SKILLIE & TEHILLAH - INTERVIEW
Tell us about yourself. What is your background, and how did you get into photography?
We are Skillie & Tehillah. We are a married couple living in Wellington, South Africa (close to Cape Town) and we live a slow life in the Winelands with our three kids. We've been shooting weddings for nearly nine years and still love everything about it!
Tehillah started working for a photographer right after school, answering email, designing books and second shooting here & there, while I finished a degree in Theology at university. It was during this time that we started shooting together after meeting through a mutual friend.
Taking pictures for the sake of memories has been evident in both of our upbringings. Stories & light has been something that I've been intrigued with my whole life, and after I got my first DSLR and being able to shoot full manual, the obsession with light just grew from there. There is now not one day passing by that I do not take a photograph - we always try to see the beauty in every small little thing - no matter how random the subject.
We love sushi I think a bit too much - and now we taught the kids to like it also, so we're in trouble! We love to hang out, listen to all genres of music and explore new places together. Family life is the hardest but most fantastic experience— we are so thankful for it! It's like being strapped in on a rollercoaster and every time you stop at the station - the operator says, “Sorry you can't get off - Enjoy!” When you eventually then get a chance to get off for one round, you're saying to yourself, “I love that roller coaster so much - get me back on!” What a journey!
Please provide us with a list of the gear you use on a regular basis:
We shoot with Canon 5D MKIII's. Our favorite lenses to shoot with are the Canon 35mm L f/1.4 & the Canon 50mm L f/1.2. We try to stick to as little gear as possible, to be as mobile as possible since a wedding day is jam-packed with incredible moments to capture all over.
What does your post-production process look like?
Our post-production is relatively simple. We edit our raw files with the lovely Terrain presets, and mainly focus on color - we love a warm look. We do however also love a bit of monochrome!
How has your photography style evolved over time?
Starting out as wedding photographers, we followed the trends of that current era, but we soon realized that we needed to shoot weddings the way we see it, and by doing so, we will develop a unique style. We all have a gift to see the world from a unique perspective - not just with our eyes, but also with our hearts. When we had our children, something inside of us changed radically, and it's as if your heart becomes way more sensitive and alert to the things that truly matter in life - relationships. I believe that inspiration isn't something that'll come waltzing down the street - you have to look for it by living and loving in such a way that you can't help but be inspired all the time, even by the most random of subjects.
So yeah, I believe our style will continue to evolve if we allow our hearts & minds to be influenced by the light & stories that cross our roads as we go through life.
What are your favourite tools for capturing, editing, and enhancing your photographs?
When it comes to capturing images I believe one of the most critical skills you have to develop is to be alert - you have to become a character in the story so that you as the storyteller can bring over the emotion of the day to the viewer.
To enhance our pictures during the editing process, we love to play around with clarity, as well as the gradient tool in Lightroom where we often add in more color and a vignette effect.
What is your greatest piece of advice for emerging photographers?
I would say that you should pour most of your focus into connecting with the people you photograph - don't be so focused on building a killer portfolio that the people you shoot just become a means toward your excelling career as a photographer. You will be surprised at the insane amount of word of mouth that will happen if you are invested in your couples' and their stories.
Also - if you're following other photographers' work on social media, and it's dragging you down and making you feel inferior - unfollow them and see the difference! If you find the work inspiring and it's uplifting you - follow as much as you can - but be honest with yourself, because this can put a severe brake on your creativity as an individual.
What type of photography do you most enjoy?
Obviously weddings! We love capturing all the emotion involved on a wedding day - the tears, the joy, the laughter, the hugs, the dancing - it's just all so beautiful! I always enjoy portraiture outside of wedding photography and also capturing scenes from wherever I go on a daily basis - you can check out some of my personal work on Instagram at @the_narrateur.
What are you discouraged about in your work/business? What encourages you?
Something that occasionally gets to us is that some weddings are planned to be a better show than the previous one. Weddings were never intended to be competitions of being cooler/prettier than your friend's wedding. What we find encouraging in regard with this, is that there is still so many incredible real people out there living amazing stories of love and humbleness - and we get to photograph so many of them - what an absolute privilege!
When was a time you thought you would/had failed? How did you overcome it?
For us specifically we had a big struggle with comparing ourselves to other photographers and that was so unhealthy - we tried so hard creating images that wouldn't necessarily be something we'd typically do, that it started to feel weird. The moment we stopped with the comparison game and shooting the world the way we see it, we felt free. Now we just want to connect with our fellow photographers in the industry and share this amazing freedom that we're experiencing. As artists, we should uplift each other and not compete.
Failure is something that comes along in every season of being a photographer - it's never fun to fail - whether it was with new ideas you were trying or just in relationships - but it instructs us and gives us tips on how to treat similar projects/situations in the future. Embrace your failures by sharing it with a community of photographers where you feel safe to do so. So in short - failure is way easier to overcome if it's shared with people that genuinely care about you.
What defines success for you as a photographer? If you never achieve that, will you still be satisfied with what you do?
I guess, this answer will differ for a lot of people, but for us being predominantly wedding photographers, I would say my job was successful if I captured the story of the wedding day - and by story - the characters celebrating with the couple - everyone there most probably had an influence in their lives, whether it was individually or collectively. So if I can capture the essence of who someone is - success! Hard work in all spheres of your business - but I believe specifically the relationships you build & maintain - will be key factors into building a sustainable photography business.