With October being Photographer Appreciation Month, we thought now was a perfect time to chat with Tessa Clements, Founder of Tessa Clements Photography, for another fantastic Q&A in our ‘In Conversation With…’ series.
We’ve worked with Tessa for many years and think she’s fantastic! A talented photographer, Tessa works in Beckenham and the surrounding areas and takes wedding, family and commercial photography. Her shots are always stunning, and she ensures a relaxed, natural style where true emotion is captured.
Today, we are shining a light on her photography experience and wisdom. So, let’s hop straight into the Q&A.
Could you sum up your background and career history?
I started my career in marketing and advertising after leaving University. But after a few years, I realised it just wasn’t creative enough for me. I had always loved photography so I decided to take a different career path. I left my full-time job and freelanced for a year while also training to be a photographer. I learnt from some award-winning wedding photographers and then worked as an assistant and second photographer predominantly on weddings before setting up my own business. I’ve now had my own photography business for over 15 years.
How do you as a photographer make sure that the thing, person or landscape you want to shoot looks the way you want it to?
I plan every shoot visually in my head and sometimes on paper. I’ll recce the location in advance and check where the light will be for that time of day and time of year so I can map it out in my mind before the shoot. Then I’ll draw a little storyboard in my notebook of what I want the shot to look like and where the subjects will be positioned.
From your point of view, what makes a good picture?
For me, it’s one that shows emotion. It should be technically good and have a great composition but the main thing for me is, does it make me feel something? As I mainly photograph people, I thrive on capturing the natural emotions of my subjects.
Nowadays almost everyone has access to devices with which it is possible to take pictures. What do you think is the difference between a professional photographer and any other hobby photographer?
A professional will be combining so much more into an image than a hobbyist. We look for the different shades of light and how it is falling into our locations, we’re trying to find the best backdrop, and the most interesting angles. We think about exactly what we want in focus and how much depth of field we give to our subject and background. We consider the colours and patterns at play. We think about the composition of our image and how this changes the outcome and mood of the final image. We also then spend time editing the image in post-production which requires various software packages.
Which one is your favourite lens and why do you prefer it?
I think I love all of my lenses for different reasons as some are more suited to certain types of photography than others. But if I had to pin it down to one I’d say my Canon 85mm lens. It has an amazing bokeh effect and is very versatile – especially during my outdoor family photoshoots.
What, in your opinion, is most important to consider while shooting portrait pictures?
When shooting portraits, it’s all about connection. You can have a great location and lighting but if you can’t interact with your client and help them feel relaxed about their portraits you’ll never get the final image and feel that you want.
Which editing software do you usually use?
I do all my light editing in Lightroom and then take them into Photoshop for more complex retouching needs.
In your free time, what kind of pictures do you like to shoot, and which ones do you avoid?
I love nature and being out in stunning landscapes but for me, they still have to have people in them! So I would probably never be a landscape photographer because I’d miss the human element. I love people photography. In my free time, I’ll be taking photos of my family and friends.
When did your passion for photography begin?
When I was about 9 I remember getting my first camera and the enjoyment I got from making a photo from anything around me. But it was when I went travelling about 20 years ago that I truly fell in love with photography. And as a result, I was awarded Finalist in the Independent’s Travel Photographer of the year exhibition.
What’s your number one tip for excellent photography?
Think about EVERYTHING to do with that image. The light, angles, framing, colours, best lens to use, backdrops, the emotion you want, the depth of field, the position of your subjects etc
Since photography techniques and equipment change quickly, it is important to stay up to date? What do you do to always keep up with the times?
I love attending the various Photography Trade Shows where all the new elements of photography and equipment are showcased. I also invest in training each year and am constantly adding to my skill set and knowledge base. There is always so much to learn and try differently in photography. I think it’s important to never stop learning.
What’s your advice for someone who would like to do your job one day?
Be prepared to work hard. And to work unusual hours. It’s definitely not a 9-5 job. You could be photographing a wedding at weekends and events in the evenings. Also, it’s important to realise that a lot of hard work goes into marketing your business as you need to keep on top of SEO, your website and social media channels in order to keep your brand presence high.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Photographing so many brides and grooms getting married is a constant highlight for me. It’s such a privilege to capture such special moments for a couple on their wedding day. When I’m photographing a wedding I’m in my happy place. And something that I feel very proud of is that I’m a volunteer photographer with the Butterfly Wishes Network – a charity that offers free photoshoots to families with children with life-limiting and terminal conditions. Photographing a family knowing that in some cases the child will not survive the end of the month is absolutely heart-breaking and emotionally one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But to know that the family are getting such special images is a feeling you just can’t put into words.
A huge thank you to Tessa Clements for sharing her photography expertise with us today! We have learnt a great deal from her about what makes a fabulous image.