What Would They Know? Cassie Sullivan of Photography with Cassie

by | Photography Wisdom, What Would They Know?, Wisdom


Polka Dot Bride


Although Cassie of Photography with Cassie now calls Melbourne home, she spends much of her time in Tasmania and at the other end of our vast continent, Broome. ‘Gentle honesty’ best describes her  photography style, and she tells stories using the seemingly ordinary details of life, as well as majestic landscapes to surround the couple in the image. As she says, “Photography is me. It is my adventure, my confidence and my haven.” And you can see that from her gorgeous images. Here’s her story….

How did you get into photography? Have you always been creative?

I first got into photography when I was about 20 but not seriously until I was 25, when I realised that I wanted, no, NEEDED to have my own business.  Photography was a creative calling that just made sense to me for many reasons. I knew it would allow me to make people happy, which is really important to me and that it would allow me to grow in myself and nourish my desire to create my own business.
I have always used words as an outlet for my creativity. When I first discovered photography I moved away from that. I’m now beginning to pull both my love of writing and photography together with projects such as my 365story – http://instagram.com/photographywithcassie on Instagram.

Do you have a mentor/mentors?

I have many unofficial mentors, from photography to business to life. I’m lucky and grateful to have so many friends who are not only incredible photographers but also incredibly great people. The being an incredible person matters more to me. Photography I can learn from tutorials, schooling and workshops, only my friends and family can teach me about life. And the more I learn about life, the better my photography becomes.

You have a love for Tasmania. What is your link to this lovely piece of Australia?

I grew up in the wonderful place that is Tassie and I now find myself returning there for at least half the year. Tassie has such a pull on my emotions, it has shaped me into the person I am and its beauty and people call me back. It’s an interesting place, full of friendly beautiful people and stunning landscapes. What more could you want?

Why do you love shooting weddings there?

One is the people, they are real and friendly and honest, that is a beautiful thing to photograph. More than anything I strive for a gentle honesty in my photographs and that is easy to find in Tasmanian souls and those drawn to Tasmania and any small island really.
Two would have to be the landscape. It’s like nowhere else in Australia. The variety of forests, beaches, fields, mountains etc is a photographer’s playground and the best setting for a wedding.

What do you try to achieve with your photographing of a wedding? 

There’s a few things that couples say to me on and after a wedding day that make my heart warm. One is ‘That was really fun, I was super nervous to have my portraits taken but that was really great’, I know I’m doing the right thing and that my personality works really well in working with the couple to get relaxed, gentle, unobtrusive shots that really show the connection between the couple. Another is “I didn’t even know you took half those photos!” I love this, I tend to shoot in stealth mode a bit throughout the day and capture all aspects of the day, some things the bride and groom may not get a chance to notice or may have forgotten in all the hoopla of their day. And most importantly for me now, more and more my couples are noticing my storytelling ability and really appreciating that, ‘we’ve put so much into this wedding and you’ve really told our story”.  This love of the way I tell a couple’s story is what I strive for.

Do you plan your shots accordingly?

I plan on making the best of every single situation I find myself in on a wedding day. Wedding days are full of excitement and unexpected adventures and so I find going with the flow is my very best personality trait. I plan as much as I can so that I’m prepared for anything, after all that planning the wedding day arrives and all you have left is to go with the flow. I would also give this advice to couples over and over again. Do everything you can to plan your day, on the actual day, relax into it, enjoy it in every way you can.

How do you achieve those relaxed shots? How do you help the bridal party to relax (so that you can achieve those shots?)

I feed off a bridal party’s energy. I work in with them casually throughout the day. In the getting ready shots I blend in, I chat, I talk to them about how they’re feeling, I just treat them like the new friends they are. By the time portraits come around they don’t see me as a scary photographer, just a normal person. That being said, always in the front of my mind is that these guys are great friends, they will react more comfortably and naturally with each other than they ever will with me, so I photograph real interaction with each other rather than staged ‘moments’.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of wedding photography?

Meeting clients who trust my creative ability and when I show them the images from their day are so grateful that they did.

You seem to have a knack of capturing a ‘rawness’ of emotion in your images – almost ‘a fly on the wall’ quality – is this a handy trait to possess as a photographer?

This comes from being intrinsically me, and the more I find confidence in myself the better my photography is becoming. I’m quiet and honest by nature, I used to worry that I wasn’t ‘outgoing’ enough to be a wedding photographer but actually, it’s the opposite. Being quiet lets me blend into spaces and get the most natural shots, being honest helps people feel like they don’t have to put on a show for me, that’s where the rawness comes in. I will reflect in my photos who you are as a couple, because I love who you are and I don’t want you to pose as someone else.

How does the landscape and the light inform your photography?

I feel connected to both, I think as someone who grew up in small towns I will always connect open air landscapes with feelings of freedom and adventure. Light is integral in making an OK shot an incredible shot and I feel it’s my mission as a photographer to always seek out the best light. It’s a learning process, seeing light and the light changes so incredibly much from location to location. Us photographers get excited by strange things like light 😉

What does a typical working day look for you?

I’m a late starter, late nighter. Usually I even set no alarm on weekdays, which is seriously one of my most favourite things about having my own business. I’ll ease on into the day by checking emails and making orders, booking flights and just generally sorting life. I’ll spend a good chunk of my afternoon editing images and designing albums and the rest of the day is a mix of dreaming and marketing and planning the future.  I currently work at home but I have big dreams for creating a co-working space for creatives. Working at home can be an isolating business. I want to create more connections.

What is the best piece of advice you have received – business or otherwise?

Be yourself. I’ve always been myself and done things my own way but it’s only now in my late 20’s that I’m truly becoming confident doing so. It’s a way of listening to your heart. Making life choices that ring true to who you are and who you want to be in life. Connecting with people who share your morals, challenge your dreams and support you no matter what.
I stick with this advice now through everything, life and business. I often think about the way I would plan my wedding, and a few key lines keep coming up…’If it feels right then run with it’ and ‘does it matter?’ I think it’s important keeping those questions in mind with every decision wedding, business and life.

What is there to love about Tasmania?

It’s relaxed in ways no city could be. I’m loving Tassie’s more recent push to put its gourmet produce on the international map. In fact, it has so much to offer in terms of tourism and I can’t wait to see it boom into a State valued for it’s incredible natural environment and friendly people.

Your favourite thing to do in Tasmania?

Well for me it’s spending time in the homes of family and friends, going on photography adventures in the forests and mountains. MONA is an incredible place to visit, with all it’s uniqueness and independent thinking, it has transformed the way people see Tasmania and has encouraged Tasmanian’s themselves to nurture their entrepreneurial spirits. When I think of Tassie, I think of rugging up, camp fires, wine with friends, sea breezes whipping through my hair.

Another place you love to visit?

I’m currently writing this from Queenstown, New Zealand. This is the first time I’ve been here and it’s purely awe inspiring in it’s beauty. I’ll be back here, I can feel it.

Thank you Cassie for sharing your story. For more information on Photography with Cassie please visit her website.

All images courtesy of Photography with Cassie

Headshot by Alice Laidlaw

  • Friday Roundup | Polka Dot Bride says:
    May 23, 2014 at 10:21 am

    […] What Would They Know? Cassie Sullivan of Photography with Cassie 2. Expert Advice – When a Bridal Boutique Closes 3. Expert Styling Advice – Colourful […]



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