Lisa Devlin is a brighton based photographer, specialising in wedding photography amongst her other talents. She has won several awards including an award from the prestigious British Journal of Photography, becoming the first wedding photographer to receive this honour. Having started out as a music photographer she moved into the wedding photography market, drawn by a love of narrative imagery and capturing the emotion of the day.
We first found Lisa's work on rockmywedding, and instantly loved her images. She has a real talent for capturing a series which reflects all the details of the day, with beautiful use of colour and light to convey the mood. We asked Lisa to share with us some of her inspirations and her experiences of working as a professional photographer.
When did you first get into photography and why?
Growing up I always had cameras, from a disc one that had tiny negatives in a wheel to a Polaroid camera that made stickers. My parents bought me my first SLR for my 18th but I always struggled with the technical side of things. In my foundation course, I was pushed towards a fashion career but I pulled out of doing the degree to give myself time to think. I was obsessed with reading the Face magazine and discovered that there was a job called Fashion Styling and thought maybe that was for me - Kind of mixing photography and fashion, so I got myself some work experience with one of the magazine's stylists. At the studio it soon became obvious to me that I had no eye for styling. Out of the racks of gorgeous frocks and pieces from Westwood and Galliano, she would put this super skinny teenage model in just a see-through shirt or one shot was her naked apart from a strip of leather as a necklace. I thought it was bonkers but of course six months later every girl in London including me would not leave the house without the same leather necklace and that skinny teenage model was by then the most famous girl on the planet... Kate Moss. The shoot however was an epiphany for me as I got to see the photographer work and he was really doing nothing that I didn't understand. I came away super hyped and determined to make a career in photography.
Who or what inspires you photographically?
So many other photographers' work inspires me, including super new photographers who I always think have a fresh approach. I have always admired Anton Corbijn and I adore what Kirsty Mitchell is doing with her Wonderland series. I recently discovered Brooke Davis from Utah and think she is the most exciting wedding photographer right now. I am so into these two girls that I have arranged a five day event in January around getting them to speak about their work. (www.photographyfarm.co.uk/farm-week-23-27-january-post/)
How long have you been working commercially as a photographer?
Over twenty years - I was a music industry photographer for ten years and then switched to weddings after shooting my agent's wedding in 2000.
What challenges did you face setting up professionally?
The music industry is quite tough to break into but I did my time doing work experience, being friendly and enthusiastic until I picked up enough skills and contacts to set up as a freelance assistant. I tried to make the best of all the opportunities that came my way but it is true that you make a lot of your own luck. Within three years I was flying all over the world photographing the likes of Eric Clapton and The Manic Street Preachers. I found the challenges of breaking into weddings quite similar, making contacts, building a good reputation and being friendly and enthusiastic.
What aspects of the job do you enjoy most? Any you enjoy least?
I love that no two days are ever the same and I never get up in the morning thinking 'oh no I have to go to work' I love finding the narrative in all that I shoot, be it a wedding day or at the moment I am on a ten day shoot for a chef doing a recipe book. I am doing step-by-step shots, then the finished product but building the narrative around that by photographing ingredients or the food half eaten. Being self-employed can be tough at times, especially in a recession but I like to think I can rise to most challenges. When the wedding photography market started to get very oversaturated with newbies, I adapted my business slightly to offer training to them. This then became the Photography Farm (http://www.photographyfarm.co.uk) and this part of my business is taking some very exciting new directions.
What do you look for in a stand out image? What are you drawn to when photographing?
For me it's always about an honest narrative and putting a story into an image, which is probably why I love shooting weddings so much. I want to capture emotion and I know the power that image can have over time.
What do you find are the most important tools now for promoting your work? How important is social media for promoting your work, is it something you are very involved in?
Yes, for me all my potential clients are online, whether it is couples or photographers so I work on having a strong online presence. I have three separate social media streams... One for my photography, one for the Farm and one because I also sell Photoshop actions that I developed with fellow photographer Amy Bartlam. So that is three twitter and facebook accounts and three separate websites all with active busy blogs.