People usually wait for special occasions to have professional portraits taken, but I had been nagging Lee, my partner, for quite some time about getting some professional portraits taken of us.
As photographers, we know how valuable these memories are and yet all we have to commemorate our (nearly) 5 years together, are a few selfies on our phones.
A typical selfie of us
Having said that, there is a reason that we choose to be on the side of the camera that takes the photos rather than poses for them. We both HATE having our photo taken and are hyper critical about how we look... just like most of the clients that come to us.
With my birthday fast approaching, I asked Lee for us to have some portraits taken as a gift. It was such an interesting journey for us as photographers to go through the process as clients and we learnt a lot that we can apply to our own businesses.
It was important for us to find a photographer that took photographs with a similar style to Lee's so it wouldn't look out of place on our walls with his client artwork, so whilst we wanted some portraits, we were also looking for something on a larger scale... a bit more WOW.
The first thing we discovered was that quite a few photographers just didn't get back to us once we'd made the enquiry. This is a tough one for us too as we always try to make an acknowledgement the same day that we get an enquiry. We will try to call or send messages too but if after a few unsuccessful attempts at contact we haven't heard back, we tend to leave it. We were disappointed that some photographers didn't at least acknowledge us.
We came across a very talented local photographer called Jessy Papasavva and the process of booking was very easy. As we are 3 photographers with very busy diaries, the next challenge was finding a suitable time for our shoot, so even though we made enquries in May, it wasn't until August that we were all mutually available.
My next task was to find someone to do hair and makeup as I knew I wanted to feel good about the way I looked in these photos - they are for life. I reached out to a few local forums and came across Peghe Kakolyris-Yianni who was so lovely and gave me a lovely soft glam look based around my choice of dress and Niki who styled my hair into beautiful waves.
Before and after the rain!
With the gorgeous summer we had, we were confident of a glorious shoot up on Southbank in London... Oh how wrong we were! We had chosen the rainiest day of the whole summer and it was so tempting to cancel. We starting looking up locations in central London that were covered so we could still go ahead.
Where did the sun go?
I know that if I have ever booked a location session, at this point I would be in a blind panic about where we could go to still get some amazing photos. Jessy thankfully had the excellent suggestion of Kew Gardens so with hair and makeup done, wearing a vintage summer dress, we set off in the pouring rain. My beautifully styled hair didn't even make it as far as getting into the car! As we drove through West London, wipers barely able to keep up with the rain, we just kept looking at each other saying "We must be mad - what must Jessy think of us?" but this was our only opportunity as we had bookings every weekend until November!
Apart from worrying about the rain and my hair, it suddenly dawned on me that I was about to pose for photos - something I just HATE to do, and not only that, I would be in front of all the other visitors that had descended on Kew Gardens on such a rainy day. It was at this point both Lee and I had a realization of what it must feel like for the clients that come to us for photography, especially if like us, they don't really like having pictures taken.
Jessy pulled up and like the diva I am not, I let her and Lee go and organise the parking fees etc as I was worried about getting my hair wet! For anyone that knows me this is so not me but these photos meant a lot to me.
So, feeling like a fool in my heels and floaty Summer dress, we walked under our umbrellas to the Palm House. Yes, we forgot that it is a humid environment, so not only did Jessy's lens steam over, but my frizz prone hair finally gave up. We were probably Jessy's worst nightmare at first as we were super conscious of all the people looking at us and we kept whispering to each other how awkward we felt. This is how our clients probably feel just after we have met and the say "right stand there and let's go."
Lee and Jessy walking in the rain
Jessy thankfully was a warm and friendly person so we soon felt at ease in her company although we still felt conscious of the other people watching us.
My favourite part of the shoot was at the end when we just danced and kissed in the rain. Jessy we are so grateful that you went along with our crazy shoot.
It's a wrap!
The next part of the client experience was receiving our sneak peek images. We knew they were coming and I was checking my inbox constantly in anticipation. In my head I was thinking that I was not going to like the way I looked in the pictures as I am my own worst critic. I think I even got butterflies before I opened them up. Then... relief. Jessy had done a great job and I loved the pictures and like so many of our clients say, I couldn't wait to see the rest of them.
What we do as photographers is a very powerful thing. In the course of one day I had been through a range of emotions and Jessy had been there too capture it all.
Now we have all of our final images, we are just delighted. Looking at the pictures brings back all of those memories. I can remember the rain and how wet my feet were from walking through the puddles, the hissing of the humidifiers in the palm house, the feeling of being glad Lee was there feeling just as awkward as me. I also found that spending this time with Lee was so enjoyable and made me remember all the things I love about him and how happy he makes me. Now when I walk past these pictures every day, I will always remember that crazy day when we headed out in the rain to capture our memories.