We are big fans of ProPhotoNut, a blog run by photographer Damien Lovegrove, so we decided to hit him up for an interview. Damien keeps himself busy not only with his photography and the blog, but also a variety of training courses. Talk about covering all bases. He has been in the game for a long time, and has a lot to share. Read on for this inspirational interview, and be sure to check out this various websites, especially the blog.
Name: Damien Lovegrove
Hometown: Nailsea, near Bristol UK
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m 48 and I am a husband and father. I run my own business Lovegrove Consulting with my wife Julie and we have a small dedicated team delivering training and specialist lighting equipment to photographers. I also run Lovegrove Photography taking private and commercial photographic commissions. I also shoot stock for the Science Photo Library in London. I write ‘how to’ and art books plus creative features and camera reviews for photographic magazines.
How did you get started in photography?
I joined the BBC in Bristol aged 19 as a trainee cameraman. After three years of intensive training I graduated as a cameraman and then over the next nine years I trained to become a lighting cameraman then a lighting director. I left the BBC in 1998 to be a full time commercial stills photographer. I started shooting stock for the Science Photo Library when I was 21 and I’m still shooting for them today. In 2000 I teamed up with Julie to form Lovegrove Weddings and together we shot over 400 top weddings for discerning clients.
One camera and lens for the rest of your life…what would it be?
This is easy. The Fujifilm X100. It is simply a wonderful creative tool that makes SLRs redundant to me. I now have the Fujifilm X-Pro1 but although it takes interchangeable lenses it is only a shadow of it’s smaller brother the X100.
What’s the best thing about being a photographer? The worst?
The best thing about being a wedding photographer is the hugs and genuine appreciation from clients. The best thing about doing personal photography projects is the ability to let creativity and craft fuse in a way that excites an inner passion. Photography is a low paid occupation for many and unfortunately the industry is full of creatives with money problems and the stress that that causes.
If you could shoot anything/anywhere/anyone, what would it be?
Always people, I’m a people person. I love to bring my personality to a shoot and let that infuse with my subject. I can’t be merely an observer I need to take part, get involved and have wonderful memories of shared moments. Reportage is just not for me. So I guess my perfect client would be personable with a warm heart and a beautiful soul so that rules out many celebrities. Passion excites me and I see much of that in musicians and artists so I’m going to say line me up to shoot a country singer in Oklahoma sitting on his porch at sundown with an old banjo and no cares in the world.
What’s your most memorable shooting experience? Tell us about it.
Having dinner with Julie at a wedding in Ravello in Italy is right up there as a career moment. We were dining in a vaulted crypt with a spectacular view of the Med from our table for two. The band played for us and we had our own wine waiter. It was the most romantic setting at a fabulous wedding. I can’t remember taking pictures during dinner but I suppose I would have taken a few.
What’s your off-camera lighting philosophy?
Keep it simple. Stick to my core principles and systems. There is so much variety to be had from basic lighting systems that complicating things often reduces the effectiveness of the shot.
You run a popular blog. How does that fit into your shooting schedule?
I have three days a week for workshops, 1:1 training and shoot commissions, one day each week for office duties and business development and a day for creative writing. My blog fits into the creative writing day. I spend about four hours a week generating new material for the blog and four hours every fortnight to respond to each and every comment.
If you weren’t doing photography, what would you be doing?
I’d be an inventor and entrepreneur and I’d have photography as my hobby.
What would you rate as the biggest accomplishment in your career?
Ten years of wedding photography at a very high level with an army of raving fans as clients. Julie and I made it happen. We developed our shooting style and stuck to it. We got our heads down and became customer focused. We didn’t enter competitions, study the work of others, or aim to please other photographers. We just delivered excellence and consistency to our clients. It was tough with no summer holidays and working most weekends. But we earned great money and accomplished our career goals.
Words of advice for aspiring photographers?
Keep the day job as long as you can so that you can develop your style and product offerings without the stress of struggling to make a living. Get photography and business training as required. Then when you are ready to launch your business do so with gusto. Julie and I went into weddings with a great product and charged top dollar from day one. We had shot many weddings for less money to gain experience while I was still at the BBC so we ensured we were up to speed and professional when we launched ‘Lovegrove Weddings’.
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