Steve sat down with a nice cup of tea and a plate of Custard Creams to chat with the utterly fabulous Manchester-based wedding photographer Ayesha Rahman.
Ayesha talks about her own wedding in New York City just a couple of months ago, her approach to destination weddings and why the only photograph she has of her dad is the inspiration behind everything she does.
1) A little birdie tells me you were recently married yourself (well, it wasn’t actually a birdie, I was just Facebook stalking you and saw the photos). Congratulations! How cool was it to get married in New York City? Tell us more.
Ahh that’s lovely, thank you so much. I love that you’ve been Facebook stalking me too! It’s hard to put into words how cool New York was as the backdrop for our celebrations. It’s pretty much my favourite city in the world so when we were thinking about where to get married and once we’d ruled out the UK it was a bit of a no brainer to do it there. The most important consideration for us was to do something true to us and not get carried away with planning a day focused on trivial things, especially given I work in the wedding industry making it super easy to get distracted. We went with a low key, intimate day with a handful of friends and it literally was the most incredible day. From nervously waiting for our ticket number to come up at City Hall, getting officially married in under a minute flat, grabbing a pretzel for our walk to Brooklyn Bridge for photos, an impromptu dance off with a street dancer, subway fun, enjoying the most beautiful and personal ceremony/blessing, enjoying cocktails at the boathouse to eating a delicious dinner with our friends in a fabulous restaurant. It made a nice change to be on the other side of the camera, it was everything and more than we ever hoped it would be!
2) Tell us about your journey, how did you get into wedding photography? Was it accidental (like me) or was it something you actively worked towards?
Pretty similar to you really in that I fell into it by accident. I got a fancy pants camera one Christmas and I took it with me on a trip to India. When I checked out my images I was annoyed that I could have done much better so I booked myself on a day course to learn how to use my camera manually. I remember thinking I’d never understand the settings as I’m not that technical, but here I am. Starting off shooting a friend of a friends wedding, I did a full season of weddings in my first year whilst not knowing anyone in the industry. That was tough but then I discovered workshops which opened doors to a whole new world of friends, support and advice which has been invaluable over the years. Since then I identify my areas of personal development and choose 1 or 2 things to focus on each year.
3) I recently attended one of the Shoot Joy workshops you ran with Cassandra Lane, the workshop was pitched to photographers at various levels within their career, I found it immensely informative. What would be your number one bit of advice to anyone thinking about dipping their toes into the world of wedding photography?
I’m glad you enjoyed and found it useful Steve, it was lovely to have you along. I’d honestly say to anyone thinking about wedding photography as a career, just do it! It really is an unbelievably satisfying career. I know I’m not saving lives or anything as crucial as that but to create imagery that provides years of fulfilment and joy to a couple and their families is a feeling that needs to be bottled and sold! I’d recommend shooting as much as you can, second shoot to build your portfolio, attend workshops that are going to expand your knowledge as well as your network of friends/colleagues, write a business plan, think ahead to what you want to achieve, stick to your own style, shoot for your couples not for other photographers, be nice and enjoy it.
4) I love the story on your website home page about how your dad is the inspiration and drive behind everything you do. It kind of hits home how important photographs are, particularly as you say this is the only photo you have of him.
Yes I lost my dad when I was a young girl so not having him with me throughout my life has been tough at times. Knowing how precious this one photograph I have of him is to me I have this deep desire to create meaningful, heartfelt images at all of my weddings. You never know when a single image that might not mean much at the time can ultimately mean the world to someone. I love the connections people have and I adore observing relationships. I guess coming from a complicated family background makes me crave those relationships that I see in front of me and that’s why I naturally veer towards them in my work.
5) Looking through your portfolio, I see you’ve photographed weddings in some pretty diverse locations all over the world. Do you have any advice for those looking to secure more destination weddings?
I’ve been lucky enough to shoot in some wonderful locations and combine two of my passions of travel and photography. But destination weddings aren’t always as glamorous as they sound. You need to be super organised, generally need to be confident driving abroad, can cope working in different weather conditions (and don’t mind a mosquito bite or 20!) and be prepared to stay either side of the wedding day. For me, once I had one under my belt I made sure I showcased those images and made it clear that I wanted more destination work. Basically show more of what you want to be shooting and it seems to work for me.
6) Talk us through your general approach to a wedding. You’ve recently made the switch to a mirrorless system I believe? Has that changed the way you work?
I want to do the best job I can at every single wedding. I make sure I’m organised, caring and friendly throughout the whole day. I also have several aims beforehand. Firstly to give them visually stunning images, a no brainer right… But how? I challenge myself at each wedding. I give myself something to work on. Whether that’s playing around with shadows, capturing unusual compositions from below/above, getting closer, getting creative with a particular lens. Whatever it might be, there’s something I challenge myself with and it makes me work harder to create something different. Switching to a mirrorless system has had its benefits for sure. Because they’re smaller I feel I can get even closer to a moment without disturbing the scene more so than I ever could before. It’s also great to see exactly what a shot is going to look like in terms of light before you take it. I’ve certainly seen a change in my work (and my poor back) since the switch.
7) Which other photographers do you admire? It doesn’t have to be a wedding photographer, we’re always looking for new inspiration, so tell us who makes you giddy.
Ooh what a tough question! I’m in awe at how many talented photographers there are within our industry, it’s wonderful to see! Personally I prefer to be inspired from other sources. I watch a lot of films, I like nature programmes, I love buying music especially vinyl with cool sleeves, I travel a lot, I enjoy shooting for me personally which is mainly travel and street photography so these aspects certainly creep into my work. I also love fashion and tend to have a nice glossy magazine like Vogue lying around which is also a great source of inspiration. If I had to pick out one name though I’d say Martin Parr. His work is something I feel a real connection to. It was also great to meet him last year and get him to take a selfie of us which was actually out of focus.
Hugs and kisses to Ayesha for taking the time out to chat. Check out more of her work: