Tell us about your Essex wedding photography business?
I was trained as a wedding photographer under Dennis Orchard, who is a Fellow of the Society of Wedding Professional Photography and recognised for his photos. I have been very lucky to have acquired his candid and intimate style, which gets me lots of praise!
I also do a lot of engagement shoots and family photography, portraits and groups, which of course are very much a part of wedding photography. If the newlyweds become pregnant, I then enjoy that journey with them and take photos of their newborns - I feel very privileged to be close to so many lovely clients. I'm am also very lucky to have trained as a drone pilot so I can capture group shots from the air, which is really quite exciting on the day!
What's your background and why did you launch your business?
My background wasn't in wedding photography, it was marketing and sales, but I loved my camera and travel photography. I started travelling around South East Asia and then I went on a one-year working holiday in Australia - but I was gone for 11 years! After two and a half years in Australia, I went to Oman in the Middle East and worked in real estate and events. I also did some freelance writing, I loved writing about people and telling their stories - and what is wedding photography if not telling the story of the wedding day? So my camera had a new meaning and people became my focus.
In 2012 I returned to the UK and immediately spoke with my old work colleague and boss, director of photography at the London College of Printing, Graham Diprose. I explained that I really wanted to be a photographer and I wanted to do weddings! He set me up with some of his buddies in different fields of photography so I could get an all-round taste - I fell in love with wedding photography! I underwent some intensive training, assisting Dennis at weddings and then second shooting. My first Job with Dennis was at the Cript of St Pauls Cathedral! I couldn't wait to set up my business and I have been fortunate enough to photograph some beautiful weddings at some gorgeous venues such as Raymond Blanc's Belmond Le Manor Aux Quat'Saisons. I joined the Society of Wedding Professional Photographers and continue to be a member.
What's your top tip for couples planning a wedding?
Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy it all, and that starts with the organisation. It may seem that you can organise a wedding in six months, and you can. But you will be rushed and who wants to rush all those lovely details and risk not remembering. To have your loved ones and friends sit and choose colours and fabrics and all the magic that starts way before the big day. Bask in all of it with reckless abandon and be selfish with yourself - you deserve it!
How have you adapted your business during the coronavirus pandemic?
This has been a tough time for businesses, but my heart goes out to all my couples who have had to postpone their weddings until further notice. When I sit with them and they tell me all their wonderful plans and even ask my opinion on colours, I can feel their overwhelming joy! To have that change must be heart wrenching. My couples have been wonderful and are just glad to have their health and that of their families - but how can they not be disappointed?
I soon turned my attention to fundraising. I have been doing drive-by family portraits for a spring 2020 memento. I have been doing them since before Easter and offering a bit of cheer to my local community who get a free family portrait at their doors. I have been asking for those that can, to donate to a local charity and we've raised hundreds now - I'm really proud of that!
Toni Howard Photography
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