Leigh Doran for Nadra Photography

Posted: June 09, 2015

Leigh Doran has been working as a professional photographer since the age of 21. She shares her skill and experience with the team at Nadra Photography.

How did you get started in photography?
I have always had an interest in photographs that started when I would pour through the family photo albums in the living room as a kid. I especially loved the pictures that were older than a time I could remember, the ones from when I was baby, or the ones from when my parents and grandparents were kids. For me, it was fascinating to look back at a time before I existed, and look into the faces and the eyes of the people who lived it, like being a time traveler.

As a teenager I picked up my Dad’s SLR film camera, and I was fascinated at the idea of image capture—of seeing something in front of your eyes and being able to capture it and take a piece of it with you. In the beginning, I saw photography as a hobby and didn’t know it could be a viable career. I was fortunate that we were living at the time in North Carolina, just a few miles from what was one of the top technical photography schools in the country. When I was 16 I started taking some of their classes for high schoolers, and I was hooked. The following year I officially enrolled in their degree program and I’ve been working professionally in the photography industry ever since.

What do you love about wedding photography?
Every time a couple chooses you to photograph their wedding, it is an invitation to bear witness to what will be one of the most significant days of their life, for the rest of their lives. That is always very humbling, and it never gets old. I love being able to witness a couple experience that emotion together with their families, because part of me can always relate to what they’re feeling. It pulls me in every time!

What is the biggest challenge you face when shooting a wedding?
It seems there are never enough hours in a day to execute all of your ideas and dream scenarios for epic wedding photographs, so I think one of the biggest challenges for me and also the couple is narrowing it down to what’s doable and what’s realistic in the time that you have.

What should clients know about your style of photography?
Our style at Nadra Photography is classic, timeless, real, honest, and authentic to the couple that we’re photographing. We combine a little bit of everything—classic, editorial, and photojournalism.

When you're not behind the camera, what do you like to do?
At this point in my life with a young child, family is everything. When I am not at work, I am spending as much time as I can with my husband and son. Someone once told me when you have kids that the days are long, but the years are short, and I am always cognizant of the fact that this time in life when my son is young and at home, is very brief. But, I also enjoy traveling and seeking out new experiences, people, conversation, story, writing, language, yoga, and music (I played classical piano in another life).
How can the couple help YOU on their wedding day?
The easiest weddings that go the smoothest are the ones where the couple is committed to their timeline that we create together. They know they want certain images, they plan the time in their day to make them happen, and then they stick to it on the wedding day, so that I can honor my end of the bargain to them—get them the great images they want and still get them back to their guests on time!

How has your photography style changed over the years?
The more I experience of life, the more it changes me as a photographer. I have been photographing weddings since I was 21. Back then, I was single; no husband, no children. When I got engaged to my husband, it changed how I met with new couples. Now I understood what that experience felt like and the emotions they were going through.

When I got married in 2012 and experienced being the bride for the first time, it changed for me again. And then, when I had my son in 2014, it made me see the parents in a whole new light on the wedding day, because now I know what it must be like to see your baby, all grown up, and starting their own family. I am much more tuned into the parents now, and what it means for them to see their children leave the nest and start out on their own path in life. It makes me want to cry when I see it! It is so bittersweet.

What sorts of things inspire you when you pick up your camera?
Universal themes inspire me—the things that make us human: love, family, laughter, tears, heartache, dreams, joy, celebration, happiness, and the fact that it all goes by so fast. Photography slows time down, just a bit anyway!

Where will your business be in the next 5 years?
Nadra and I have worked hard over the last 5 seasons together to build the business to give us both the life that we want, and we are really happy to have achieved that goal and be preparing for our busiest season yet in 2015. One of our goals was to see me become the face of the business in the Midcoast area. Since I live in Brunswick, the venues in Boothbay, Camden, and beyond, are accessible to me, and we’re happy that we’ve started to see that connection and clients or vendors now call and request me specifically  because they saw a wedding I shot, or we worked a wedding together. So, for the next 5 years, I’d like to see momentum, longevity, and sustained growth, and be able to say I’m still living the dream of being able to make a living with my camera!