Photographer Leah Haydock resisted wedding photography for years. But once she got married and took the leap into the industry (with both feet mind you) she was hooked. And her gorgeous work showcases a passion that can not be denied.
How did you get started in photography?
I was initially very anti-wedding photography. I can't believe I'm admitting this on a wedding blog! I was focused on corporate events and family photography. I had this outdated idea of wedding photography as stale, formal, stiff with nightmare clients. And then I got married (in Las Vegas!) and our wedding pictures literally blew my mind. I was really intrigued about the idea of shooting a wedding and so for around 3 months I second shot like crazy for anyone who'd have me along. It was a really eye-opening experience and really helped me to figure out how I wanted to run my photography business. Shooting my first solo wedding, I had one of those "ah-ha!" moments and realized I'd found my calling. Six years later, I'm so lucky to get to work with fabulous couples on the happiest day of their life and call it a job!
What do you love about wedding photography?
I love the challenge of essentially acting as the eyes of my couple on their wedding day. My clients really value photography, and they trust me to document the story of the day and their relationship. I love knowing that the images I make will be looked at for years to come and bring back the feelings of the day. I get a lot of comments about how happy and emotional my pictures are and that's something I really strive for on the day—I want my couples to look their absolute best and be overjoyed when they see their pictures. It's such an honor to be invited into the lives of two families coming together.
What is the biggest challenge you face when shooting a wedding?
Time. There's never enough and it seems to move at double speed! I'm very conscious that it's your wedding day and not a photo shoot, but most couples just don't realize how long everything takes on the day. If your dress has buttons or is corset-style it can take 25-40 minutes just to get in it. I’m certainly not a wedding planner, but having photographed over 100 weddings I'm pretty good at putting together timelines so I work closely with my couples to come up with a plan that gives them the pictures they want with the least amount of time away from the party.
What should clients know about your style of photography?
I'd describe my style as timeless and elegant with lots of emotional moments. I'm conscious that these are the pictures that will be displayed in albums that will become family heirlooms. I want to capture the way you feel on your wedding day and for you to look your absolute best in your pictures. My pictures are modern, clean and sharp—I don’t buy into trends and fad like over-tilting the camera or making everything vintage-yellow toned. For the majority of the wedding, my clients won't even know I'm there— I'm just capturing moments as they happen and for portraits I'll provide just enough direction for people to look their absolute best without feeling over-posed. I’m super professional but really relaxed to have around on your wedding day—and I have a British accent which seems to make most wedding parties laugh!
When you're not behind the camera, what do you like to do?
Mostly spend time with my husband and our two miniature dachshunds, Coco Chanel and Tiger Woods (named before the indiscretions). We're lucky enough to live right on Thomas Pond in Casco, Maine, just a few minutes from one of my favorite Maine wedding venues, Migis Lodge on Sebago Lake. I’m totally into cooking (I have secret dreams of setting up a food blog at some point) and I have a serious shoe addiction—I chose my Christian Louboutin heels before I chose my wedding dress! I also co-run www.tipsforweddingphotographers.com with a photographer friend and that keeps us busy sharing the knowledge and experience we have with newer photographers.
How can the couple help YOU on their wedding day?
I don't really think it's their job to help me on the wedding day but they can definitely help themselves get even better pictures in a number of ways. I always recommend doing an engagement session. It helps you to get really comfortable in front of the camera, when you see the pictures you inevitably say "Wow—we look really good!" which means that on the wedding day you’re super relaxed and confident and it feels like I'm just an old friend (with a really really good camera!). I'm a big fan of doing a first look —it's often the only time that couples have together amid the craziness of the day—and it means you enjoy cocktail hour as we can do all of the formals earlier in the day. You might also want to consider having an unplugged wedding ceremony to minimize the chance of well-meaning guests blocking shots—it's also nice for them to see the smiling faces of friends and family as they walk down the aisle vs. the back of cell phones and cameras. Lastly, with the humid/hot/rainy weather that we sometimes experience I'm a big fan of professional hair and airbrush make up for a flawless look!
How has your photography style changed over the years?
In terms of technical expertise, I've invested a lot of time and money into lighting education and equipment. I love keeping the romantic feel of the reception in my pictures (vs. over-flashing everything or having the venue look like a dark cave!). My overall style hasn't changed though, I still strive to make people cry (in a good way!) when they see their wedding pictures and I think I've gotten more skilled at watching and anticipating moments. If your photographer gives you maybe 800 pictures of the day and the average shutter speed is 1/800th of a second those 800 pictures represent just 4 seconds in time. I want to make each picture count and tell a story.
Where will your business be in the next 5 years?
Hopefully doing really well! I'm so lucky to work with the clients I have, they're so awesome at telling all of their engaged friends about me and although I've never advertised my business, I'm fully booked for 2012 and already 50% booked up for 2013. I really try to provide a very personal experience to my clients. If they choose Leah Haydock Photography for their wedding photography then it's always me as their photographer so I accept a maximum of 25 weddings each year. I also offer all of my clients a complimentary newborn shoot and as the years go on it's awesome that I get to re-connect with my couples and see their families grow.