What Would They Know? Kirsten Graham and Rebecca Johanssen of Compose Photography

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


Polka Dot Bride

Experience counts. Kirsten and Rebecca of Compose Photography have been in business for 10 years and have seen many changes over that time. From uncomfortable formal poses, formal bouquets and cakes, big hair and even bigger veils – to a more natural way of doing things – no less beautiful, but a whole lot more personal and reflective of the couple themselves. That goes for photography too. The beauty of each wedding, captured so that the bridal couples are able to be themselves, their unique personalities and day shining through with a relaxed quality of photography, using the light, landscape and couple themselves to tell the story. And when your couples grow into families and keep coming back for more photo sessions, then you know that they trust you with the most important milestones of their lives. Here’s Kirsten and Rebecca’s story.

Where are you based?

After 10 years of having a central studio in North Perth, we now operate as Compose North and South in Perth.

How did you both team up to form Compose Photography?

We met when we were both working for a photography business when we had completed our studies. We developed the wedding and portrait area of that business before renaming that as our new business.

What are you most proud of with Compose Photography?

The ongoing great relationships we have with our clients. We love being at a wedding where we know half the guests as we have photographed so many family members in the past! It’s great to be able to catch up and see how they are years on from spending so much time together planning their wedding photography.

Do you shoot each wedding together?

We book weddings separately, as we photograph so similar and you have to have a pretty keen eye to know who photographed which wedding. We also get to shoot together sometimes when we have one wedding booked on a date, which is a treat for us.

Do you each bring a different style to your photography?

Over the years our style has changed, but what is great is that we have both changed loving the same new things to try, and continued to have that distinctive “Compose” feel to our images.

What is it about the creative process of photography that you most enjoy?

We love love. And photography means we are able to capture such magical moments in a creative way for our clients to enjoy forever.


How much pre-planning do you undertake before photographing a wedding?

We have a couple of meetings with our clients to go through the timeline and plan location and family photos with them. We like to be organised so that on the day of the wedding our clients know they can relax and enjoy being in the moment, while we capture their story.

What do you love about photographing weddings within the Australian landscape?

There is so much variety, especially when we photograph destination weddings. We are very fortunate in Perth to have beautiful waterways, as well as a couple of wine regions that are very popular locations.

What do you enjoy about travelling to photograph a wedding?

The fresh opportunities for creating images that we see. Quite often there is a story behind why the couple have selected that location, and it’s great to be able to explore the relationship they have with the location in their images.


Are you the recommended photographer at any venues?

Yes, we are recommended at numerous venues in Perth including Crown and Crown Towers, Caversham House and The Old Brewery.

What do you feel are the qualities that make a good wedding photographer (other than technical skills)?

The photography is only a small part of the wedding day. We make sure we do whatever we can to make sure our clients and their extended families have the most amazing day. We’ve fixed dresses and buttonholes, been the only person there who can tie a tie, tricks for people to calm down when the pressure is on, it’s all the little things that add up to a smooth wedding day.

What makes the best shots?

Real emotion is what we love to capture, you can see it in the images after the ceremony when everyone has relaxed that the real smiles have come out. But it’s also the smaller moments, like when Dad sheds a tear seeing his daughter in her wedding dress, the first moment the couple lay eyes on each other, these are such special moments in the story of the day.

Could you offer 5 tips to the bridal couple?

The most important thing is to remember why you are doing this in the first place. You are celebrating marrying the love of your life by having a wedding. So if something didn’t quite turn out how you expected or hasn’t gone entirely to plan don’t let it ruin the day – don’t sweat the small stuff.

Be organised and then delegate any tasks that need to be done on the day. This means you can concentrate on enjoying yourself.

Prioritise your budget so you are investing in what is most important to you, whether it be the dress, the flowers, the photos.

Book quality suppliers who you know you can trust implicitly.

Family who have lots of advice are at heart just so excited for you. So take their advice and then decide which traditions you want to use, putting your own stamp on your day.

What changes have you seen during your time in the wedding industry?

The industry is a lot bigger from when we started 15 years ago. A big change has been how we interact with our clients. Back then websites were a new thing, there was no such thing as social media whereas now most planning is done over email.

How is photography different now, than 5 years ago? Has your style changed in that time?

Our style slowly evolves over time, like any artist. But we have always loved classic, timeless images where people appreciate the moment and the image, not the extreme editing that has been done to it. We have more requests for our natural images over staged dramatic images compared to five years ago.

A favourite leisure activity is…..

We both have young families so spending time with them is important when we work so much on weekends. For Rebecca it’s the kids have a nerf gun fight, for Kirsten with a newborn it’s an early morning walk along the local beach.

We love living in Perth (and WA) because…..

It’s a great place to have a family with the parks and beaches so close to home.

Thank you Kirsten and Rebecca for sharing your story. Beautiful, soft yet strong images that you’ll never tire of looking at –  first the wedding and then later on as the family grows, shots for the album to celebrate your milestones. To find out more about Compose Photography visit the website.

Headshots courtesy of Compose Photography. 



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