This week I would love to welcome Sarah Wayte to the blog. She is also a member of the Female Creatives Association. I'm a little partial to this one because we share the same first name. Sarah is quirky and sticks to her guns to pave her own path with her style. She has some great advice for upcoming photographers and also photographers already in the business.
My name is Sarah, Big Chief Photographer at Sarah Wayte Photography! I'm a Wedding and Portrait Photographer based in Essex, UK but I have passport and will travel! I would describe myself as kind of quirky, not very traditional and a big believer in doing things your own way. I love books and films and words and images are some of my favourite things. I also swear like a sailor and still wear my hair in bunches because why the hell not!? I'm married to Stuart and I am Cat-Mum to two balls of fluff, Lewie and Lola. :-)
1. What is your Name? My name is Sarah too! You know what? When I was growing up I absolutely hated my name. It annoyed me that, unlike most of my friends, I had a name that you couldn't really shorten or make into something else (like Elizabeth becoming Liz or Beth or Lizzie or Ellie, you know?!). The only variation I ever got for my name was "Sar" (rhymes with stare) and that drove me nuts. But now I quite like the fact that you can't shorten it. Hah!
2. What is the name of your blog and photography business? My business is Sarah Wayte Photography - certainly not the most imaginative name on the block and now made complicated by the fact I have since got married and my surname is now Woolley. Although I like the fact that I get an excuse to use my maiden name frequently (because I really don't like my married name! LOL. No slight on the hubby, of course. Just... Woolley, seriously?!).
3. Where are you located? I am based in a small village just outside of Chelmsford, in Essex, UK but I do happily travel for work as I love visiting new places!
4. How did you get interested in photography/how long have you been shooting? Like most things in my life, photography is something I kind of just fell into. I've had an interest for as long as I can remember, winning a teeny tiny little point-and-shoot when I was around 7 years old (I used my first entire film on photos of graves in a graveyard!). I've always been creative, spending most of my teen years writing creatively and then, in my early 20's I went through a spate of doing nothing creative at all because life and jobs and bills got in the way! And I hated it! I decided to change that one day by learning to paint so I went out and bought paints and brushes and canvasses and an easel, got it all home, opened it up to start and the moment I touched the brush to the canvas I realised I didn't have a flippin' clue what I was doing! I knew I had images in my head that I wanted to convey, but wasn't really sure how to do it. I went back to my point-and-shoot (an early digital one by then) and started taking photographs which I found I was really enjoying and people were giving me lovely comments on my photographs. I realised this was my medium and it went from there. I've been shooting properly now for about 10 years. I set up business 4 years ago.
5. What do you shoot with (Canon, Nikon, Sony, etc)? I'm a Canon girl through and through. I have two 5D3's and my three favourite primes (35, 50 and 85). On my days off I use an Olympus Pen. And I occasionally dabble in film with my 1970's SX-70 Polaroid. I'd love to shoot more film though.
6. What is your favourite lens? Without a shadow of a doubt it has to be my 35mm f/1.4. I just love the look the 35 gives you, very documentary. And I love that it challenges me to get in close when shooting candids at weddings!
7. How do you edit your photos? Lightroom! LR has been my saving grace. I used to painstakingly edit each image in PS and it would take me weeks to edit an entire wedding! With LR, it now takes me around 1-2 weeks. It's also taught me to try and do as much in camera as possible so that I do very minimal editing afterwards. I use VSCO Film Presets because I love the look they give me and I tweak exposure, noise and white balance when necessary. Other than that, that's about it! I do occasionally run an image through Alien Skin Exposure if I feel it needs a little something extra like some Tilt/Shift bokeh (now there's a lens I want!) or a light leak, but that's pretty much it. Nice and simple, much like me ;-)
8. What is your favourite type of photography to shoot? People. Or, more specifically, lifestyle portraits and weddings. You know, up until 4 years ago, I had never even photographed a person but since the first wedding I got forced into photographing (seriously, they wouldn't take no for an answer!), I found I absolutely love capturing people with my camera.
9. How did you find out about the FCA? In all honesty, I really can't remember. I suspect I probably saw a link or something on Facebook one day but couldn't tell you for sure. I signed up to the FCA when I was at a really low point in my life. I was suffering with depression following the near-death of my Mum, I was struggling to maintain my business because of my full-time commitments with my day job and I just was so unhappy. I was in a very dark place. Kind of ironic then that I should find myself signing up to a program called Shining Lights, huh?
10. What does the FCA mean to you and how has it helped you grow your business? I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm a total cynic and, when I first started delving into the FCA and all it had to offer, my initial thoughts were, "Well Sarah, what the hell have you signed up to now? What is this hippy shit?!" But I got talking about it with a friend of mine who I consider to be a bit of a "business guru" and when I told him about some of the things I had read (manifesting being one of those things) he totally started nodding along and saying, "Yes, that stuff really works!" It made me sit up and pay a bit more attention. I decided to give it a proper try. Again, I have no shame in admitting I am not the best student. I've never done particularly well with online courses and I do dip into Charlie's modules pretty sporadically but I can honestly say I have learned so much. The wealth of information is spot on, the support from the Shining Lights group is invaluable and being a part of the FCA has given me the confidence to get out there and be me, which seems to be having a knock on effect on growing my business. Who knew?!
11. What are some good tips for upcoming photographers that are trying to get started in the business? Getting started is such a conflict. On the one hand, I advise upcoming photographers that they should get out there and shoot, practise, practise, practise and show off your work online, get critiqued, look at what others are doing, get inspired and learn from them. And yet, on the other hand, I want to advise them to put on their blinkers, ignore what everyone else is doing, don't be disheartened by some of the cruel comments people will like give you and your photographs, don't succumb to the curse of comparison. It's a really tough business to get into, particularly if you're a sensitive soul because there are some real snobs and nasty people out there who want nothing more than to put you off your stride. It's only because they fear the competition, usually because they can see how talented you are and don't you to come along and steal their thunder (sorry, full of cliches today!). I guess the best advice then really is to develop a thick skin, work out who the haters are and who the genuine ones are giving you great advice and critique and helping you to develop your talent and business. Phew, talk about going round the houses to get to that point!
12. Be creative and let your juices flow. Is there anything fun about the type of photography that you do/what drives you to do photography. In this section just let loose and write about whatever you feel like. We want to get to know you as a photographer so share that here. Also if you have any other questions that you want to throw in please feel free! This is very informal but I want to share what you guys do! Photography is so much more than pointing a camera and clicking the shutter. Sure, it's about the technical things, getting the exposure right, composing an image to make it aesthetically pleasing etc. But actually, that isn't the be-all and end-all. For me, what truly makes a photograph is what's going on behind the image. I want an image to convey relationships between people, emotions they are feeling at the very moment the shutter clicks as well as the memory of what's happening right then. I want a bride to look at a photograph 15, 20, even 30 years down the line and immediately be transported back to the moment it was taken, remembering the flutter in her chest the moment she was about to walk down the aisle or vaguely picking up the scent of her beautiful bouquet. Also, photography has also become incredibly important to me since nearly losing my Mum 2 years ago. It made me realise that we have to grasp each moment with our loved ones and commit each of those moments to memory, with a photograph. Couples nearly always come back to me years down the line and tell me how important the photographs of a certain loved one have become since they died. And yet, in our every day lives we don't think to take photographs of normal, every day occurrences. The things that we tend to remember about our loved ones are the ones we have to dig around in our memories for because it's not the sort of thing we would have a photograph of. That's also why I've become more interested in lifestyle portrait sessions, rather than studio sessions. I would much rather have an image of my Mum cooking the Sunday dinner than one of her dressed to the nines with a full face of make-up on in a white-walled studio smiling inanely for the camera. One of my favourite images is of her sitting on our sofa and reading a book. I know that, in years to come, when she is no longer here, that that is how I would like to remember her. So I have a photograph of that moment to remind me. So yeah, I guess that's ultimately what drives me and my photography. I guess what I'm all about, really, is photography with heart. :-)
13. Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SarahWaytePhotography
Michelle + Mrinal's Engagement session in Rotherhithe
Hannah's Glasnevin Cemetery Session
Baby Jake Home Comforts session
Confetti shot from Beth + Matt's Valentine's Day Wedding
Thank you so much Sarah for such great advice and letting us into your world of photography!
Stay tuned next week! We have some more great photographers coming up.
If you would like to be featured in the Photography Series on this blog please email me firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get you the list of questions.