Rich Miller – A North Wales Wedding Photographer
This is me and my lot. My partner Jemma, my eldest daughter Maddie and our youngest daughter Eliza. Even being a professional photographer, I still can’t get both kids smiling and looking at the camera at the same time!
Anyway, I get asked a lot “How did you get into photography?” Or “When did you start?” As well as many other questions, so I thought I would do this little blog to answer some of those questions.
Basically, I am an award winning wedding photographer with zero qualifications to show for it!
Let’s start with – How did you get into Wedding Photography?
In all honesty, it wasn’t the plan. Back in 2012, I was working a late shift. Well what I thought was a late shift at the time. An 8pm finish now seems a breeze! But anyway, I was sat at my desk in work when I was a financial underwriter and started to look at wedding photographers (yes I should have been getting on with work!) I thought, how hard can it be? Press a button, done!
I then started to look at a DSLR camera. I had never touched any camera other than a point and click or mobile phone in my life at this point so in truth, I had no idea what I was looking at and what it all meant. But I settled on a Canon 550D with a 18-55mm lens. It cost me about £500 if I remember rightly.
That’s it! Let’s go and photograph some weddings and become a wedding photographer!
My first piece of advice…. DO NOT DO WHAT I DID! Get yourself involved with some established photographers first before you commit to anything. That £550 camera I bought, quickly escalated to about £20,000 worth of equipment over the last 9 years.
Did you learn editing or photography first?
Editing. I was browsing on Groupon one day, and seen a course reduced from about £300 to £29 which claimed to teach you essential Photoshop skills. I added it to my basket, and off to Runcorn I went for the day to learn Photoshop! Now I had some idea of how I could make my existing pictures look better.
Time to learn how to use the Canon 550D I had purchased next! Another Groupon deal in Chester which was also around £29 and taught you the basic functions of your DSLR camera. I had also learned the basics of photography with exposure and composition.
With the basic website I had built, I now needed some wedding photographs to advertise. I booked on to a course with Chris Chambers up in York where he taught his incredible photography skills but also gave us the opportunity to photograph 2 models posing as a bride and groom. These images would soon make it on my website.
Second piece of advice…DO NOT DO THIS! DO NOT USE POSED WORKSHOP IMAGES FOR YOUR PORTFOLIO. IT WORKED FOR ME BUT THERE ARE MUCH BETTER WAYS! Again, I recommend reaching out to professional photographers and asking if you can maybe shoot along side them in order to gain some experience and valuable portolio images.
How did you get your first wedding booking?
Now this is where I struck gold. My first booking didn’t come through the website or through any kind of social media.
I was studying photography at a night class in Deeside College and chance had it that I was sitting between 2 ladies who are now both very good friends. Emma, was soon to be married and asked me if I would like to be a 2nd shooter at her wedding, working alongside her main photographer Tanya Davies! If you ever get this opportunity, take it!! They are few and far between. Lisa was the other girl I was sat next to, and a couple of years down the line, I got to photograph her wedding also.
I shot alongside Tanya in 2013 at Emma’s wedding and gained so much from Tanya’s knowledge, skills and her approach. I also gained some valuable real wedding photographs which I could put on my website and social media.
Not long after that, I got my first wedding where I was the solo photographer. Friends were getting married and asked me if I wouldn’t mind taking photo’s on their wedding day, as well as being a guest. Again, even more images for me to start building my portfolio with.
What did you do before photography?
I did quite a few jobs, but most of these were all call centre based. The majority of my time was spent working for M&S Bank in Chester where I worked from 2009 until 2016 (with a brief break inbetween). I moved around the company quite a bit but spent most of my time there as an underwriter. In 2013, a job appeared on one of the job sites for an online photography tutor. This would be helping build online courses and providing support for students who are enrolled on the course. The ideal job I thought! I lasted 6 months..Let’s just say we weren’t the right fit.
Back to M&S I went, but this time via PPI where I was helping refunding customers who had been missold PPI over the years…Quite a lot by me sorry!
9 months in PPI and I was then back as an Underwriter. The slight issue was, my photography business was starting to take off a little. More and more weekend work coming in, but I was also having to work Saturday’s as my job as an Underwriter. Thankfully my managers were very accomodating and always tried to accomodate holiday requests or shift swaps so I could also photograph weddings.
When did you become a full time wedding photographer?
2016. After 3 years of photographing part time and being a weekend warrior, I made the leap in 2016. There were a few reasons for me doing this. My eldest daughter Maddie, was born in July and I thought that even I can earn just half my M&S salary by doing weddings, then I will be fine as we won’t need to pay for fulltime childcare. Thankfully, the business was growing rapidly at this point and I was photographing upwards of 40 weddings per year. Albeit at lower prices, but it meant I could be a wedding photographer on the weekends and dad during the week.
I was worried about the winter months. I was worried that I wouldn’t get any winter weddings. I decided I would still take the risk as should wedding bookings not come in, then I will surely be able to pick up some temporary work to bring in some money until wedding season began again in the Spring. Thankfully winter wedding bookings continued to come in so I didn’t need to find employment.
It’s funny how things turn out. If it wasn’t for me having a little skive in work back in 2012, and if it wasn’t for my friends getting married then I probably would have never gone down this path. But my very first wedding as a full time wedding photographer in 2016 was at Tower Hill Barns. Those of you who follow me will be sick of me talking about Tower Hill probably. But I was booked to photograph Paul and Faz’s wedding and this was my very first time at Tower Hill. Thankfully I made an impression and have since become one of their preferred photographers and have the privilage of working at their stunning venue a hell of a lot.
How are you coping since the COVID-19 restrictions?
Honestly, mostly frustrated but remaining positive. In 2020 I had 46 weddings booked. I got to shoot 4 of these. 2 of which were before lockdown. Most of these weddings have now moved to 2021 which means I am now due to shoot over 70 weddings this year! Gulp! And as for 2022, well I’m nearly fully booked. So I am remaining positive that once we are out of this storm, weddings will not be a forgotten memory.
In January, our youngest daughter Eliza entered the world. Lockdown has meant I have been able to spend even more time with Eliza, Jem and Maddie than I normally would have been able to.