Company Name: Robin Goodlad Photography
Interview with: Robin Goodlad
Location / Coverage: Dorset based, but covering the UK and beyond.
How did your business get started and who works at Robin Goodlad Photography?
I first started photographing weddings for family back in the 1990’s. I didn’t know that much about wedding photography back then so I shot what I saw, and my family were really pleased with the results. Little did I know that this would become my documentary style.
Back then I was shooting with film, so every frame really did count, and time and care was always taken to perfect the frame, as film cost money.
I branched out formally in to professional wedding photography in 2001. My experience and style has evolved considerably since then, though I will never stop learning and trying new things.
I occasionally use second photographers to assist me with coverage, but as my name is the brand, it is myself that always photographs every wedding, in my own style.
Had you always wanted to be a photographer?
I did, yes, but back in the 1980’s (I’m showing my age!) the career advice at school was never the best. It ranged from ‘it’s a very competitive market’ to ‘you should look for a “real” job’! As a result I tried many things, but the desire to photograph was too strong.
It has been the one thing that has been a constant through my life, so it was inevitable I would always seek to earn a living this way. A key belief for me now is that happiness comes from doing what you love every day, and I couldn’t be happier!
Can you remember how old you were when you took your first picture? What was it of?
I remember it clearly as it was my 5th birthday. My parents bought me a Kodak Instamatic 126 camera and I took it in to the garden and photographed the Daffodils. Of course film was expensive though, and I was 5, so it was several weeks before I saw the results.
I loved the anticipation of waiting to collect the photos, whether a few days, 24 hours, or the ‘express’ service of just an hour! In today’s instant world it is hard to visualize how exciting this was. I was hooked.
Each film of 36 exposures became a mini project. I would look for interesting things to photograph, and couldn’t wait for the results. Little did I know that I wasn’t just taking pictures, I was developing as an artist.
Which areas of the UK do you cover?
I cover all of the UK, even though I am based in Dorset. I love travelling and photographing exciting venues, wherever they may be. Shooting new venues also allows me to see things with a fresh pair of eyes and to explore my creativity. If I only worked in the same venues week in week out then it might feel like just a job, and I don’t want that.
It is essential for me to feel inspired and excited before every wedding I shoot. I never want to lose that feeling.
Describe your photography studio
My studio is the great outdoors. It is where I love to create all my work, using the best possible natural light and beautiful landscapes. Studios allow you to control the light and background to become constant, and in some ways easy. The real challenge is to find opportunities to photograph everywhere, and knowing how to seek and find the best possible light.
What do you feel sets you apart from other wedding photographers?
There are many photographers out there who’s work I love, and the beauty of photography is that we all have our own unique styles.
For me perhaps it is that I don’t see it as a job. It is something that I love to do that I am fortunate enough to make a living from. When you see it this way, every wedding becomes an opportunity to make some incredible photographs for a couple who have placed their trust in me. Time then becomes irrelevant, and delivering a complete story of the day is the only goal.
I often work 16 hour days, but I love it, and you can’t beat the feeling of knowing you have some amazing photos to show for a hard day’s work.
How would you describe your photography style?
My style is predominantly documentary, or reportage, with a sprinkle of creativity thrown in. This means I am mostly observing, carefully anticipating moments, and ensuring I am in the right place at the right time. But I don’t rely on this, and encourage couples to be in the right place at the right time, perhaps for some spectacular evening light, as I know the photographs will be such an important part of the final collection.
I like to ‘position’ couples in great light with a stunning backdrop, but then rather than posing, it is a case of stepping back and letting them be themselves. This is when the beautiful, natural moments occur for me to capture.
What packages do you offer and what are your rates?
I tend to find packages confusing for couples, as unless you know exactly what you want from your photography it can be hard to choose. My approach is to offer all day unlimited coverage as a base, to which couples can add what they need, right up until a month or so before the wedding. I like to make my coverage as bespoke as possible, as every couple is different, and it is all about finding out about their plans so I can tailor the coverage to suit.
What is the best thing about your job?
For me the best thing about my job is waking up in the morning and having no idea what the specific end results of the photographs will be, what the day might bring, but getting home and knowing I have a great collection of photographs I can be proud of and that my clients will love. It is the ultimate job satisfaction.
Do you have a specialist area of photography?
My specialism is of course reportage wedding photography, but when I am not doing this I always have a camera with me, and my way to unwind and recharge, as well as refuelling my creativity, is through landscape photography. Experience in different genres allows me to draw inspiration and understand the craft and art of photography. It also reminds me that I love what I do.
Have you won any awards?
I’ve been fortunate to win a variety of awards over the years, in a range of genres, which I think illustrates my adaptability and drive as a photographer.
My wedding work has brought Fearless Photographer, Wedding Photojournalist Association, and NineDots awards, and I was Hampshire Wedding Photographer of the Year in 2017.
I am a qualified Associate member of the Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers and also the Royal Photographic Society, an accolade only held by the top 10% of photographers.
In 2016 I won the international Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year ‘Food in the Field’ category, as well as the international Societies of Photographers Pet Portrait Photographer of the Year. I have also been highly commended in Landscape Photographer of the Year for three years running.
Who/what are your influences?
Primarily I think it is my peers. In the days of Instagram it is great to be able to see the work of friends and colleagues in the industry, to see what they are creating in similar circumstances, and to aspire to be better in every way. Other photographers don’t feel like competitors as such, and we often provide feedback on each others work, striving to be better all the time.
There are stand out photographers who have influenced me over time, in particular Sebastiao Salgado and Henri Cartier-Bresson for their documentary work, and the likes of.
Do you have a favourite picture that you have taken (If you can choose!)?
I think it would have to be this one. It is perhaps not technically perfect, but I know exactly what went in to making it, and most importantly, my clients absolutely loved it.
It was one of those days in August where it rained all day, then suddenly the sun popped out right at the end. The venue had limited options for sunset photographs, so I suggested we hop over a barbed wire fence in to some neighbouring meadows to capture the sunset. They were really up for it, and the ushers helped lift the bride over the fence
We found one last pool of sunlight before the sun dropped below the trees, and I positioned the couple and told them to be themselves – no posing. I then retreated and got low with a long lens, waiting for a little magic to happen in the fleeting seconds before the sun was gone.
What I love the most is that this really defines my style – seeking amazing light and opportunities, then letting the couple be themselves. Both I, and they, know that this moment is uniquely them, and the emotion and affection are completely true and genuine.
What is your top tip for choosing a wedding photographer?
If you don’t have a definite photographer in mind then look for photography that you love, and ask yourself why you like it. When you enquire, ask to see a full wedding or two as this will give you a true flavour of the collection you will likely receive.
Also, meet photographers, as getting on and being on the same wavelength is so important, and ask yourself, do they understand you as a couple, your aspirations for the day, and will they convert this in to beautiful photos?
Ultimately though, after careful research, it comes down to gut instinct. Go with who feels right, regardless of cost. The photos are the one true recollection of your day.
Random question… Where is your favourite place you’ve been on holiday?
This is a tricky one! I would say that my honeymoon in the Maldives has to be right up there for pure luxury and a mind-blowing location. However, I think it is edged by autumn family holidays in the Lake District, where the colours and light are incredible for a very short period of time, and the photographic opportunities are endless. All topped off with a cosy pint by a warm log fire!
What’s your typical day like?
In some ways my days can be quite typical, in that I always follow the same rigorous routine of preparation, starting many hours before I am due to begin shooting.
My checklists involve ensuring I have every base covered – plenty of fuel so I don’t need to stop, plenty of food and drink for the day, batteries fully charged, memory cards ready, spares available, a shoot plan for the day which I have compiled from the information sent by my clients, and a clear plan for the weather, traffic, parking, and any eventualities. Removing any worries or things that might add time to my day allows me to focus upon my work behind the camera.
I’ll then arrive at the shoot early to allow for traffic and say hello to the bridal party and family, have a quick chat, and then start when I am due to, if not before.
The day then almost goes in a blur, often up to 16 hours non-stop, flowing my carefully prepared timeline for the day. When my work is done I head home and put my feet up for an hour or so to unwind, whilst all the photos from the day are downloaded and backed up in my archiving system, so I know they are safe. Then it is off to bed!