The Interview Fiona Watson Photography
For our first interview of 2018 we met with Fiona Watson, a Glasgow based wedding photographer, to find out about her work and this exciting and challenging genre of photography.
Originally from Applecross in the North West Highlands, Fiona’s photography has featured on the Braw Brides blog and in Tie the Knot magazine.
She also offers portrait, commercial and “mini people” photography services.
So let’s get started!
Q: Of all the genres wedding photography is the one that scares me the most. Looking through your portfolio you clearly relish the challenge and your images show that you create so much more than just a record of the big day. There is real feeling there and your images capture some of the less predictable and clichéd moments. Was there a time when you were scared and what made you decide that you wanted to photograph weddings?
A: Thank you so much, that means a lot. You’re right, my style tends to let a lot of moments happen and I’m there to document it. I don’t think I’ve ever been scared as such, every wedding is different. I still get butterflies, but that is mostly because I’m excited that a couple have put a lot of faith and trust in me to capture their day. Weddings go from being chilled out in the morning, then all of a sudden, it’s time for ceremony and there’s a lot of hustle and bustle to get the finishing touches in place before they walk down the aisle. I am confident when it comes to reading lighting situations and what the capabilities of my camera are, so I that doesn’t tend to frighten me. I started in weddings when my cousin asked me to photograph their wedding. I was delighted to have been asked and from there I haven’t looked back.
Q: There are hundreds of wedding photographers out there, some very good and some not so good. Do you feel there are too many who set up as professionals without having “earned their stripes” either through a formal qualification or working as an assistant gaining experience?
A: I feel there are definitely those that start as a photographer thinking it will be easy. The couple have to connect with their photographer and there are so many different personalities out there, there is someone suited for everyone. I am mostly self taught, but I invested in a lot of different courses to gain experience which has really helped me. I still do a lot of second shooting for other photographers because you can always learn something new. Even the most experienced never know everything.
Q: What advice would you give to a couple who were feeling somewhat bemused by the sheer number of wedding photographers offering their services?
A: It is intimidating. Especially when you do that dreaded search on the internet, but try not to worry. Ask friends and family if they have recommendations, check out their galleries to see what you love about that photographers work. Word of mouth is always a great way to find someone that might be suitable. Read wedding blogs, Scottish blogs like Braw Brides or We Fell in Love are great examples. See if any styles jump out at you. If there are then look to see who that photographer was. They’ll always be listed. Instagram is another great way to find a photographer. If you’ve already booked your venue, search for that venue as a hashtag and images that photographers have posted should pop up.
Q: Reportage or formal? Which do you prefer?
A: I love both, but reportage is definitely the style wedding photography has moved towards now.
Q: Everyone is trying to be different. But as we both know “there is nothing new under the sun”. What is the most unusual thing you have asked to photograph at a wedding?
A: That’s a great question! One of my early weddings, I had a bride who was getting married to her fiancé, and they had a joint ceremony with her sister and their partner. So it was a double wedding. It made perfect sense though because their family was already at the wedding so combining their ceremonies was a lovely and personal touch.
Q: Is it more challenging to work in a world where the wedding guests can have the images uploaded onto Instagram whilst you are still shooting the event?
A: I don’t think so. Not for me anyway, as the quality is certainly different to what I deliver as an end product. I feel sometimes that it’s a shame for the couple that photos are uploaded on to social media straight away, especially if there’s evening guests invited. It takes the surprise out of things for any evening guests if they’re browsing and then come across an image of a bride in their dress. A popular option now is for a couple to have an ‘unplugged’ wedding. Meaning that no phones or cameras are allowed at all during the ceremony and the guests are more present.
Q: What does the future hold for the traditional wedding photographer and have you personally had to evolve to survive in a highly competitive environment?
A: I feel that maybe a lot of traditional photographers have already evolved, still keeping elements that have attracted people to their work in the first place. I have definitely had to evolve. Finding a style takes; shooting a lot of weddings, reading books that inspire you and putting that in to practice.
Q: And finally for us geeks here are my questions I ask all photographers.
What was your first camera?
A: As an adult I bought myself my first DSLR which was a Canon 550d. As soon as I started doing more photography, I was desperate to move on to something bigger and better! As I child I remember having one of those long, thin Kodak film cameras!
Q: What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photographs?
A: I wish I knew how to market myself better when I started out.
Q: Were you influenced by any particular photographers when you started out?
Q: Something everybody likes to know – what kit do you carry in your bag when heading out into the field?
A: I usually have; 1 x Canon 5D MKIII and 1 x Canon 5D MKII, 35mm/50mm/85mm/70-200mm lens, 2 x Godox Flashes, flash trigger, spare batteries & a couple of pens. I’ll always have a couple of stands and a tripod in the car, just in case.
Q: Do you have a favourite lens?
A: I love the 35mm; that’s my go-to lens for sure, but it depends on the situation. If I’ve got the space to work, I’ll definitely use the 85mm.
Q: If you were only allowed to give a new photographer one piece of advice what would it be?
A: Hone your craft, learn everything about your camera. It needs to become an extension of you, and you need to walk in to every situation knowing exactly how you would shoot it.
Q: Where do you think photography will be in ten years time?
A: It will still be an important part of our lives. Social media has almost forced us to make it a huge part of our every day lives, which is lovely. People are sharing photos more. I have family who have a Facebook group that share old scans of photos which I think is amazing. There is the risk that of course, people don’t print their images. It just ends up on a cloud or a hard drive somewhere and you never really look at them. I am a big advocate for prints and getting those memories on to your wall. In terms of using social media to promote your business, I have no idea. Just this month, Facebook & Instagram are changing the goal posts for business pages (not just photography) so it’ll be interesting to see how that impacts. However, it will just be a case of accepting and evolving again.
Technology is changing so much already. Photography itself and people taking photos will just continue to grow. The fact that the quality of images you can get from a small digital camera now, is brilliant. In terms of photography as a business, there will still be a need for it and I hope that I will continue to be part of this industry as I have a lot of passion for the work that I do.
A huge thank you to Fiona for taking the time to talk to us.
If you would like to see her work or speak to her regarding your big day all her details are listed below:
If you would like to be our next interviewee we’d love to speak to you.
Get in touch via our contact page.