Belle Amour asks… Katharine Peachey

Whether you are a bride or groom-to-be wanting beautiful pictures of your big day, an amateur photographer looking to learn more about wedding photography or somebody who just likes to read an interesting interview accompanied by pretty pictures, these posts are for you…

The interview

Introduction:
My name is Katharine Peachey so Peachey Photography isn’t a silly company name – it’s just a silly surname.

Location:
Greenwich, London

When and how did you fall in love with photography?
My dad is also a professional photographer, so you might say it’s in the blood. He gave me my 1st 35mm camera for my tenth birthday and since then I haven’t stopped taking photographs so I guess it’s been a life-long love affair.

Have you had any formal training?
I have learnt everything I know from my dad and from just from getting out there and doing it.

How would you describe your photography style?
My style is a combination of photo-journalism and creative portraiture, telling the story of each wedding day without being cheesy or clichéd. My approach is natural and relaxed and most importantly, unobtrusive. I don’t like to engineer anything.

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What inspires your work?
I love old films – all that black and white glamour, and stories that are full of passion and drama. I also really enjoy documentary photography; pictures that tell an entire story just in one frame. These are the elements I try to combine with my own photography

When did you first shoot a wedding?
My first was in 2005 and I was absolutely petrified! Despite feeling sick with nerves beforehand (I swear I must have been more nervous than the bride!) everything went smoothly and I really enjoyed it. Wedding photography fuses so many different disciplines – portraiture, fashion, architecture, food photography and photo-journalism – it gave me a taste of everything I loved.

Where in the UK are you based and how far would you travel to shoot a wedding?
I live in Greenwich in South-east London but frequently travel all over the UK. I go anywhere people want to celebrate, just so long as my expenses are covered (I only have a little car) and I have a bed for the night, if necessary.

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How many weddings do you shoot per year?
Around 40. My weekend is Monday and Tuesday!

What has been the most interesting wedding you’ve captured so far, and why?
I love to learn about different cultures and customs and I recently photographed a traditional Iraqi wedding where the men and women celebrated in the same hotel but totally separately from each other. The women arrived in traditional modest dress and headscarves but once they reached the women’s area they removed them to reveal sensational dresses beneath. They defined the word glamour – both young and old – they all looked sensational. The Groom joined the women briefly after dinner to dance and cut the cake and the ladies covered their heads and clothes before his entrance. After that he was sent back out to the men and the ladies removed their headscarves and robes again and danced all night. The party was a blast; the music was fantastic and everyone was clambering to dance with the Bride. Then at midnight, the men joined the women to dance and everyone drove the Bride and Groom to their hotel, cheering and beeping in convoy. With so much colour and energy the photographs were fantastic and it was a real experience to observe the practises and customs of another religion.

What would be your idea of a dream wedding to photograph?
My favourite weddings are those that really reflect the couple celebrating – that are personal and unique to them, whether it’s a fancy city hotel or a country pub. Although, maybe I’d make an exception for Lake Como!

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Has anything gone wrong when shooting a wedding? And if so, how did you cope with it?
I once photographed a wedding where the bride’s father collapsed during the evening reception. Her family decided not to tell her until after the party and whilst she was having her 1st dance he was being taken off in an ambulance! Thankfully he made a full recovery a few weeks later but I felt terrible photographing her enjoying herself whilst such a tragic event had occurred. Lots of things can happen that are outside your control at weddings or any event but I just try and stay composed and focused on the job at hand.

What camera(s) do you use for photographing weddings?
I use 2 Nikon D3S – they are amazing!

And your favourite lenses?
My 28-70mm zoom – it cost a fortune but worth every penny. I can capture really intimate moments from the other side of a room – people don’t even realise I’m there.

Do you use any lighting equipment?
No. I use only natural light and the light available at the venue, whether that’s candle light, the light from a fire or disco lights. The result is so much more colourful and atmospheric and the soft, warm tones are also very flattering. Plus it’s also a lot less intrusive, particularly on a dance floor or during those nerve-wracking speeches.

What advice would you give to wannabe wedding photographers?
Wedding photography is a huge responsibility and a great privilege so be prepared to take it seriously. It’s also a tough job physically – lugging camera bags around all day and holding your camera almost permanently to your eye can take its toll on your back and neck so get to know a good masseur!

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What has been your proudest moment as a photographer?
Whenever my clients come back to me, gushing about their photographs, that always makes me proud of my work. Knowing I’ve done a really good job and documented a little part of their history which becomes a family heirloom is a fantastic feeling.

Out of all the photographs you have ever taken, which is your favourite and why?
That’s a tough one! I have narrowed it down to two. The first is of a little girl – I love the colours and her expression, she’s lost in thought. She was the only child at the wedding so she pretty much played on her own all day.
The second is a row of people at a wedding reception and there’s so much going on, even though they are just standing and sitting around.

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If you could capture anybody or anything on camera what would it be?
My mum. She was absolutely beautiful and had real presence and style. Sadly, she died last year and I never got to officially take her portrait as I would have liked. Although I don’t think she would’ve minded so much – living with me and my dad I think she was a bit sick of cameras!

Just so we can find out a bit more about the person behind the lens, could you tell me 5 things you like that are completely unrelated to photography?

  • I love food – cooking and eating it!
  • And to counterbalance my gluttony I also love cycling. I have a vintage racer which I go out on whenever I can but expensive cameras and bicycles in London don’t mix so I don’t ride it as often as I’d like.
  • I love the cinema and watching films – yes, those old movies with Hayworth and Hepburn and all those fantastic feisty females telling the boys what’s what!
  • I love the sea – being by it and in it.
  • Totally embarrassing but I love jigsaws. Yes, I am a granny at heart. Although I never finish them – does that make me slightly less sad? Probably not.

And 5 things you dislike?

  • Not having enough sleep – anything less than 8 hours and I am a grumpbag.
  • Summer pudding – soggy bread and berries – how could you?
  • Cheesy wedding photography, there is still so much crap out there giving some of us a bad name.
  • Rupert Murdoch – not a nice man.
  • My hair – it’s a mane of frizz. I try to show it who’s boss but it always gets the better of me.

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What are your aspirations for the future, in photography or otherwise?
I am pretty happy where I am right now. I just want to keep taking photographs that are full of emotion and impact and wonderful memories to treasure…. Although, one day, I wouldn’t mind that place by Lake Como too!

Debs & Katharine

Photographer Details:
Peachey Photography website
Peachey Photography blog
Contact Katharine
Phone: 07816 026792

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