Fifteen years ago today, I photographed my first paid wedding. Photographing for friends for free was great but on the 16th September 1995, clients paid me to photograph their wedding. Fifteen years is a major birthday and something to celebrate. Way back on that day, Paul Keating was PM, Seal’s ‘Kiss from a Rose’ was Number One in the Charts and petrol was just 65.9c per litre.

Comparing then to now, sharing some memories and random facts seems apt on a day like today.

A photo from my first paid wedding.

On becoming a full time professional photographer

I managed to develop my photography and business skills pretty quickly. I soon left my day job as a management consultant and became a full time professional photographer. A willingness to learn, determination and self belief combined to help me on my journey.

Film cameras always ran out of film

Film. The stuff you put in a camera that runs out after 36 shots. These days with memory cards that store hundreds of images, the idea of running out of film after 36 shots is absurd. You had to time your film changes during the ceremony, you had to time it right to have enough film for the first kiss. Changing a roll of film in an instant was an essential skill.

Hail manual exposure

I soon learnt that my lab preferred nice consistent exposures and the only way to do this was to shoot manual. Now all these years later, I still shoot manual and love it. The ultimate in control.

Masking negatives on a Sunday became ftp uploading during the week

We once masked negatives and filled out order forms to order prints. The lab staff would print the photos to match our colour preferences. Drop off  Monday, collect Friday was the routine. Now all colour work is done in-house, some prints are printed in-house and others are uploaded to the lab then couriered out.

I have bought more computers than I care to admit

The digital world has required a massive investment in technology which needs constant updating. I still have the pen I used to fill out the lab order forms in 1995, the PC  I used then is a boat anchor somewhere. My computer guy has three Porsches in his garage… I reckon I own one of them.

The internet has revolutionised business life

When we first started, we had no internet. When dial-up arrived, we were excited to see a web page download in about the time it would take to make a cup of coffee. The broadband world we live in now is brilliant.

How many photos do I take at wedding?

In 1995, I would shoot about 5-6 rolls of film at a wedding, about 180 – 216 photos. In the last days of film, I averaged 16 rolls of film, about 576 frames. Today with digital, I shoot about 1000 – 1500 images depending on the scale of the day. From these I choose the best images for my clients, leaving out the blinks, half blinks and less perfect images. Clients get perfect images.

My camera purchases; film bodies became digital bodies

My first wedding was shot on a then new Canon EOS1n. Beautiful to hold, solid, fast, an awesome camera. Not long after the EOS 3 with eye control was released, I bought one and it was a game changer. Brilliant, I even got contact lenses to use the eye control focus; it revolutionized photography for me and enabled me to capture the candid images I loved. I used these cameras for about 9 years.

Since the arrival of digital, every 18 months or so you buy a new higher spec camera…

The album design processes is no longer a game of twister

Imagine crawling around on the floor looking at prints on cards simulating an album. This is what we did to design albums before album design software came along. Clients now see a virtual album with the album design software we use. Brilliant. This makes life easier for the album manufacturer as well, in the early days, album layouts were drawn on an order from and the manufacturer would do their best to interpret your diagrams. Computer ordering has removed all the guesswork.

Album materials are now so much better

The album materials available today are so much better. My first album was a pin hinge album with gold or blind embossing on the mats. Today’s albums are so flexible in their design and look really simple and elegant.

Putting signage on our studio was a special feeling

In 2004, we moved our studio to a commercial property at 183-185 Old Cleveland Road Coorparoo. Four months of builders renovation and our studio/gallery was created, it is such a wonderful space to work and share the love of photography with our clients. Putting our Reyment Photographics name up for all to see as they drive by was very humbling.

Employing fabulous staff is a joy

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to meet and employ some wonderful staff. Damien Bredberg, Stacey Hall, Narlea Lentfer, Michelle Zagar and Melinda Comerford are just some of the talented people I have had the pleasure of working with. Thank you to you all for sharing the journey with me.

The photography community has helped me so much

The photography community is so sharing and nurturing. I have made many friends through the AIPP and PPAQ.  Sharing techniques, being inspired by other photographers, swapping stories over a glass of red wine is something I value greatly.

Best part of being a wedding photographer

Meeting so many wonderful clients and guests at weddings and capturing images to tell their story. Joy.

Worst part of being a wedding photographer

Missing out on family moments on weekends, especially with your kids.

Scariest moment on a wedding day

Almost getting t-boned by a 4WD running a red light with the bride and groom following in the car behind. At the time, I owned an HSV GTO. A dramatic swerve and my fabulous brakes brought me to a stop. Thank you Holden Special Vehicles, your car saved my bacon. At the next location stop, the bride and groom rushed up and asked if I was OK. Thanks guys.

Stupid Equipment Moment

Opening the back of a camera with film in it and wondering why I was seeing film. Had intended to take the body cap off and put a lens on. A quick reshoot of last frames, no worries.

Photographers who have inspired me

The French masters Henry Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau and Australia’s own David Oliver. These guys ability to see moments and record life is amazing. I saw a Doisneau exhibition in Milan, and a Bresson exhibition in Avignon, France. Wow.  Visiting David Oliver in his Sydney studio and seeing his gallery of works was an inspiration.

Favourite wedding moment

We are at Corpus Christie at Nundah, the bride and groom are walking down the aisle as they leave the church, the brides father and his choir companions are singing in Italian. Not a dry eye in the house, I was crying too, so glad for auto focus.

Hottest wedding day

21st February 2004. Andrew and Kate were getting married at Brisbane Grammar. It was a ridiculous 43 degrees in Brisbane with humidity to match. This photo is of Andrew mopping his brow just before the ceremony. Normally, a hanky will suffice. Not this day!

Smallest wedding

Just 8 guests including the bride and groom. Ultimate intimate.

What do I eat on the morning of a wedding?

A wedding day is a long day and I have a routine, a bit like a footy player has on match day. I make a frittata to get me through. My favourite recipe combines onion, potato, chorizo, capsicum, 4 eggs and cheese. Delicious, solid and gets me through 10 hours on the job.

A Funny Wedding Story

Brides Brother asked by bride to put esky of Moet, blue cheese, crackers, beer, glasses etc for bridal party to enjoy in the Holden Statesman outside Albert Street Uniting Church. He does. Driver opens boot at first location, no esky. Bride rings brother, “I ask you to do one job for my wedding and you can’t even fill an esky”. He replies “But I did!” It seems he put the esky in the car for the previous wedding!

Proudest Personal Photographic Achievement

Winning the 2010 Epson AIPP Queensland Documentary Photographer of the Year, achieving my Master of Photography.

Greatest life experience

Apart from getting married to a lovely lady and being a dad to a wonderful son, living as a local with my family in Europe throughout 2009 is a life experience I will treasure always. We home exchanged for the whole year and our unique story has been published in ABC Life Etc magazine and Notebook Magazine.

It all started with a dream which became a vision which became a plan which became a reality. Today looking back, I am amazed at how much I have learnt about photography, people and myself.

I have learnt that moments in life are so precious and are to be cherished. Over the years, I have been privileged to witness and document with my camera so many moments in time.

What a ride it has been. So much change, challenge, joy and opportunity. Bring on the next 15 years, I’m ready!