork that quickly builds up and the emails that come through. My ‘filing’ system I am ashamed to admit up to this point, had consisted of an-over flowing cupboard of paperwork and photography related paraphernalia, and a bulging inbox dating back at least two years. Joanna has a simple and effective way of categorising everything in the relevant paper or electronic folder or box and all expenses are recorded in an excel spreadsheet. Being so organised allowed us time to refine some of the lengthier administrative tasks. Amongst other things, an easy to follow checklist for brides that outlined all of the important things Joanna would need to know on the big day and so limit the volume of emails back and forth, proved very useful.
And so on to the blog. I had already set up a Facebook Page and a website but not thought to set up a photography blog. I immediately saw the benefits of using a blog to keep work right up to date and how useful a tool this can be for potential clients. It is always great to look through a photographer’s portfolio of best bits on his or her website but it is even better to have access to the complete wedding story in words and pictures. Given her busy schedule, keeping on top of the blog was high on the list of priorities and the one thing that caused us the most headaches! Putting together a blog post – no way around it – takes time! Over the summer months we racked our brains and tried out all kinds of different ways to speed this job up from using Blogstomp to WordPress plugins to Lightroom quick collections. I’m not sure if any of these tweaks worked particularly well but I hope in combination they have made blogging big weddings a little bit easier!
Presentation is of course everything and with near on thirty weddings to sign seal and deliver between May and September there were a lot of discs to get out in the post! It really does make a huge difference to send the final product out nicely wrapped and properly branded. With a card. And a gift!
As well as assisting Joanna in the office I also second shot with her at weddings, some local, some further afield. I really can’t stress enough how invaluable this was. It is one thing shooting a wedding but quite another shooting an entire season of back to back weddings! Stamina is essential here! The great thing about second shooting photographically is that you have the luxury of time that you don’t have as the primary shooter to seek out the finer details and goings on during the day. To look at the events unfolding from a different viewpoint. This pushes you to think much more creatively about your shots. It allows you to develop and enhance your skills without any attendant pressure, whilst at the same time putting you in the privileged position of recording one of the most important days in a couple’s life, a position that should be treated with the sensitivity and care it justly deserves.
As a second shooter it is also imperative that you aware of what the primary shooter needs in terms of support from you during the course of the day.Working with Joanna over a six month period meant that after not too long we were able to develop a good rapport and routine on the day and checked in with one another every half hour or so. In addition to supporting her photographically I also understood the importance of making sure that the little things were taken care of – a bottle of water or cold drink to hand, the schedule easily accessible, the camera bag available and at the ready as we moved between locations, a chair in position to stand on if needed, equipment packed up and put back in the car at the end of a long day.
Of course the Internship would not have been as enjoyable as it was if it hadn’t been for the time and patience that Joanna devoted to it. I will take away from this more than I think Joanna could possibly know. The benefit of her wisdom and experience will stand me in good stead for many, many years to come. Joanna gives freely of her knowledge and is a remarkable and unique teacher, someone who I not only respect as a colleague but also as a friend. We shared many great moments over the long summer months. Particular highlights include the fantastic weddings that we attended together and the great couples and their guests that we got to meet, the Pub du Vin dinner (with dessert!) the unsuspecting guest who got more than he bargained for when I took him for a whirl around the dance floor at Duncton! The chats we shared over lunch about all manner of things, both personal and professional on warm sunny days in between jobs and Percy’s ‘little presents’! There were days inevitably when things didn’t always go so smoothly – the Sat Nav that didn’t get us anywhere near where we wanted to be, motorway traffic jams, not least the pile up on the M25 that closed the motorway overnight and left a a tailback so long it took 4 hours to get form Brighton to Richmond, the times when I doubted my ability to even work the camera and the pressures that built both emotionally and physically for Joanna especially as the season really started to gather pace. We got through and supported one another through all of those highs and lows and a hell of a whole lot more this summer. I wish Joanna all the very, very best for a fantastic 2012 and if she advertises for an Intern next year – apply – I dare you 😉
You can see more of Joanna’s glorious weddings on her blog, website and Facebook page. To finish, here are a selection of pictures taken by me at the weddings we shot at together and the links listed below to Joanna’s full blog posts 🙂
Acres of Sky, Fields Of Corn & A Sunset To Die For – Simone & Marcus Get Married
A Wedding In A Ticket Office & A Picnic (Part Two) – Anna & Rakesh Get Married
All Aboard The Train (Part Three) – Anna & Rakesh Get Married
Sticks Of Rock, A 50’s Diner & The Seaside – Shanna & Sam Get Married In Brighton
Autumn Leaves, Fur Rugs & Antique Lace – Katie & Will Get Married