Bath-based wedding photographers Dorothy Allen and Lucy Baker, who run Dot & Lucy Photography, were kind enough to take time out of their busy schedules to answer some questions for us.
Having both graduated from Bath Spa University in 2012 studying Creative Writing, Dot and Lucy were keen to combine their flair for photography into a fully fledged business and, after many returns to the drawing board, settled on the simple yet effective name Dot & Lucy Photography.
Check out what they had to say below.
How did you start getting interested in photography?
Dot: I’ve been aware of photography for as along as I can remember. My maternal grandfather was a keen photographer, always taking portraits of his wife, children and grandchildren, and he owned an impressive collection of film cameras that I used to play with throughout my childhood. My dad, too, has always been very prolific with the lens and our family albums almost fill a room! He was the one who bought me my first real camera when I was a young teenager. Ever since then I’ve been addicted. I love snapshots and the idea that you can capture a moment in time and keep it forever, but I also love the art behind photography – composition, lighting, colour, focus.
Lucy: I was 18 when I began taking photography seriously and considering it as a possible career. I was nannying for a family and realised how important it was for the parents, who weren’t there a lot of the time, to have these memories documented and I just loved doing it.
What equipment do you use?
Dot: At the moment we have a Canon 550D and usually stick with a Canon 50mm f/1.8, I love the depth it gives and it’s great in low light. When we bought it the sales assistant told us it’s “the best kept secret in photography” because it’s such a cheap lens but gives results almost as good as the 50mm f/1.4 (which is about £250 dearer!) so ssshhhhhhh. I also have a 24mm-70mm f/2.8 that comes in useful for wider angle shots.
Do you think having high-tech, expensive equipment is essential to fulfilling your work?
Dot:Definitely not. Of course you need good equipment and it has to be reliable, especially for something like wedding photography where things happen so quickly and there’s no second chance. But having ‘top of the range’ stuff with lots of noughts on the price tag doesn’t make you a good photographer. I know people who take amazing, published photographs with their iPhones!
Lucy: I think that having good quality, reliable equipment is definitely an essential for a wedding photographer! Unfortunately that quality usually comes with a high price tag.
What’s the best piece of advice you were given about photography?
Dot: For wedding photography, I think it was not to have an ego when it comes to the photographs. It’s difficult, because every photographer has their own style and you don’t want to compromise that too much. Presumably the couple has selected you because they’ve seen your work and like the way it looks, but you have to remember that this is THEIR wedding day and they’ve hired you to record it for them. Listen to what they want and then try as hard as possible to give them just what they’ve asked for, while still doing your own special thing.
Lucy: Take three seconds before taking the shot and remember to breathe when doing it. It can’t happen all the time, because moments you want to catch unravel so quickly in front of you, but in those times when you can do it, it helps you focus and make sure you’re getting the shot you want.
What’s the worst piece of advice you were given?
Dot: I find it really difficult to understand photographers who so obviously only care about the financial side of the job, charging a huge amount for the service and then extra if their clients actually want the digital files (…because some don’t!?) or keep the images from them so that they have to go back and pay more every time they want a print. I’ve always ignored people who push this way of working, it’s really not our ethos and we want our couples to have and enjoy their photographs…the whole thing seems like a bit of a pointless exercise otherwise!
Lucy: Having said that, we don’t want clients to hire us based only on the price, we want them to hire us because they love our photography. We received advice to keep our price really low which we ignored. We’ve done our fair share of unpaid and low paid work to build up our portfolio, confidence and experience but I strongly believe in putting value on your work.
What’s the greatest challenge you face day-to-day running your own photography business?
Dot: Neither Lucy or I are particularly organised when it comes to things like filing, so keeping all our paperwork in order is definitely a challenge – but one we’re getting much better at!
Lucy: Agreed… we’re artists not accountants!
Do you find the competition in the wedding photography industry tough to contend with as a new-starter?
Dot: It hasn’t been too tough, we’ve already got lots of bookings for 2014 and the couples who find us only have good things to say. We need to get better at marketing ourselves and pushing our services online, but that’s something we’re working on now that we’ve got the business running comfortably. There are a lot of wedding photographers out there, but we find more established businesses an inspiration rather than competition, hopefully it’s where we’ll be in a few years’ time!
Lucy: I feel like we’re offering something slightly different than our competitors as, from the research we did, we are much more affordable and have much less fine print. Ultimately we don’t want to hoard a couple’s photos, they are for them to cherish so we give them as many as we can and at no extra cost. We didn’t find many duo photography teams in our research so this gives us a good edge in the local market too.
Did you receive professional training or have you more or less self-taught your skills as a photographer?
Dot: I’ve never had any professional training as a photographer. I’ve mostly self-taught, but family and friends have offered their advice and knowledge too.
Lucy: I’m also self taught too with a plethora of talented friends who helped along the way!
Finally, what advice would you give prospective photographers who want to follow a similar path to you?
Dot:Just go for it! It’s easy to let nerves get in the way, and making the step from someone who takes photos all the time for fun to someone who takes photos for money can be scary. It was for me but I’ve never regretted it. I do something I completely love as my job now, and I’m so glad I didn’t let doubts or apprehension hold me back.
Lucy: Find local events, get involved in everything and take A LOT of photos.
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