What Would They Know? Joel Mailo of Ava Me Photography

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


Polka Dot Bride

Images are always so full of feelings – tenderness, love, outrageous fun or stillness. And when those images also have a gentle overlay of a photographer who has a keen eye for observing people then you have Ava Me Photography. A wedding feels as if it’s over in the blink of an eye and it takes someone who is everywhere like a ninja, to capture it all – every moment in all of its raw emotion, telling the complete story of the day. It also takes someone with skill, a passion for storytelling and people to really be successful in capturing the essence of the wedding day. Here’s Joel’s story – a story of persistence in learning his craft to produce the beautiful work that is his, today.

You have an interesting business name – does it have a story?

Yes my business name is very interesting because it’s not named after me (well sort of). Having been into photography for around 10 years, it really wasn’t until my daughter Ava was born that I began to seriously hone my skills. I didn’t have a great camera at the time, so I had to master every facet of it to capture our little bundle of joy. That transformative year really started me on this journey and I thought it was only right to name the business after the inspiration behind it.

How long have you been a wedding photographer?

I’ve been photographing weddings for 3 years.

Of all the fields in photography – why choose weddings to specialise in?

Weddings are just so beautiful, amazing and dynamic. From a technical standpoint, you touch upon almost every facet of photography: product, landscapes, portraits, photojournalism, art. The challenge in mastering each part of a wedding is what drives me to continue to hone my skills. Personally, I just relish in seeing how much love and joy can flow between two people, then watching how much emotion this love generates amongst the people around them. It’s incredible to witness and such a privilege to be a part of.

Where are you based?

I’m based in Sydney and most of my weddings are around Sydney, but I do travel across the east coast of Australia for weddings.

How would you describe your photography style?

Candid. Photojournalistic. Vivid.

How long did it take you to develop your style of photography that we see today?

Generally, my style has continued to evolve over time but I think in the last year things have come together with how I shoot and edit. So I’d say my style has taken about 2 years to develop.

As photography style evolves, is wedding photography going in a particular direction that you can see?

I’m really terrible with predicting trends. Obviously drones are up and around nowadays though I don’t have one yet. I do think as technology progresses you’ll get a convergence of video and photography. The candid and photojournalistic part of wedding photography will continue and the amount of images a couple receives of those in-between moments, whether it be between themselves, their bridal party or guests, will only increase.

How do you keep on learning and keep your photography style fresh?

Instagram is a great place for me to find inspiration, and I follow a number of awesome wedding photographers. I also have a few Pinterest boards with all sorts of pinned images. Ultimately, nothing beats catching up with fellow photographers whether it be online or in workshops to learn new and exciting ways of doing things.

Do you offer packages of different levels?

I offer 3 levels of packages based on hours of coverage: Dream – 6 hours, Romance – 9 hours, Impression – 12 hours

What do all your packages include?

All my packages provide the same level of retouching and an online gallery to host the images. My base Dream package provides just the coverage, whilst my Romance package includes the coverage plus an engagement shoot. My top package, Impression includes all this and the images on a USB thumb drive in a custom presentation box.

What are some optional extras that the bridal couple can opt for?

The engagement shoot is an optional extra if not part of a package. As I shoot solo, you can also get a second photographer as an option. There are also options for a USB thumb drive in a presentation box, or a deluxe presentation box that includes a mini album. Lastly, I offer a range of trendy AsukaBook wedding albums.

What do you enjoy about photographing weddings (and the day itself)?

I really enjoy seeing the love and passion between two people unfold over an emotional day. It’s an incredible experience, you know listening to them, their friends and family retell their epic love story. I’ve definitely fought back tears at times, and there’ll be some first dances where I just drop my camera for a brief moment just to take it all in. Those are the moments that make this all worth it.

When looking at your photography – it seems very focused on the people at the little moments of the day. Is this what interests you most when photographing a wedding?

I think this comes from being a dad to two young children. My camera just follows them and their faces, and this tendency has continued into my wedding photography, where I usually stick close to the main stars of the show. Though don’t get me wrong, I really do love a good landscape or nature shot when one presents itself.

Photographers are by nature ‘visual’ people, I think. How has this influenced you in your everyday life?

It’s funny in that everywhere I look and go, I’m always unconsciously framing things, looking at angles and lighting. It even happens at home.

If you could photograph anyone – who would it be?

My kids. I don’t do it enough.

If you could give advice to your younger self, what would it be?

Be patient and stay the course.

What is your most treasured item?

My son’s hospital name tag, it sits in my camera bag.

What is your favourite place?

My bed. No joking. Paris is one of my favourite cities in the world. When I went there over 10 years ago, I remember going absolutely nuts with my camera at the architecture and beauty of the city. I’ve visited many incredible places since then but I’ll never forget that first glimpse of the Paris Opera building emerging from the metro, it was an awakening of sorts and the reason I still look back on it fondly.

Thank you Joel for sharing your story. The beauty of photography is painting the picture of your day and all the emotions that you felt will be with you as pore over your album.

Headshot courtesy of Ava Me Photography.



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