When you’re passionate about something don’t you think that it really shows? It crosses from your work into your life and everything that surrounds you. It’s infectious and that’s what Capture the Moment Photography (now Elk and Fir) is all about. From her wedding photography to her other passion projects Heartfelt and donating two shoots to cancer survivors, her evocative images radiate soulfulness and beauty. So today, let’s meet the woman behind the lens, Carissa.
Tells us a little about Capture the Moment Photography.
Hello! So excited to be interviewed by the famous Polka Dot Bride! My name is Carissa, owner of Capture The Moment Photography, Rockhampton’s award-winning wedding photographer, awarded in 2016 as ABIA’s Wedding Photographer of the Year!
Calling the beautiful Rockhampton home, we do however photograph weddings all over Australia, including the Sunshine Coast and its beautiful Hinterlands, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Heron Island, Tropical Nth QLD and beyond!
Also recognised by AIPP as an Accredited Professional Photographer, we are dedicated to creating gorgeous, heartfelt images and artwork. Mementos that reflect who you are – your inner beauty, love… the essence of you.
We take photos as a return ticket to a moment otherwise gone.
Do you have a background in the creative arts?
No not really, only dancing my way through my childhood on stage from 3 to 21!
What was it about photography that appealed to you, to make it your profession?
Truly? My kids! I have three beautiful sons; Zac 21, Riley 19 and Colby 15! I have spent my whole adult life ‘capturing every moment’ I can, either in film or video. I just want to freeze every moment so I can relive it over and over.
In terms of a profession, the passion I have for photography was always there but until 2009 I did not recognize that this could be something more. Until someone prodded me into action! So I started photographing my kids and their sporting teams. As we are a very sporty family, with rugby league, touch football, cricket, it more than kept me busy! The QLD State Touch Football held every year was my ‘big event’ for the year. Then in 2011 dear friends of mine were married at Bargara on the Beach and I’ve never looked back! Thanks to them I am now a wedding photographer!
What do you love about photographing Australian weddings?
Here, especially in Rockhampton Central QLD I feel I am blessed with the variety of options! We have spectacular country West of Rockhampton, showcasing some of Australia’s best! Oh and the country folk really know how to party! Good ‘ol genuine people! There’s also the beautiful forestry surrounds of Byfield State Forest. The beach is only a 40min drive away with the likes of Keppel Island, Heron Island and further north we have the Whitsundays! And Brisbane and Sunny Coast access is only an hour flight!
Central QLD is a perfect hub for a wedding of any style! And what is my favourite? I seriously can not tell you! I fall in love with every wedding I photograph! Or maybe it’s the people!
What do you enjoy about being a part of the wedding industry?
I think that it is the ‘happiness’ of the ‘job’. From the moment the phone call comes through it is all about the love story! It’s as simple as that!
In Central QLD we really have a great number of talented wedding vendors that are passionate about the industry. We all support each other and I think that our area is written off quickly as not being up with Brisbane and the South East. If you have not surfed the net on our wedding vendors do yourself a favour and do so! Some of us are up there with the best of the best! And we do travel!
Why do you only shoot up to 20 weddings per year?
I am shooting around 25 weddings now…but I like to keep this number down so as to give it my all for each bride! I want to give them the boutique personal experience.
The other reason is, I love the Boudoir side of my business. I want to show women how beautiful they are! Lets face it…we all need to be reminded! These shoots too are increasing at a rapid rate and with most of my brides taking this opportunity as a pre-wedding shoot as a gift to their groom!
Why is it important to you to have your work judged for awards such as ABIA? What does this mean for your business?
It keeps me on my toes!
Firstly this award is judged on my business, not individual photographs. And only my Brides can complete the survey!
So this means more to me in terms of business and keeps me on track as to my performance! I think if you have the passion then the performance will just follow at 100%
AIBA has recognised Capture The Moment Photography as a top wedding photographer rated no. 1 in QLD at 99.9%!
As determined by the newlyweds of Australia on quality of product, quality of service, value for money and attitude of staff.
How would you describe your photography style?
In three words:
Soulful, organic, natural.
Do you see photography as art?
Absolutely, It’s one thing learning how to use your camera but it’s an art to learn how to take amazing creative photographs! The training and constant tweaking of how I transform each and every image into a work of art takes a lot of work!
I am constantly googling and taking online courses to further satisfy my craving for learning! Photography has so many genres which constantly change with trends and creativity and with access to some amazing equipment and teachers, this is an ongoing daily craving for me…yes I am a tad addicted!
How important is a sense of place in your photographs? What do you aim for when photographing couples in a wide landscape?
It is all about the moment! Whether it is a snuggle, a giggle, a walk, a gentle hand that is held out as guidance, a chase through the grass…it’s all about the love and moment! With regards to a landscape image, the reason I take these images for my bridal couples is to create that work of art to place on their wall. As a memory of that snuggling moment and the mood of the day taking in the landscape; a beautiful Winter’s sunset or a stormy sky! I recommend to my couples to choose this image as the work of art on the wall. Firstly, as it is a beautiful landscape image to admire. Yes they are only a small part of the image but it shows a beautiful moment of love. And secondly it won’t date like a close-up smiley ‘looking at the camera’ image.
What do you love about preparing the images with creative processing? What does this mean for the final product?
My creative processing has become an extension of my art allowing me to heighten mood and ambiance. It’s this creative styling that I enjoy especially when I can create a wow factor.
In the journey of meeting the couple to presenting your finished work to them – what is the part you most enjoy?
Shooting the wedding! My brides will quite often hear ‘omg’ or ‘seriously beautiful’, I can’t help myself! Especially during the creative session at the end of the day! The sunflare gets me every time! And then before I leave the reception I like to create a night session with off camera flash, fog, smoke bombs and if it’s raining – well the sky’s the limit with creativity!
Second to that, the official viewing in studio of the couples e-album. I can judge their happiness instantly as they watch for the first time their wedding day in film! And yes quite often there are tears!
Do you have various photography packages, and is there flexibility with these?
Absolutely! I have 4 packages available with all day/night coverage to choose from and all are customisable! I have payment plans available also which most of my brides take advantage of!
I do also have a French Kiss ‘N Run packages available for those on a tight budget!
What are some wedding day tips you can give our bridal couples?
Oh I have so many, but to keep it simple! Be organized. I can’t stress this enough! If you want a stress free relaxing day then this is the only way. As part of my bridal coaching all brides receive a comprehensive time line designed by myself to suit each individual wedding! This is the key!
Other than weddings what other photography do you do?
Boudoir and glamour! Another favourite of mine…a beautiful personal lady’s day of pampering! Hair, make up, styling and a private photographic session. My style is elegant, natural and intimate.
I hold boudoir marathons almost every month providing my clients with an inexpensive day out with wonderful memories, pampering and photographs!
You donate your services to cancer and Heartfelt. Can you explain what this entails – and why you do what you do for these?
This is very personal for me. Firstly I donate two glamour or boudoir shoots per year to a breast cancer fighter/survivor. Who more deserving than these courageous women!
I sadly lost a girlfriend 6 years ago. She was only 38…the sole reason. I miss you Michelle every day!
What is Heartfelt? Heartfelt is a volunteer organisation of professional photographers from all over Australia and New Zealand dedicated to giving the gift of photographic memories to families that have experienced stillbirths, premature births, or have children with serious and terminal illnesses.
Simply, I have been blessed with three beautiful children with no troubles of falling, pregnancy or birth. I just want to give back. So many women have trouble falling pregnant and carrying. I have no words but prayers for those women.
Are you the sort of person who always takes a camera with you – wherever you go? Do you see a photo opportunity all around you – or are you able to put down the camera and just enjoy the moment?
I must say that yes that was the case when my kids were little but that was also before the iphone! Now though I am able to pull myself away from the camera more and enjoy the moment but do often think I don’t take enough photos personally anymore; proper photos on a real camera!
With the iphone at hand 100% of the time I am always taking short videos and photos! I will be a very happy girl when the iphone camera improves for night photos!
As for seeing an opportunity around me: YEEEESSS! Always looking for new locations for my brides!
What interests do you have outside of photography?
I lead a rather simple life. It’s all about the family. We have a deck outside where we spend a lot of time, even in winter we have dinner on the deck with our boys by the fire. State of Origin or footy in general is a ‘thing’ at our house. My boys have a great group of friends that quite often join us on the deck for a bbq and footy on the flat screen!
My family are very musical also. They all play music and sing, so singing around the fire is my all time favourite! My eldest can sing, play the guitar and drums. My middle boy plays guitar, sax and piano but is too shy to sing and the youngest plays guitar and is again a little shy to sing. The music all comes from my husband’s side not mine (hahaha). But I sure do enjoy it and am proud! I just groove to the music!
Apart from that it’s all about following our kids around with their sport, boating and camping!
If you could have given advice to your younger self what would it be?
Ask yourself ‘what is it you love to do?’ Do it! If you are lucky enough to turn what you love to do into a job then you are on the road to happiness!
Passion is the key.
Do you have some exciting projects, travel or interests planned in the next year?
Apart from destination weddings in QLD and NSW, I will be travelling to Canada this Christmas. It has been a long dream of mine to experience a white Christmas! It has been 5 long years of saving and only 2 weeks ago we booked our family tickets! I don’t think it has hit me yet that I am actually going! We all love Christmas and we all love to ski! What a perfect action-packed holiday for a mother of boys!
And don’t worry, I will be putting feelers out for a possible shoot over there! Would be a dream to have that as part of my portfolio! Although I think my family will kill me. A small family shoot would be OK…wouldn’t it?
Thank you Carissa for sharing your story; precious moments in time that you’ll be able to relive every day. To find out more about Capture the Moment (now Elk and Fir) photography visit the website.
Headshot by Charlee Photography.