Our ‘Real Weddings’ section is another opportunity for couples to find inspiration and find their wedding photographer. It doesn’t matter which part of the world you live in, if you’re inspired by what you see then you should get in touch with the wedding photographer. You should never forget one thing, a wedding photographer loves to travel and all our wedding photographers are passionate about what they do.
Photographer: Shelby Ellis Photography
Couple: Mark & Di
Location: Queen’s College, Cambridge
Wedding Date: 4th July 2015
Tell us a little about yourself?
I’m Shelby, a 22-year-old photographer based in Kent. I have been in love with photography since I was about 14 – I studied it through school and college and now I get to do it out in the big wide world!
How do you think or would like people to describe you?
The most common thing people say when they first meet me is “wow – you’re tall!” Yes, I’m almost 6ft. But I also hope they would say I’m an easygoing, friendly person who is a pleasure to work with.
Tell us a little bit about the wedding day?
Bright and beautiful was the setting for Mark & Di’s special day. And what a fantastic location – the beautiful chapel of Queen’s College for the ceremony, gorgeous halls for dinner and a fun reception in the campus bar. We even got to do a few shots on the famous Mathematical Bridge! However, the day didn’t start off so perfectly – poor Mark had a suit emergency when the seam of his jacket split as he was getting ready! Luckily a lovely lady with a needle and thread came to the rescue.
How did you get into wedding photography?
My venture into wedding photography was purely coincidental really – I used to only shoot portraits but another photographer friend needed a second shooter for a wedding he was doing. I loved the entire experience and have not looked back since!
How long have you been a wedding photographer?
Whilst I’ve been doing photography since school I have only been a wedding photographer professionally for just over a year. I have been a second shooter a number of times and have photographed friends’ weddings but only in the last year have I been taking on paid bookings.
Can you share how you’ve made your wedding photography business a success? Any mistakes you made along the way?
It still feels a bit strange calling it a business really! I would say my best decision was definitely choosing where to advertise myself– aiming to market for the type of clients I really want to work with has allowed me to book a lot of really cool weddings. Of course as a business amateur, mistakes have been made along the way. I think one of my biggest mistakes early on was accepting some weddings for barely any payment at all, when I was just starting out– they were the sort of couples with no real budget for photography and so they weren’t that fussed about the photos, which I believe had a negative affect as the photos didn’t turn out as well as I wanted them to and it really disheartened me – I was questioning whether I was good enough to be a professional photographer. But I started charging more and found that the couples I was booking actually cared about the photography and the difference really showed.
What do you think a bride or groom should be looking for and not looking for in terms of wedding photography packages?
In my opinion, one of the most important things to find in your wedding photographer is someone you get on with – particularly if you’re the sort of person who doesn’t really like photos of themselves, as it is important your photographer makes you feel comfortable on the day. I’ve also found it very beneficial to have an engagement shoot before the wedding day – this gives you the chance to meet your photographer and experience how they work. I would also strongly advise that couples ask to see examples of full weddings (if not already on the photographer’s website) so you can get a better idea of what to expect from them. A website with a few select images from various weddings is not good enough, they’ve obviously just picked the best ones!
How do you advertise yourself and what for you has really worked?
I advertise online mainly, as this is where you get the widest reach – I have business cards too but never really hand any out! If you’re a photographer who wants to shoot particular things, find a way to advertise to that market. This has really worked for me – I found a well published online platform for wedding suppliers which has exactly the type of wedding I like to photograph and got listed as one of their suppliers – probably about 85% of my enquiries so far have come through that site, so the best advertising decision I ever made!
Why do you think people hire you?
I would hope that my couples hire me because they love my work! My approach is simple, classic and documentary-styled, so I capture the day as it naturally unfolds.
How many weddings do you average per year?
So I’ve only been taking bookings for just under a year, and I have 8 booked this year and currently 4 for next year – so still getting there! My goal is to reach 20 weddings per year.
Whose wedding would you love to shoot?
This is so difficult, but I’d probably go for Emma Watson and her future husband. I’m a big Harry Potter fan (wouldn’t it be cool if the wedding was Harry Potter themed!)– plus, she’d look stunning in the photos!
If you were asked to shoot a destination wedding, where would you hope it would be?
Ooh, anywhere! But I’d particularly love Paris or Italy as they just ooze romance
What equipment do you have for a typical wedding day?
Standard wedding day camera bag would include two camera bodies (I only shoot on one but need a backup just in case!) as well as 3-4 different lenses, usually one wider for venue and large group shots, and definitely my 50mm and 85mm for candid and portraits. As well as my flash for the reception, and plenty of spare batteries and memory cards!
What is the most challenging thing about a wedding.
Particularly with large weddings, getting photos of all the guests can be extremely difficult – I sometimes like to have a second shooter with me so I’ve got an extra pair of hands to try and get as many as possible!
Do you have an approach to a wedding?
I like to stay as unobtrusive as possible, blending in the background as much as possible so the bride and groom don’t have a camera shoved in their face all day! This gets the best results with the photos, as I’m able to capture natural emotions – whether it be laughter or tears!
Who or what inspires you?
I am lucky enough to be part of a wide network of photographers all over the UK and across the globe, too. We have a Facebook group where people can share their work, and we even have live chats hosted by the group admins so that others can ask questions and get tips!
If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be?
I do currently have a “normal” 9-5 job working in insurance and do my weddings on the side. But I used to really want to work for a magazine still doing something creative, like art editor. Or even writing the content!
Do you have any goals for the future photography related or otherwise?
Main goal is to get more weddings booked year on year, at least 20. I would also love to get more of them featured! I also want to get better at updating my social media platforms – sometimes months pass without me posting anything!
What do you think is key to being a successful wedding photographer?
Staying true to your style – if you don’t, you’ll lose all the love you had for it because you aren’t producing the type of work you want to be. Make sure people book you because they actually like your work, not just because of your price, locality or something else. That way you know you can just keep doing what you do best and enjoy it!
Are there any other wedding photographers whose work inspires you, can be a well know photographer or somebody you’ve stumbled across?
There are so many other photographers in my local area who are part of the network I mentioned earlier who inspire me daily – it would take too long to list them all!
Proudest moment so far. Photography related or otherwise?
Definitely finishing my website – I designed and created it all myself, with no previous web design experience or knowledge. Just taught myself the software by playing around and reading online tutorials. It took a lot of hard work but I was able to make it how I wanted with all the important functions, and it actually looks decent!
Wedding Photographer Sevenoaks – Shelby Ellis