The Styled Shoot

One of the toughest aspects of this business, particularly if (like me) you have the experience but not necessarily a portfolio that displays work up to your (very high) standards, is knowing that you can do the work, that you have a vision to guide your dream and that it's all just within your grasp.  With so many AMAZING wedding photographers to choose from, how do I persuade you to choose me without sounding like I'm trying to SELL SELL SELL.  We hustle at wedding fairs, we speak to so many lovely couples, we're so encouraged and walk away feeling like we NAILED IT...

But then.


It's easy to get frustrated, to get discouraged, to look at my table and display and think that I wish I had MORE to show for my efforts.  In an industry with more than enough work to go around for all of us, how do we stand out? And how do I personally progress, how do I continuously better myself and make sure I'm not just getting lazy and waiting for the next wedding to roll around to blog about and post on social media. 

I have been so fortunate to receive such overwhelming support from friends, family and new clients in the past six months since taking the leaping and setting up Squid & Pearl Photography.  I've worked with families and couples that have inspired me, that have pushed me to get better and better every day.  I've met unbelievable fellow photographers and have set up collaborations with them, followed their work through their blogs and picked their brains about how, not just me, but all of us can constantly strive to be the best we can be and truly give these couples photographs they will treasure for generations.

My first weddings of 2016 are looming on the horizon but rather than enjoy some time off, I'm filling my days with more family, newborn and pet sessions than I can count.  I'm writing, something I've been out of practice with.  I'm learning my camera inside and out, taking online classes in editing and posing.  But I'm also setting up styled shoots with other wedding professionals, creating beautiful, sometimes unconventional bridal tableaux where I can experiment and play with everything I'm learning.   Already over the next few weeks I'll be shooting an early spring minimalist bridal portrait session at our local rugby club with brick walls and tall golden grasses setting my scene; I'll help my models onto horses and explore tipis at a nearby riding school; I'll be shooting a guerilla-style urban bridal collaboration with an awesome fellow photographer in an abandoned power station...

These projects all tick the boxes, they will force me to think outside of my own comfort zone and stretch my personal creativity to the limit. 

But all this planning just makes me ready to go with it! I can't wait to see the results of all the preparation.  That eagerness can be overwhelming though and gives me this NEED to channel the buzz into another project NOW. 

With that in mind, I made a couple of phone calls rallying the McCarthy troops.  I had shot an engagement session in Walkden Gardens back in the early autumn but was dying to go again when the daffodils were just pushing through and the wisteria hadn't greened over yet.  Dressing my very patient (and stunning) sister-in-law in a borrowed wedding gown, twisting her hair back, securing it with a dazzling swallow brooch from CJ Antiques and handing her a bouquet of ivory antirrhinum that I picked up for £3.50 from Sainsburys, we raced around the park with the echo of my daughter belly-laughing at her nana's game of chase.  Never mind that she was wearing jeans and trainers under the dress, never mind that we only had 30 minutes before the park closed or that as the sun set temperatures dropped.  Kimberley was an absolute PRO and at the end, my eyes shone with the knowledge that regardless of how long it takes to truly get this business off the ground, I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be doing a job that I'm so very much in love with.  Let me know what you think!