Behind the lens with Herefordshire photographer Caz Holbrook
29 Sep 2016
Take a glimpse inside Caz Holbrook's fascinating world of photography and discover the talent behind her pictures
How would you describe your style of photography?
Creative, informal, relaxed and unobtrusive.
How did you start out in wedding photography?
I studied Art and Photography for four years at Hereford Art College and I have a keen eye for detail. I became self employed as a photographer on the Enterprise Allowance Scheme upon leaving college 25 years ago and also worked on a cruise ship as a photographer. Whilst I haven't been continually employed as a photographer during the years, I have always loved it. I shot my first wedding over 20 years ago but can't remember whose it was... I would think it was a friend's wedding. I do love photographing weddings and I adopt an informal reportage style throughout the day. I do also think being female has its advantages when being a wedding photographer, especially during the bridal prep. The main aim during any wedding is to create a pictorial diary of the day, catching all those fleeting moments that might otherwise be forgotten.
Who are your ideal clients?
Open minded and relaxed clients who are prepared to go with the flow and that might be up for something a bit different.
Can you choose a picture that encapsulates everything that you want to achieve as a wedding photographer? Tell us what it is about this image that you love.
This is an absolute favourite image of mine that perfectly captures the love and the laughter. Anna, the bride, cried at the end of the confetti walk because she thought the moment was so perfect and so beautiful. I love Jonathan's slightly bemused face too.
What are your inspirations?
Cliff Mautner is in my opinion an absolute master of wedding photography. I love his low light work 'using shadow as his canvas and light as his paint'. I also follow Alan Law on Facebook, as I love his reportage style. Another inspiration for me has been a good friend and photography mentor, Russell Lewis. He took me under his wing when I'd had a big knock to my confidence a number of years ago and he gave me some invaluable mentoring. He helped me to see that I didn't need to be shown how to do it, but that I just needed to have confidence in myself. It's not just his style of photography that I love but also his work ethic, he is just genuinely such a kind man who obviously cares very much about his clientele. I think getting a good rapport with people at a wedding is a really important thing, especially if it's the reportage style of shooting that you choose. The more that people relax around you, the better (and often funnier) the images.
How far in advance should those interested look to book you?
Prime summer dates get booked up the previous year (usually). Sometimes you may fall lucky with a date not being snapped up quickly, but I'm getting more and more enquiries in as the business gathers speed. So it's always best to get things like venues, photographers, hair and make-up and flowers booked nice and early.
What's the most challenging part of photographing a wedding?
Constantly changing light throughout the day is a challenge and means a wedding always keeps you on your toes. And, of course, the British weather... you can never rely on that.
How can couples help to ensure the best work?
By going with the flow and letting me take responsibility. Us photographers really do know at what point in the day the light is best. Having attended lots of weddings, we also know what works and what doesn't. Lots of those 'perfect' Pinterest moments are from styled shoots and simply aren't practical to set up at a real wedding.
What time will you arrive? How long will you stay.
I'm always pretty specific about my ETA and time this around make-up artists, hair stylists etc if shooting prep and always schedule in time to speak with the registrar or vicar prior to the service too. They are all different in what images they will allow, so I make sure I'm very clear on exactly what I'm allowed to do, where they would like me to stand etc. I also like to make it clear that whilst the packages might only include X amount of hours on paper, that I won't be tapping my watch if things run a little behind schedule. If I say I'll capture the first dance, then I'll still be there to do so if things don't run quite to plan.
What does your package include?
I make it very clear what the packages include. I think it's really important to have a meeting with clients very early on to firstly see whether we get along and also so that they can see the albums in real life. They can then only truly appreciate the quality of the fine art albums I provide if they see them first hand. I've also heard horror stories from people whose photographers have only provided them with low resolution images and that it wasn't made clear to them that this was all they would get, so I clarify this from the outset.
What happens if it rains?
We all might get a bit wet and I love a good challenge! Unfortunately we're in Britain and this does tend to happen quite frequently, so I always plan for it. I also carry a couple of very handy large umbrellas and my cameras can withstand some rain – basically, it won’t stop you having stunning pictures.
What's your opinion on the controversial 'group shots'?
When it comes to group shots, there is a growing trend towards having less and less of these. Whilst I do think they have their place, I've never been that keen on them so am relishing stepping away from them. They invariably take up a huge chunk of your time, time that could be spent laughing and creating special memories with family and friends you likely haven't seen for a while.
I much prefer to do a series of smaller group shots and to catch group shots as they naturally occur. And if grandad happens to encourage everyone to tuck their trousers into their socks and do the can can - then even better.
In terms of trends, what do you think is the most interesting at the moment?
Smoke grenades. I have jumped on the bandwagon with this one. I'm finding my brides and grooms are loving it. If you do a little bit with smoke grenades you never know what you're going to get. It injects some colour on a dull day and creates some excitement and gets the adrenaline flowing. It's certainly a fast and furious part of the day. It's also a great way of building up a rapport with some of the guests as I usually sign up 'helpers'. I sometimes keep it as a little surprise for my bride and groom as you can't always be sure that there will be the space at a venue to be able to do it, or if the venue owners will allow permission too.
I'm also loving the trend for big skies (the more dramatic, the better). As well as being a wedding and portrait photographer I also do a lot of landscape fine art images and I sell these at a gallery. It's great to be able to combine the two things in one image too.
What's the most common misconception that you have to correct with couples?
The comment: "That's a nice camera, that must take good pictures". Complimenting the quality of a photograph, or the skill required to take it, is a compliment,but implying that the only way you could have taken such a good picture is with expensive kit is not. As they say 'It's not the arrow, it's the Indian'.
What's been your most memorable wedding to photograph, and why?
That is a very hard question to answer as they are all so different and I don't think I have a favourite or a most memorable. Work progresses all of the time and at a wedding, especially, you never know what you're going to get or what opportunities will arise. In the words of Imogen Cunningham: "Which of my photographs is my favourite? The one I'm going to take tomorrow".
Why is wedding photography worth the investment?
Your wedding photography should provide you with a pictorial diary of your special day. It will remind you of those fleeting moments, 'that' look during the speeches, the laughter and often the tears; a wedding day is packed full of emotions and your photography should capture that. Your wedding photography should be an heirloom and your love story, a gorgeous valuable legacy for you to pass on to future generations.
Finally, if you weren't a wedding photographer, what would you be?
Maybe an event manager as I've previously directed a festival and have also got years of experience in the hospitality trade, but it would probably still be something creative or art-based.