This month’s Spotlight feature meets a very talented photographer who worked for years out of the limelight as a technician, stylist and prop buyer to name just a few talents. She then decided to get behind the camera and we are very glad she did. Let me introduce Karen Parker, owner of a very good eye (well two actually!), a sense of humour and the knowledge as to what makes a great picture …
I started wedding, celebration and portrait photography four years ago. Before that I worked at a University for 10 years firstly as an AV technician and then Media Consultant, purchasing and looking after the lecture theatre equipment and training staff and students on how to use it effectively. Before that I was a photographer’s stylist, prop buyer and background artist and assistant working in commercial studios in London.
I studied photography full time for three years following a Foundation Art course
How would you describe your style?
‘Reportage’ – I like to take natural, unobtrusive photographs capturing the event as it happens, with no staged poses. I find that this enables me to photograph those spontaneous moments, relatives and friends meeting for the first time after perhaps many years, laughter during the reception, a loving smile from grandma or proud father during the ceremony. I can’t call myself a true ‘documentary’ photographer (people) because I like to photograph all the details as well, shoes, favours, flowers etc. I will of course take a few group shots if my clients would like them, but I do point out that if it is a long list,there will be little time for natural pictures of guests at the champagne reception. I find that about 6 group photos is all that couples choose to put in an album afterwards
What is your favourite flower?
I love all flowers, but I suppose my favourites are freesias because of the smell. I like what I can only describe as cottage garden flowers – tea roses, delphiniums, scabious, peonies. I also like the darker calla lillies
The most important thing to know is the date of the wedding, to make sure that I am free as I am often booked up to 18 months in advance. I then like to know if the couple have looked at my website and viewed the example pictures in the gallery. It is really important that they like my style of photography. If a couple want very posed photographs I can recommend other excellent photographers who may be more suitable. I then ask if they would like to meet with me to view my work in more detail and most importantly see if they like me
One of the most crucial things about picking your wedding photographer is whether you get along with them. They will be at your wedding all day, often with the bride in the morning whilst getting ready, so it is very important that you feel comfortable with them around. Once a couple have booked me, I like to meet with them nearer to their wedding date at their venue to discuss their favourite places and take some photographs so that the bride and groom can get used to my camera and the person behind it. We also discuss other information such as all the timings for the day as well as any issues I may need to know about the family dynamic, so that I don’t embarrass anyone during the day especially whilst taking any group photos
How many weddings do you have per year? Would you do more than one per weekend?
I do sometimes cover two weddings over one weekend, but tend not to accept two where I will be there for 8 – 10 hours or more, this would be unfair to the second couple as I would be getting tired towards the end of the day
I prefer to have at least two days between. Too many weddings would also mean that I would have to spend less time on each one as I also have to fit in venue visits, meetings, portraits and everything else that you need to do to run a business
I give outline example collections on my website as a guide so that clients have some idea of prices but can create tailor made collections. Many of my couples start with the number of hours they would like me to be there on the day, this price also includes all edited images on a disk with a ‘License to Use’ enabling them to copy, print and share images with friends and family. About 80% of my clients also order an album or coffee table book either before or after their wedding, there is no time limit. I offer a range of different styles and number of pages, hopefully providing something for all tastes and budgets
Is there anyone in the wedding industry that you particular respect or admire or have been influenced by?
At the moment I particularly like the work of Binky Nixon. But there are many great photographers out there. For many years I have admired the work of the Masters – Bill Brandt, Dorothea Lange, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paul Strand, Brassai, to name but a few. The very first exhibition I saw was by Josef Koudelka, depressing, but it made we want to make photography my career
The fun part?
This has to be meeting lots of lovely people. Many guests come and chat to me. I am still in contact with most of my brides and love it when they ask me to take portraits of their babies
Creating beautiful timeless pictures of someone’s wedding day, in a professional, yet personal way, giving something that can be treasured forever and be passed down the generations.
What makes you laugh?
My son’s jokes. He is 9, so they are often very abstract!
So, there you go … we love Karen and she is very easy to work with. If time is slipping away and you are still looking for THE photographer for 2013 or beyond, she may just be THE one!