BETH SLADDEN - INTERVIEW
Tell us about yourself. What is your background, and how did you get into photography?
I've loved taking photos ever since I got my hands on one of my dad’s cameras as a child. He's a photographer too, and he's guided me a lot over the years on my journey from a 6 year old with a disposable to where I am today.
Over the years my disposables and compact cameras turned into my first DSLR (after plenty of babysitting to earn it!) at the age of 13, and I started photographing my siblings, friends and even booked a few "clients" for some spare pocket money. Back then I watermarked EVERYTHING * cringe *!
Over my university years I strayed from photography a little, and it wasn't until my now husband and I were looking at masses of wedding photographers for our wedding that I noticed how much the art still spoke to me. It was a big wake up call for me to get back on track, and shortly after I started my own photography business called The Wildlings Photography. My intention was, and still is, to capture real, raw, and wild moments shared between loved ones that will take them back to how they felt when it was taken 60 years from now. My husband, Marcus, has recently joined the team as my second shooter, and the photos I post of me are usually taken by him (some of which you will see here).
Please provide us with a list of the gear you use on a regular basis:
I'm an extremely minimalist photographer. I usually stick to just my Nikon D810 and Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art.
What does your post-production process look like?
My post production process always starts with a huge mug of hot chocolate and Tribe Archipelago presets (after a long culling session!). I've used and loved LKO, and more recently have had the pleasure of using Summit. I always take down the contrast quite a bit and play around with skin tones, as I like to try and keep some rawness in the image. Once I'm happy, I'll save the tweaked preset for the specific shoot I'm working on, which makes it so much more time-efficient to edit. I tend to go away and come back with fresh eyes before exporting, because sometimes tones can look perfect to me at the time and all wrong the next time I look.
How has your photography style evolved over time?
I think the tones of my work have become a lot moodier over the years. I also used to try and capture real moments from a distance by being a fly on the wall. Now I've learnt that sometimes daring to get close to our subject can help us to understand the moment better. It's so much easier to capture emotions if you understand where they're coming from. I've also always been extremely instructive when it comes to posing, but recently I've been trying to let the scene unfold a little more naturally after some initial instruction to make them feel more comfortable. This way, you're allowing the subject to fully be present in the moment (whether that's with a loved one or by themselves) and I find that the results are so much more raw and real that way.
What are your favourite tools for capturing, editing, and enhancing your photographs?
It may sound simple but Tribe presets (not sponsored haha!) and Lightroom are massive assets to me. Before I rekindled my love for photography and even before presets (and even filters) were a thing, I used to play with mixing tones and colours to get the look I was after. It was a loooong process, so I'm so grateful for how easy and effective Lightroom presets are. Other than that, I try to keep it all as simple as possible and let the images speak for themselves. I don't use any fancy equipment to enhance anything!
What is your greatest piece of advice for emerging photographers?
Try not to compare yourself to others too much. We're constantly exposed to all these amazing talents that it can be easy to lose ourselves (along with our authenticity) in trying to measure up. Instead of trying to be the next best "them," try to be the first best you. It's not something that happens over night, but you owe it to yourself to start the journey.
What type of photography do you most enjoy?
As strange as it sounds, my favourite kind of photographs are the ones that inspire me to put my camera down for a while and soak everything in. All the beautiful candid moments that make us feel alive.
What are you discouraged about in your work/business? What encourages you?
I get discouraged a lot when I get emails from people who clearly just want a cheap deal and haven't specifically connected with my work. These people don't usually bother to reply when I let them know my prices (and I'm pretty reasonable haha!). But then the opposite also happens, when someone books me from another county or even another country because my work has resonated with them and they specifically want me, no matter the distance. Those bookings are definitely the most encouraging! That, and the excited and emotional reactions I receive when clients receive their galleries encourage me.
When was a time you thought you would/had failed? How did you overcome it?
When I was starting out I was trying to speak for my work rather than letting it speak for itself. I put out thousands of flyers and was trying to network with vendors 8 hours a day. After a few solid weeks of doing this and having barely any (if any at all) responses, I started to feel like it was so much harder than I'd thought to get your name out there and get clients. I was exhausted and defeated.
I overcame this by taking a step back from networking and focusing on what I loved doing— creating. I photographed friends and acquaintances for free which reminded me what I was doing it all for. Their friends and families would see the images and were soon contacting me to book shoots of their own.
What defines success for you as a photographer? If you never achieve that, will you still be satisfied with what you do?
For me, success is being able to get to witness so many beautiful stories for a living, and to capture them so that the clients can hold on to those moments forever and show them to their grandchildren one day. Success is defined in squeals and happy tears when the clients receive their galleries. I'd still love photography if I never got to achieve that, but I don't think I could ever be fully satisfied with the area I work in if the images didn't evoke emotion.