I must admit I’m very excited about today’s expert interview! Mainly because our interviewee today had a very exciting week last week! Kelly Tunney is a Canberra based photographer who travels internationally to shoot weddings. Last week at the AIPP (Australian Institute of Professional Photography) Kelly was awarded ACT Professional Photographer of the Year, ACT Wedding Photographer of the Year, ACT Creative Photographer of the Year, ACT Wedding Album of the Year (1st and second place! and ACT Highest Scoring Print. Which makes her not only Canberra’s hottest photographer right now, but also someone who I would love to get to know better to understand why she sees the world the way she does!
What was the catalyst for starting your photography business?
I actually studied photography and received a degree in Arts + Photography. Following my degree, I got married and started a family, during which I didn’t really prioritise photography much at all… I got a job working in the public service (as most Canberrans do) and always thought of getting back into the creative side that I was craving so much. I photographed a friend of a friend’s wedding (all on film, as the medium was at the time, hand-retouching all the images!) and that experience slowly catapulted into another wedding, which then lead to another wedding. It wasn’t until I realized one day that I was photographing 35+ weddings a year that I knew I could sustain this as a “real” business, and over 500 weddings later, here I am!
What is your biz philosophy?
Connection and relationship building. From the very beginning I’ve found that the more I was able to connect with my brides and grooms and get to know them and their story, the better I was at telling their story. This philosophy has been with me from the start and I still maintain it to be the most important element of my business.
How would you describe your photography style?
I think it really has a lot to do with my business philosophy in that I like to make sure that the connection between the couple as well as the connections I build with them come through in the images that I capture. And at the risk of sounding cliché, I’d describe my style as modern with a twist of a differing perspective.
How do you find that unique story each bride and groom have?
It’s impossible to not find the unique story, as each bride and groom truly do have a unique story! I know that sounds like such a cop-out answer, but my couples really do share the most interesting stories and it’s hard not to take that into consideration when I photograph them.
What do you look to for inspiration?
Books, magazines, art galleries, work of colleagues close to me, brainstorming sessions with friends, travel, everywhere really!
A lot of your shots seem casual and relaxed. How do you encourage a bride/groom to feel relaxed about having their photo taken?
Again this goes back to the relationship building that I take very seriously. I think without this pivotal ingredient, you will have brides and grooms that are more uncomfortable in front of the lens and that will really be evident in the photos you take. Even from the very first client meeting we have, every minute is spent carefully getting to know them and understanding who they are as an individual and as a couple. I have folders that I keep, writing notes down after the meeting that serve to help me remember these little tidbits and unique features about them, and all of that help me on their wedding day in bringing out that “comfort” factor.
What sets you apart from others?
I’m not sure if I am really that different from others; it’s hard to really view myself as that when I find so much inspiration from other people and my surrounding environment… that’s a tough question to answer!
How do you keep on learning?
I find myself constantly in need of inspiration. I think that’s a big factor in pushing myself and continuing to feel creative. Creativity is a muscle that you have to train; you can’t just let it sit and expect to get stronger on its own. And because I firmly believe that, I keep myself on my toes when new magazines come out, books both related and unrelated to photography, and make sure I make time to shoot for myself. I think it’s so important to keep educating yourself and arming yourself with knowledge and inspiration.
How do you keep your product fresh and different?
(much like above)
What is in the future for Kelly Tunney Photographer?
In my immediate future, I’m delving a bit more in the art world as I have my first art photography exhibition in New York City this June (I’m very excited about this one actually!). I’d like to explore this genre a bit more but I want it to be as organic a process as possible. I’ve found that with most business decisions in my life, things have happened on their own (+ hard work) rather than things happening because I force it to. I’m hoping the same will happen with me and gallery exhibits!
What do you love about Australian brides?
I love how open they are to new ideas and how they approach their weddings. I love how they lean against the more traditional ways of doing things, and how they challenge the status quo of the wedding industry!
What is your number one tip for brides?
Relax and enjoy the day.
Do you travel anywhere in Australia to do a wedding shoot?
Yes, definitely! I love traveling and so far have traveled to several weddings overseas.