This week we are excited to share with you more about one of our favourite Australian based Photographers, Laura Mahony. We had the privilege of working with Laura back in 2015 in the one of our all-time favourite locations, in the stunning town of Warrnambool, South West of Victoria.
We asked Laura to tell us a bit more about what inspires her and how she got into this creative industry. Laura gives us an insight into self-employment, investing in your craft and offers some of her beautiful industry advice.
Laura, can you please tell us a bit about what you do, your style and your passions?
"I’m a wedding and elopement photographer based in South West Victoria, Australia. I love creating a timeless collection of natural and romantic wedding photographs for my clients. My approach is quiet, I like to capture real moments as well as the beautiful shots."
Can you tell us about how you started as a photographer and the story behind taking the leap into self-employment?
"I had been side-hustling and building a wedding photography portfolio for a while before we made the move from Melbourne back to our hometown on the coast. After the move I held a stall at the local bridal expo, met some other cool new wedding creatives and had the opportunity to collaborate on a bridal shoot. We did this in the off season and put together a portfolio of photos we could all use for marketing on social media and our own websites. This created interest and bookings, and some clients actually booked a few vendors from that collab. From here my portfolio grew, recommendations from other vendor friends, word of mouth from clients and in time my bookings also increased."
What has been one of your biggest ‘ah-ha’ moments in business?
"It’s all about your clients, so ensuring their best possible experience from educating about time and light for photos, through to printing options once their collection has been delivered is so important. If they love their photos and experience with you, they will tell all their friends and family."
What are some of the most rewarding moments you see as a Photographer?
"A short time after sending off a collection, finding a thank you card in the mail box from my clients with such kind and grateful words is truly rewarding. Even more special is receiving an email from their parents thanking me for photographing their children’s wedding and providing precious tangible family memories for them. It’s always such an honour to be invited into couple’s lives for one day to capture their nuptials and memories for a lifetime."
Let’s be honest, for anyone starting out in business or in a creative field it can take a lot of hard work, motivation and dedication. If you could give yourself advice 5 years ago, what would it be?
"Stay true to your style. It’s good to experiment, push boundaries and grow within your work, but keep being the best version of you. Also, spend most of your time doing what you’re good at – taking photos, and outsource what you’re not so great at – for me that is the book keeping!"
What is one of the greatest lessons you have learnt while being in a creative business?
"Create a great experience for your clients, and they will talk about your business to their family and friends. Word of mouth is the best form of marketing in creative business. And you can always learn more, whether it’s a different way of editing or shooting there’s room for growth. Make time each year to invest in bettering your craft."
How do you help keep a good work life balance?
"I think I’m always working towards this, and it can be especially hard during the months of October through April, when most of our weddings happen here in Victoria. If I have more than 4 weddings in a month, I’ll outsource the editing to stay on track so I can deliver to my clients within 8 weeks. I work from home, so I always plan my day to leave my office by 6pm so I can spend the evenings with my husband. We live on the same street as my Dad, so during the week I walk my dog to his house for lunch. I also keep Sundays free from work for family and friends."
What is your best piece of wedding planning advice you would give a couple?
"Do whatever you like, it’s your wedding! If you can’t see yourselves cutting the cake and dancing in front of everyone, give it a miss. If you’d like to see each other before the ceremony to calm your nerves, then a first look is an excellent idea. If you’d prefer a lunch time wedding, go for it. If you’d prefer to elope, I’d highly recommend it!
When we were planning our wedding, each time I thought about the ceremony, or the many guests I felt so nervous. And the more we spoke about eloping the more excited we both become about getting married.. I can’t recommend eloping enough!"
What would be one of your favourite locations/destinations to photograph?
"I feel most at home by the ocean, so shooting on the coast is always a favourite if my couples are beach lovers. The cliffs of Warrnambool, volcanic stones of Port Fairy or just on the sand at the beach are my go-to. I also loved shooting in the Red Woods Forest on the Great Ocean Road, it was an amazing experience capturing my client’s nuptials in amongst the tall trees and nature. After we eloped in Queenstown, I adored the experience so much that I’d love to return and capture a ceremony upon one of the mountains. It’s definitely on my bucket list for must-shoot places."
Photographing a wedding can mean many hours on the wedding day itself, being on your feet a lot and having short breaks. How do you prepare yourself for a huge, emotionally driven day?
"Wedding days are always emotional, and I’m usually in tears at some point behind my camera whether it’s a special tribute earlier in the day, the vows or the speeches. I guess I’m always prepared with tissues!I pack snacks, lollies, hydralyte, and clothes for all 4 seasons (a necessity here in South West Victoria). I also walk a lot during the week because this helps me prepare for running around for about 9 hours with 6 kg of camera gear strapped to me!"
What advice or words of wisdom could you give to someone wanting to get into the wedding industry?
"I think my best advice is to start hanging out at weddings! You’ll soon find what you want to do, if you don’t know already. If you have some skills, reach out to some vendors and see if they’ll take you on. Alternatively you could ask to assist wedding photographers, you don’t need any experience to watch and learn, and they’ll be so grateful for someone to carry their bag and keep them company – I know I am!"