Wedding Photographer Kent Kristian Leven Photography shoots a wedding at Bodega Lagarde, Mendoza, Argentina, United Kingdom

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Wedding Photographer : Kristian Leven Photography  
Couple : Ashleigh + Tom
Wedding Photographer Kent
Ceremony Location : Bodega Lagarde, Mendoza, Argentina
Reception : Bodega Lagarde, Mendoza, Argentina
Wedding Date : 18th January 2014

Tell us a little about yourself??

I’m a Londoner born and bred, but recently escaped to the Kent coast to live by the sea, in Whitstable.

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How do you think or would like people to describe you?

Enthusiastic, positive, determined.

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Tell us a little bit about the wedding day?

It was in Argentina, in the wine-region of Mendoza, during their Summer months so it was baking hot during the days. The day had everything for me – a stunning couple who I completely empathized with – they wanted a very relaxed day, and a chance to celebrate with their closest friends and family – a beautiful location, and amazing, heartfelt moments.

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How did you get into wedding photography?

I think like a lot of people these days – with a love for photography and capturing beautiful and genuine moments. I took some pictures at a friend’s wedding, uploaded them to Facebook, and the response I got from people gave me the confidence to pursue this as a career.

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How long have you been a wedding photographer?

Since November 2009, so coming up to 5 years!

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Can you share how you've made your wedding photography business a success? Any mistakes you made along the way?

Dedicating many, many hours to it. When I got into it I thought it’d be a case of working two days a week – one day to shoot, one day to edit, and five days off! How wrong I was – it’s a 7-day job for me. Whether it’s working on the next blog post, perfecting the gallery of images for the couple, working on my SEO, refining my craft – there’s always something that needs to be done, and my To Do list is never empty.

In terms of mistakes, plenty have been made – high on the list is throwing money at advertising that didn’t come off. But each of these mistakes only help to push you on.

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What do you think a bride or groom should be looking for and not looking for in terms of wedding photography packages?

I’m one for keeping things simple, so personally I have two packages – one from Bridal prep to the speeches, and one to the First Dance. From experience that seems to cover the important bases, and gives couples the flexibility to have me there for the moments that are important to them, without the need to clock-watch.

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How do you advertise yourself and what for you has really worked?

Word of mouth is the best form of advertising, and I don’t do any other kind of advertising. Creating truly stunning imagery for couples, and over-delivering on every part of the process is what it’s all about. I really want my couples to be wowed when they see the final gallery of images for the first time.

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Why do you think people hire you?

Hopefully because they fell in love with my photography! I’m a relaxed guy as well, and I think that comes off in the kind of pictures I take.

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How many weddings do you average per year?

30, which I think is the magic number. It gives me time to really concentrate on those ones, whilst giving me the time to explore and travel in the off-season.

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Whose wedding would you love to shoot?

Any couple who really appreciate the work I do.

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If you were asked to shoot a destination wedding, where would you hope it would be?

Bali! Went there a couple of years ago and loved it. Plus one of my best friends lives there so it’d be an excuse to head over and see him.

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What equipment do you have for a typical wedding day?

Just moved over to the Nikon D610 (from the D700) and have two of those – one with a 35mm, the other an 85mm.

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What is the most challenging thing about a wedding.

Having to concentrate 100% of the time, and not losing focus. Even when there’s a period when I’m not taking pictures (for example on the journey from the church to the reception) I’m thinking about what kind of pictures I want to be taking later on.

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Do you have an approach to a wedding?

I like to be out-going and friendly, but also unobtrusive and completely focused. It’s a hard balance to maintain, but I couldn’t shut myself off completely, it’s just weird otherwise.

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Who or what inspires you?

Street photography – it’s what got me into photography in the first place. I love heading out the house and not knowing in the slightest what kind of picture I’ll take. On a wedding day there’s a narrative you need to follow – with street photography the sky’s the limit and you can create your own narrative, which creatively speaking I think is really important.

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Best & Worst marketing idea so far?

Best – blogging the kind of weddings and couples you want to photograph in the future.

Worst – spending money on magazine adverts

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If you weren't a photographer, what would you be?

I genuinely have no idea. I was lost for a long time before I found photography, and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

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Share your favourite image of the day and why?

So tough, but I’ve always loved the picture of Ashleigh reflected in the window the morning of the wedding. It was a completely natural moment and I love her elegance and grace in it.

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Do you have any goals for the future photography related or otherwise?

Just to keep on pushing myself, and putting in 100% every time I photograph.

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What do you think is key to being a successful wedding photographer?

Perseverance, determination, anticipation, and really understanding body language and composition.

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Are there any other wedding photographers whose work inspires you, can be a well know photographer or somebody you've stumbled across?

There are a few UK guys whose work I always look at when they blog (it wouldn’t be fair to single them out, they know who they are!), and I think it’s amazing that the standard of wedding photography in the country has gotten so good. It’s an exciting time to be a wedding photographer here.

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Proudest moment so far. Photography related or otherwise?

The day I went full-time. Sometimes you can become too obsessed with looking up the mountain at where you want to be, you forget to look back at where you came from. And when I do take a moment to look back, it’s that decision which fills me with the most joy.

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