{Workshops} A tequila and tea-fuelled wedding photography festival in the woods

I love going to photography workshops. I never studied photography at school, so workshops are how I learned to be a wedding photographer. And (pretty much) all the workshops I’ve done have been great – they taught me how to find my ideal clients (you guys!), how to market myself, and basically (in the early days) how weddings work. But SNAP Festival, which I went to last week, taught me how to KICK ASS at weddings.

The 4-day-long festival had workshops from 19 speakers, starting at 6.30 every morning until 11pm, and there were even workshops squeezed into the lunch breaks. It was epic, and I don’t use that word lightly.

The festival took place at Fforest in Wales, a glamping (hmm need a definition there as my accommodation was far from glam!) site that housed 75 of us, fed us well, treated us to glorious sunsets, and for the more daring of us (not me!) offered an ice-cold river to jump into. It was awesome!

But the campsite was just the setting for what was the most kick-ass, fun, wild, messy, inspirational and love-filled, tea-fuelled wedding photography festival. One of the most fun parts of the festival was the imprompu campfire singsong followed by a wild party in the tipi that involved tequila, men wearing dresses (naming no names!), space blankets, a 90s playlist and a massive bundle on the dancefloor before people realised it was 4am and we had our first workshop in 2.5 hours…

Like a giddy schoolgirl, I was really excited to meet a few of my photography idols – namely Ross Harvey, Andy Gaines and Nick Tucker. They didn’t disappoint, and I learned awesome things like the story of a plant that can read thoughts (yes this was photography related… I think).

But mostly what I learned from it, well, what I confirmed from it, was 1) the power of being nice to people. Being given a hug good-morning from a girl I’d met 24 hours earlier, being confided in, being told that someone loves my contagious laugh, it all made me feel SO GOOD. I loved it and I love all the people I met. It makes me want to make people feel as good as I did. Does that make sense? It doesn’t have to. I guess I just came away from it all with, as they say “all the feels”. And 2) being true to myself and doing what is right for ME – for the good of my work and my couples.

Some things I learned/comfirmed from Snap:

♥ We don’t have to do something just because others do it. Who said we must take photos of the dress hanging in a window, who says we must get photos of every single piece of decoration? I will do what’s right for me, and deep down (well not that deep down, it’s pretty on the surface) I love taking photos of PEOPLE. All the PEOPLE! I’d rather take a photo of you IN the dress than of it hanging up all lonely. And rather than miss a shot of your dad crying or your nan tripping over because I’m too busy hanging a dress on a tree, I’m going to be RIGHT THERE with the people all the time, not missing a moment (apart from toilet breaks…)

♥ On the same topic… Stop looking at other wedding photographers’ work. STOP! I don’t want to be influenced by them, I want to create work that is uniquely mine and my own vision. That’s what my lovely couples are paying me for after all! If I had never seen a photo of a dress in a window I would never have shot it, I would have come up with my own (much more creative) ideas. Commencing memory erase!

♥ Give genuine compliments. So often I think something but never say it. I love getting compliments, and they make me like the person who gave it even more. Let’s make people happy!

♥ Get in close and personal. The physically closer I am to the person I’m shooting, the more emotion and “realness” (yes made up word) the viewer will feel. I’m not gonna be up in your face all the time, but I will make more of an effort to get into the action (while still totally being a stealthy ninja).

♥ To remember that it’s so important to capture the personalities of my couples in my photos. No fancy poses, just people being themselves.

♥ Don’t think too much, just shoot whatever I think looks cool. Shoot everything! A wedding is full of nuances and moments, and I don’t want to miss a thing.

♥ Find my tribe. The wedding photography industry can be bitchy and competitive, but there are so many wonderful supportive and friendly photographers out there, and I’m going to treasure them. The Snap Festival attendees and speakers were all so lovely and inspirational and they’re the people I want to associate and be friends with.

♥ Watch more awesome movies! The speakers referenced too many movies I haven’t seen, it’s time to get on Netflix and expand my horizons and feel inspired and whatnot.

♥ If a bunch of photographers get together and there is tequila involved, have a camera handy!!

Here are some photos I took of the festival and the lovely people I met. The party shots are from the previously mentioned tequila-fuelled party that never happened shhhh.