Jeremy Standley is a destination wedding photographer based in Spain with over 300 weddings in a dozen countries and numerous industry awards. We caught up with him for a candid chat about life and his career in the photography industry.
How old were you and what first inspired you to become a photographer? I know your mother was a photographer for Vogue – could you elaborate?
I remember winning a photography competition when I was about 11 – the photo was of an apple, the other kids at school accused me of cheating and having my Mum help me….as if. My Dad was a solicitor and I didn’t fancy that much as a career. I sort of fell into photography via working on cruise ships – not the most creative of work, but it certainly taught me many people skills which are very important in my line of work. When I first started in wedding photography things like “blogs” were still relatively unheard of and the styles of work were much more traditional than these days.
Has your career to date always been in the field of photography?
For the last 25 years, I have worked in photographic studios in Norwich UK, studios in the Sultanate of Oman and spent many years working with Princess Cruises onboard as a photographer and later as fleet digital technology manager. I also used to sell encyclopedias to the US military and have worked in more than one fish and chip shop (what can I say? I had a talent).
Why wedding photography? Weddings can be incredibly stressful events at the best of times – is this part of the attraction for you as a photographer?
I often ask myself that very question… It can be quite stressful but over the years, experience counts for a lot and you can avoid most stressful situations with planning and a bit of a 6th sense. I tend to try and chat a lot with my couples prior to the wedding which really helps. The pressure comes in making sure I “nail it” every time, my clients have high expectations, and with that always comes some pressure.
You describe your style as “creative with a documentary approach” – Who and/or what would you say were the primary influences behind that?
That’s a tough one but would say it has a combination of Robert Capa, Cartier Bresson and James Nachtwey whose work is really incredible.
Have you ventured towards/into other styles of photography during your career?
I have indeed, the results have been better with some than others of course. I have shot fashion and plenty of “social photography” as it tends to be referred to. I think it’s very important for photographers to shoot a variety of subjects, especially wedding photographers.
For the technically minded – What equipment do you use?
I use 2 Nikon D4 cameras with fixed prime lenses and a few other gadgets and gizmos, all of which are light, small and unobtrusive (unlike me).
How regularly do you find yourself upgrading/changing equipment as the digital photography industry innovates creating new tools and products?
Most wedding photographers spend the first several years of their careers buying anything and everything and then the next several years figuring out how to carry as little as possible and have draws full of “stuff” they wonder why they purchased. It’s an expensive business, computers I upgrade every 5 years and about the same with cameras.
Having documented weddings in so many countries and venues over the years – which is the top location/venue for you as a photographer and why?
Another tough one, each area has so many different locations with such variety, I love working locally along the Costa del Sol but I’m a big fan of working in Granada, Barcelona and Mallorca, I could never name a favourite venue, there are just far too many to choose from. I have been to some “amazing” venues that just don’t really work for weddings, and other venues you probably wouldn’t go to on holiday but are outstanding for weddings.
Beyond the photography itself, what business aspects do you find most challenging as a professional photographer?
Marketing and SEO (search engine optimisation) is always challenging and it’s an ever-changing landscape in the online world.
Have you had any “scary” moments on a shoot?
Yes – and they always seem to involve horses and/or carriages! I did have a “life flashing before you” moment a couple of years ago – I was sat in the front of a moving horse and carriage with the bride and her father in the back. The journey took us up a very steep hill paved with cobbles, naturally, I reach out and attempt to steady myself by holding onto the backrest of the front seat – which I quickly discovered was not secure at all as it came off in my hand. Fortunately, I somehow regained my balance and narrowly avoided being trampled by horses or ending up under the carriage!
What tips would you offer to aspiring photographers looking to make a career in the industry? Is it enough to just be able to take good pictures? Or is processing skill/ability a major part of a successful career too?
It requires a much wider skill set than it’s given credit for. Processing is important but I think people skills and organisational skills are also very important, along with IT knowledge and a good sense for getting in the right place at the right time to get the shots you want.
Who would you have photograph your own wedding?
The immediate answer to that would be a selfie-stick and an iPhone – in all honesty, though whilst I would of course use a professional photographer – if I were to name names I would never hear the end of it from other photographers about why I did or didn’t choose them.
The picture of yourself at the top of the interview – what were you doing and where was it taken?
That was taken on a trip to Jodhpur in Rajasthan India during the Holi Festival – a fantastic place and experience.
Jeremy can be contacted through his website jeremystandley.com which caters for all types of weddings from Arabian to Zoroastrian.