What a lovely thing it is to be a close knit photography team; with your aims, goals, and shooting styles so in tune that you are still going strong after 12 years in partnership. This is the story of Diane and Amber of DeRay & Simcoe; best friends, partners in good humour and excellent wedding photography, and ‘capturers’ of golden light and moments. Amber and Diane say they are ‘noticers’ – they notice those photographic moments that are often fleeting but important, at the same time never losing sight of the hero shots that make up your story. They are also often helpers with their trusty sewing kit at the ready, calming unsteady nerves when stress gets the better of you and negotiating tricky situations. What more could you ask for – the whole package – photography included! All with a large dollop of experience, a sense of humour and a deep love of their craft. We join Diane and Amber as they tell us their story.
Why did you did you decide to form a photography partnership?
It’s kind of like when girls go together to the toilet and boys don’t!
No seriously, we decided we could achieve more as a partnership than individually. We also liked the flexibility to each work part time when we had babies.
We have supported each other through the challenges of running a small business as well as the challenges of being working parents.
Diane has one gorgeous redhead girl aged seven and Amber has two busy boys aged five and 10.
How long have you been taking photos together?
We started working together while both employed by another photographer in 2002. We started DeRay & Simcoe in 2005.
What are the advantages of being a close-knit photography team who are also best friends?
We know each other very well and have consistent goals for a wedding day. We know what it takes to produce stunning images for our couples and can achieve that while still ensuring everyone has an enjoyable time.
We see our partnership as a second marriage in a way for both of us so we’re well aware of what it takes to coexist and collaborate with your other half! There’s a lot of compromise that comes with spending every day working with your best friend. If you count the 12 years we’ve been in partnership plus the 12 years Amber’s been married and the 20 years Diane’s been married that’s a 52 years of combined ‘marriage’ experience!
What do each of you bring to the team?
Amber is good at the day-to-day running of the business, whereas Diane keeps an eye on the bigger picture. We both have a good sense of humour which definitely helps in the wedding industry.
Do you have a similar photographic style?
Yes, we sometimes argue over who took a particular photo at weddings. We believe it’s super important to have a consistent style within the business so our couples know what to expect regardless of who photographs their wedding.
On the wedding day, you seem to be so much more than photographers. What do you find yourselves doing?
Over the years we’ve managed to save the day on multiple occasions through our experience at previous weddings as well as our well-stocked emergency kits!
We carry a small sewing kit, band-aids, tissues, baby wipes, hairspray, sun cream, crochet hook for doing up buttons on dresses, scissors (get used at almost every wedding), pins for buttonholes and safety pins.
We’re experts at pinning on buttonholes (some can be super tricky) and keeping track of the wedding day schedule but we’ve also found ourselves fixing hair, carrying the bride’s train, putting dresses on brides and sensitively negotiating awkward family dynamics.
You capture seemingly unimportant details which all add up to a sensitive snapshot of the day. How is it that you notice these and capture them?
We are both noticers at weddings. We see all of the effort that (mostly the bride!) has been put into making the day unique. Experience definitely helps as we can quickly capture an important detail while keeping an eye on the bigger picture of the day.
How do you ensure your shots have a timeless quality and won’t date?
We try not to follow trends and keep our post-production style natural. We are passionate about keeping colours accurate which requires Photoshopping shots individually rather than using filters. We attract clients who are having timeless weddings by showing that style of work on our website and social media so that definitely helps our brand image.
How has photography changed in the time you have been taking wedding photographs?
The main difference is that when we both started in photography we were shooting on film, whereas now we are digital shooters. This has changed our workflows enormously. We were trained you do not waste shots as you only have a limited number of images on a roll of film.
Improvements in technology have also helped us to streamline our admin procedures. Our client management software now takes care of online booking, electronic contracts and keeps us on track with the timely delivery of wedding albums.
How important is natural light and using it in creative ways to produce your shots?
Very. It suits our style and we are predominantly natural light photographers. We are very experienced so can work with any lighting conditions but love the softness of filtered outdoor light.
Are your images taken outside in the dusk light an integral part of your style?
Yes this has become our signature look in the past few years; warm-toned, backlit images. We help arrange the wedding schedule to maximize the chances of getting good light around sunset. We photograph the vast majority of our weddings in Perth where the sun is very harsh so we prefer to shoot later in the day.
After being a part of so many weddings as photographers, do you have words of advice you can offer to the bridal couple?
Be very organized before the wedding, make sure you know who is taking your grandmother to church as you don’t want to be thinking about that on the morning of your big day! Make sure you have a master timetable so that there’s no stress thinking about where people need to be. We work closely with our couples to devise realistic wedding timetables.
Make sure you talk to your photographer about the scheduling on your wedding day very early on in the plans. It’s very romantic to think you will have a 4:30pm ceremony in June but the reality is that the sun sets around 5:20pm so you will run out of light very quickly.
Once you have the full plans in place it’s important to let it all go on the day. Small things might go wrong but good planning will minimize any major dramas. Being a stressed bride on your wedding day is not good for anyone.
Think about the marriage as well as just the wedding, at the end of the day it’s such a small part of the rest of your lives, marriages take ongoing effort to thrive. Don’t stress over every little detail, you are planning a marriage, not just a wedding.
What is important to the standard of service you provide? Is excellent service an integral part of your business?
We understand that our clients expect high-end customer service as well as an amazing product. We aim to make the whole experience from when we first meet through to the delivery of the final product, a special experience. We have many workflows and systems set up to ensure that every client receives the same high level of attention to detail.
We only use top quality suppliers such as Queensberry Albums who supply us with high-end quality albums and also have amazing customer service.
We mostly use local suppliers for printing, framing, camera and computer equipment and choose other small businesses that share our values and standards.
How are the finished wedding photographs presented to the couple? Is this a favourite part of the whole wedding for you?
Most of our couples choose the option of a Queensberry wedding album to tell the story of their day. All of our couples receive the high-resolution digital files on a USB. We do love presenting the images in a beautiful and practical way and sending printed products to their forever homes to be cherished.
Do you find your bridal couples returning for further photographic sessions?
Yes, more than half of the portraits we do are for previous wedding clients. We feel like we become part of the family and get to watch the family grow over the years. We love babies and fur babies so get very excited when couples bring in their new additions to meet us for more photos.
What are your other interests apart from photography?
We work almost every Saturday in wedding season so Sundays are very precious to us and our families.
You can find Diane pottering around her garden and doing gluten-free baking and crafts with her seven year old daughter. On her days off she likes to do a bit of exercise with friends and read home decorating magazines.
Amber loves art and crafts and is currently doing a pottery course. She runs around after her two boys and they often go on family bike rides along the Swan River near where they live.
Thank you, Diane and Amber, for sharing your story. That dusk light is certainly as they say ‘the golden hour’ – it makes everything shine just that little bit more. To find out more about DeRay & Simcoe visit the website.
Headshot and all images by DeRay & Simcoe.