Interview with: Kristian Leven
Company Name: Kristian Leven Photography
Location / Coverage: London, UK, Destination
How did the business get started and who works at Kristian Leven Photography?
I think the same way many of these photography businesses have started recently – having a passion for storytelling and taking pictures, and realising one of the best events to express that is on a wedding day. At the time I didn’t know that, but I took my camera to a friend of a friend’s wedding, uploaded the pictures to Facebook and got a response that made me feel I might be onto something! On a wedding day it’s just me, as I like to keep things as informal and relaxed as possible, and I feel that when there’s another photographer, guests can start to feel they’re being ‘photographed’, and I just want them to continue enjoying the day and forget I’m there.
Had you always wanted to be a photographer?
Funnily enough, no! I did always like to be the centre of attention growing up though, and actually wanted to be an actor, but quickly realised I probably wasn’t as good as I needed to be. When I think about it, it’s strange that I fell into documentary photography where, whilst there’s a need to be in the centre of the action, you’re very much trying not to be the centre of attention.
Which areas of the UK do you cover?
All over 🙂
Can you remember how old you were when you took your first picture? What was it of?
I actually thought about this the other day, and got it down to when I was 7, and being handed the expensive looking camera on the table by my Uncle, I think. We were all outside in the garden and I just took pictures of the trees, the sun in the sky and my cousins running around in the grass.
How would you describe your photography style?
Unobtrusive, natural, emotive.
What do you feel will set you apart from other wedding photographers?
I guess I’m someone who focuses on the story, and keep the B&G shots to a minimum. I don’t want to turn the day into a fashion shoot; I like to concentrate on the human element, and the relationships and interactions we have with each other.
What packages do you offer and what are your rates?
I used to have time-based packages, but I felt everyone got a lot more out of the day when I was there the entire time. That way couples didn’t have to stress about how long I was there for, and I could relax and know I had a full day to tell the story properly. For 2013 bookings the Full Day rate is £1800, which means I’m there when the couple feel I need to be there, and I leave once all the evening action is well underway.
What is the best thing about the job?
I’m a bit of a softie to be honest, and I’ll have to say one of the best things is being there for the groom’s speech. I’ll admit, I have been known to well up behind the camera when I hear the groom bearing his soul to the room about the woman sat next to him. It’s an incredibly moving experience.
Do you have a specialist area of photography?
Any kind of documentary photography, whether it’s travel, wedding or street.
Who/what are your influences?
They change all the time really; I’m constantly keeping an eye out for great photography. When I first began I never looked at wedding photography for inspiration, but it’s incredible how high the standard is now to when I first started. It helps raise my game and keep me pushing on, being inquisitive and always aiming to reach the next level.
Do you have a favourite picture that you have taken (If you can choose!)?
Wow, that is such a toughie. It’s not necessarily my favourite, but it’s one that pops into my head when I think about my portfolio. It’s a picture of two toddlers sleeping on a wooden cabinet during the evening reception. It was taken in November 2009, at the very first wedding I photographed. I remember subsequently getting asked a lot if I placed them there, but that’s exactly how I found them. In many respects it encompasses my aims on a wedding day – to take pictures that aren’t necessarily wedding pictures, but a snapshot in time. This moment also taught me two valuable lessons – to always be aware, and to never go anywhere without a camera around my shoulder.
What is your top tip for choosing a wedding photographer?
Make sure you know the style that you want, not what’s fashionable or trendy today, or what your family or friends want for you. It will make such a difference to the experience you have, and you’ll enjoy the day all the more for it.
Random question… If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Two countries came to mind when I thought of that – Argentina and New Zealand; two of the most picturesque countries I’ve ever had the fortune of going to.