To look at images and feel captured by the moment is the essence for me, of seeing into the lives of the people in the image for one moment in time. Captured by Pavel (now known as Birch & Wattle Photography) photographs images with a clarity of style that allows us to peer into the image and feel the emotion of the looks exchanged, of the feeling the wedding dress gave the bride, and the smell of the salty air. To have a photographer who understands this, is a gift you give yourself – because all those precious memories will stay alive through the images for the rest of your lives.
How long have you been in business and where are you based?
I have been a full-time professional photographer for nearly 12 years now… wow, time really does fly! We are based in Sydney, however tend to travel throughout NSW, interstate and overseas for our lovely clients.
How would you describe your photography style?
Natural, genuine, emotive and elegant story-telling. I really aim to create an intimate, captivating and timeless documentary of every wedding, which reflects the unique atmosphere of their special day, as well as how they are as a couple.
I personally shoot every wedding myself and oversee all stages of the workflow, so that there is 100% consistency throughout.
What to you, is the quintessential ‘Captured by Pavel’ shot?
Just like photography style, it is quite tricky to assign a description to it and perhaps much more informative just to see it! J What I do look for though is capturing authentic emotions and moments to tell a personal story. I also try to avoid doing any ‘typical’ shots or replicating any previous work, as I feel that it takes the ‘soul’ out of it, so even photographing repeatedly in the same locations, I always search for new ways to utilise the surroundings to create imagery unique to each couple.
How do you aim to be unique and different?
Photography is extremely subjective, so even placed in the same circumstances with the same subjects and conditions we would all see and hence portray slightly different things, so we always encourage our clients to come in and see as much of our work as possible to ensure that it matches their vision.
We are a father and daughter team (which is quite unusual, I know) and this business is our absolute passion, so the way we look after our clients really is quite unique! We actually assist throughout all stages of the wedding process to ensure the day runs smoothly and the couple can just relax and enjoy spending time with their loved ones, trusting that they’ve hired the right professionals to do their jobs. By the time we hand over the photos we’ve become friends and we often get to continue being a part of their journey with beautiful babies to follow, friends’ weddings, etc.
And of course – experience, as they say, there’s no substitute for it! Having photographed hundreds of weddings, from private island elopements to 700 people 3-day extravaganzas, means that we can really tackle any conditions thrown at us (lighting or otherwise) to ensure every moment is captured beautifully.
Your images seem to have a ‘sense of place’. How important are landscape details to your photography? How does this add to the ‘story’ you are telling of the couple’s day?
This probably comes from the love of photography and story-telling in general, as well as having been lucky to shoot in some beautiful places around the world, such as Spain, Russia, Turkey and Fiji. I am always looking for inspiration and ways to incorporate the surroundings to create a multi-dimensional story and a visually interesting image.
Do you pre-plan your shots, tailoring them to each couple, or do you aim to keep your photography spontaneous?
There is a lot of planning involved for the actual day to ensure we are very familiar with each of the locations/venues and timings and can prepare the right equipment and approach accordingly. We also discuss each couples preferences and must-haves in detail. On the actual day though we like to interfere as little as possible, observing, anticipating and capturing the beautifully spontaneous moments, as they unfold.
How important is it for you to get to know your clients before hand? What steps do you take from the first contact with the bridal couple?
As I mentioned, this is the most important thing for us, so that we can really understand a couple’s vision and how they interact with each other! We provide as much input as desired (sometimes planning their entire wedding!) to ensure the day is as relaxed and happy as it should be.
How do you help brides and grooms relax with you from the beginning of the day, so that you get the shots you want?
Getting to know our couples definitely goes a long way, so when we start the day it’s always with lots of smiles and laughter already! People look their best when they are comfortable and relaxed, so we never ask them to do anything that doesn’t come naturally, we just utilise the best lighting and surroundings and leave them to enjoy the moment!
Do you have any tips for brides and grooms to help them relax in front of the camera?
Of course everyone always says ‘Pretend we’re not here’, but it’s easier said than done, right?!! We always explain that there is no expectation to act/stand/etc. a certain way and there is nothing that you can do wrong. The whole point is not for the photographer to create a particular shot, but for the couple to have a really good time, which is then our job to capture skillfully and beautifully. So if you make having an amazing time your goal and imagine what you’d like the finished product to look like – the unique magic and energy of you as a couple, then the photographer being there just becomes inconsequential! J
How much direction do you give to the bridal couples and bridal party?
We stay unnoticed for most of the day, so that the couple can forget that they are being photographed and provide gentle guidance (and lots of reassurance) throughout the location shoots in order to make the most of the natural light and locations, but let couples and their bridal party relax and have fun!
What is your mission/aim with each wedding you photograph?
Creating that intimate and emotional documentary and capturing all those authentic moments along with every little detail is our sole purpose!
What are couples wanting/expecting in their wedding photographs now?
Luckily, the days of extensive posing are over and couples are looking for candid and genuine images that reflect their story, which is exactly what will stand the test of time and be just as relevant and emotionally powerful for years to come!
What is it about photographing weddings that you love and that challenges you?
It is absolutely all the wonderful people we get to meet and the privilege of being a part of their life’s journey! I mean, what can be better than capturing the smiles, the laughter, the tears and the sheer happiness that comes with two people declaring their love in front of all their nearest and dearest?!!
Photographing weddings is a labour intensive business! How do you ensure you have a work/life balance?
That is a tricky question, as I’m not quite sure that we have that balance!.. (we haven’t had our Christmas break yet) However, I think I’ve learnt to just take the small opportunities to relax and unwind whenever possible, as opposed to waiting for one big holiday.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Sport has always been a huge part of my life, so being active is essential to keeping me sane! If I’m not shooting or editing I can be found running, swimming and rollerblading (yes, people still do that!), oh and my new road bike is my latest obsession. Otherwise, nothing beats a chilled day at the beach with my beautiful family! J
Thank you Pavel for sharing your story. Gorgeous images that convey the emotion of the moment! To find our more about Captured by Pavel visit the website.
All images are by Captured by Pavel.