Q & A
How long have you been a professional photographer?
I have been doing photography since I am 12 but really got the bug when I was 16. After passing my A level I decided to study Art and Photography. I graduated from La Sorbonne University, Paris with a BA of Theory and Art Practice. At the same time I passed the exam to study at the prestigious Ecole des Gobelins. After 2 years of intense studying and practice I eventually left with 2 diplomas and worked for the best labs like Ateliers Janjac, Pictorial Service and finally Imaginoir. After a couple of years of working for the best photographers in fashion and reportage I decided it was about time to take my chance and become a freelance photographer myself. My intention was to move to New York but I made a first stop in London and haven't left since, it was in 1998. After few months of various little jobs I applied to an ad looking for documentary photographers. I started working for an up and coming agency called Contre-Jour which specialised in real life weddings. I became a main photographer within 3 months and officially turned professional in 1999.
What equipment do you use?
I am a Nikon person and I always try to find the best equipment that suits my practise, not the trend. The latest equipment is not necessarily the latest. I always bring 2 bodies, 3 lenses, 2 flashes. There is also an old analogue lens somewhere in my bag in case the new technology goes berserk. I use Adobe Lightroom for editing and Elements for retouching eventually. I am not one of those photographers who shoot first and think later sitting in front of the computer. My approach is very much old fashioned and crafty
in a sense that you should have it right when you trigger the shutter. Emotion, framing, lighting and timing must all collide in a fraction to deliver the best result as I capture a moment.It's a skill, it's a craft.
But before all, it's all about the eye.
Do you retouch and manipulate photographs?
Yes, I do retouch my pictures. I must correct the lighting, contrast, colour balance, etc.. because digital technology is not as straight forward as you might think. There is a certain gap between what you think is in the can and what ends up on the screen.
So my job is to re-align the truth distorted by the digital medium. Sometimes I have to crop slightly the picture but most of
the work I do on the computer is called "spotting", removing unwanted dust, skin spots etc...
NO, I certainly do not manipulate my images, it's against my religion! I do not do Fantasy Imagery.
The beauty is everywhere, it is my job and duty to capture it for you.
Do you stage photographs?
I do not stage a wedding or event for photographic purposes. I do reportage or what we call real life photography.
It means that I need to be alert constantly and capture the best moments in a natural way. That implies to be always observing 360 degrees, react and anticipate very rapidly. That said when it comes to weddings and bar mitzvahs especially it is necessary at some point to orchestrate a session of formal group shots which are in some ways as valid as the others but for different reasons.
I will always invite families to do them as if not performed, will leave an emotional gap and bitter disappointment. On a different note I could also mention that a lot of "wedding reportage" photographers are actually staging a lot of their work so that it looks good on their website. If you see a small stiff couple in the middle of a vast landscape or architecture, and that everything looks perfect, they are more likely to be amateurs with great Photoshop skills. Don't even go there, trust me.
What makes a good photographer?
It's a vast question but you have to go along with the essentials. Experience of course, but not always especially as you get on the ladder. Passion, motivation, knowledge, understanding, respect, creativity and distance at the same time. I always tell my clients that I am working on their behalf, or that we are working together on a project. If you meet a photographer with a strong ego, that's a bad sign. You want someone who listens, observes and becomes almost like a member of the family. You want to trust and rely on that person and he/she has to become your "third eye" Then, he/she has to perform on the day and deliver both quality AND quantity. This is for me a very strong point that most people seem to forget. Quantity as diversity, not repetition, is as important as quality. It is a mental and physical exercise that must be performed endlessly in order to deliver the best.
Why don't you show your prices on your website?
I am not doing it for two simple reasons. Confidentiality: my prices are mine and they have been designed after years of practice.
I do not wish to align my fees on the mainstream. Quality: I want you to contact me and ask me to send you a price list because
you like my work, not because I offer a cheaper deal. I have been doing it for 20 years and have had the privilege to work
with a lot of nice people. It's a mindset!
What happens if you can't make it on the day?
I have a couple of very talented photographers on the lookout. I gave a wedding away only once because of a broken knee otherwise I have always attended my assignments on time (in fact people know me for being always early)
Where are you based? How far will you travel?
I am based in East London and I work worldwide. I have been travelling all around UK as a wedding photographer.
I do weddings in France and Italy regularly. I also went to Tanzania and Zanzibar. Distance isn't a problem
but it's more about time and finance. Most of my work remains in London though.
Do you have an insurance?
Yes, I am covered and have Public Liability Worldwide. I wouldn't be as worried as back in the film era but there is always
a potential margin for error. Nothing and nobody is perfect. That said the chances of having materials lost are
extremely remote nowadays. Nevertheless I would strongly recommend you back up your photographs on 2 separate hard drives
on top as your desktop hard drive. If you eventually loose them you can always contact me to obtain copies.
But as a general advice I would suggest you purchase some kind of cover if you are planning a wedding, bar mitzvah or big event.
Do you meet with us before?
When it comes to wedding the new trend is to book photographer without having met which I personally disagree with.
If you live in Greater London I want to show you my work face to face as the human interaction is an important step to build confidence between the two parts. It is vital that we trust and understand each other in order to have the best of days.
I would also recommend to meet up if you wish to organise a bespoke bar mitzvahs. Alternatively if you plan a more standard one
a call or video will be enough. For all other type of assignments meeting up isn't necessary.
How long will it take to receive my pictures?
For weddings and bar mitzvahs it usually takes 10 days to edit. For all other assignments it takes a week.
To make a book takes more time but generally speaking 3 weeks from selection to delivery.
How do I receive my pictures?
Weddings and bar mitzvahs photographs always come as a USB stick in a box holder. Most other assignments will be saved
on a DVD or transferred online. When it comes to books I use Blurb which is a great platform and compromise
between quality and budget.
My option doesn't include a book but I want one. Can I order one separately?
Yes, of course you can. Not all of my packages include an album because I want to make it as fair as possible.
Some people are keen book designers and want to do their own which I am very happy with.
Some others ask me to make books from personal archives. I love making books. Just ask me what you are after.
Do you post our pictures on Facebook or social medias?
I will never do such a thing. Whether you are a celebrity or not your privacy is golden and safe with me. It is against my ethics to put people's privacy at risk. The very few images from each assignment I use are "neutral" and are destined to illustrate my blog and show my activity for promotional purposes. That applies to my Instagram account too (two.exposures) If images were to be published nationally on paper or online, I would inform first the persons concerned, ask for permission and let them deal with the publishers directly. I only wish to have my name 2exposures credited, that's all.
Do you have a password protected online gallery where guests can purchase pictures?
I don't do online galleries for various reasons. First, you have paid for my service to capture your special day from which you will receive all the materials retouched to their best. From that day on you own the copyrights and are free to use them the way you want. You can copy, share, print, etc...they are yours and you are free to use them the way you want. I always found it unfair to charge people more money on top of the wedding fee especially as a guest. If you want me to make some copies for you I can do it for a small price. Also I enjoy the best my photography as a one-off performance. To make extra income from petty business isn't me and I have plenty of other projects to work on.
Is it your full time job?
Yes, it is and it has been for more than 20 years. I did a few odd jobs in my early days in UK and they were the best experience to improve my English and learn about Britishness. But I became very busy and it has taken the whole of my time since. I have other professional activities but they are all related to Photography.
What is your payments policy?
For weddings a booking fee of 50% is required followed by another 50% just before the wedding. If your wedding takes place away and requires extra expenses that will be paid at the delivery. For Bar mitzvahs the 50% booking fee remains upfront.
The other 50% can be paid after the event but before delivery. For Funerals it is 100% upfront.
For all other assignments full payments are to be made at delivery.
You receive confirmation letters and contracts all along the way with all my jobs.
Do we have to pay VAT on top?
No, you don't. So far I have managed to keep my business turnover under that VAT ceiling.
So the price I give you is the final price.
What sort of other things do you do?
I am also an artist photographer, curator and analogue Photo Booth technician. I have always been doing personal projects aside because I can't help it. It feeds my brain and my commercial work at the same time. I can't think of myself being a commercial or wedding photographer only. You can see my art work here www.davidboulogne.com
Have you ever been an assistant before turning professional?
Not really. L'Ecole des Gobelins is a professional school and very hands on so there was a lot of practice.
I studied first the lab side of Photography as I wanted to understand what happens after taking a photograph.
Later, working in labs helped to analyse in private the works of the greats in Fashion and Reportage. Eventually before leaving Paris I was offered a position as main assistant for one of the best fashion/portrait photographer of the 90's.
I declined the offer despite a huge respect for him in order to start my own story. A lot of my practice comes from understanding Masters' paintings, reading photographers and my own experience of the street.
I am a big admirer of Raymond Depardon.
Do you have an assistant on weddings or bar mitzvahs?
No, I am mostly working by myself but extra help can be found whether it's for a couple of hours or a full day.
I know 2 very good photographers who are happy to help for a bespoke fee.
I love running and hiking (very important to keep yourself fit when you do photography)
I am always following the art and music scenes. Love concerts, cinema and reading.
Are all those pictures we see on your website yours?
Yes, they are definitely mine. Sadly, nowadays with many website builders you can either buy very cheap or even use materials for free to illustrate your business. That's how far and low the industry has become.
I would never display someone else's work for pretence.
What sort of assignments does 2exposures offer?
There is what you can see in my categories but in reality there is a lot more versatility to it. It starts with Weddings and there are various backgrounds and religions to consider. I do standard Church of England, civil ceremonies, civil partnerships, Jewish weddings, Indian weddings, Greek weddings, Humanists weddings, Mixed Race weddings, African weddings, Asian weddings, Roman church weddings, etc..from here I do Bar mitzvahs, Bat mitzvahs, Brit milahs, Baptisms, First Communion. Then we enter the Events world and that can be anything really. It can be an Engagement Party, an Awards Ceremony, a Birthday Party, a Wedding Anniversary, a Book Signing, a Conference, a Dinner with Speeches, you name it. Then portraits, for Singers, Actors, Musicians, Writers, Artists etc..but also Corporate ones or Formal ones. And finally Funerals which are different from one to the other. From preparation to Burial followed by Wake.
What advice would you give to make most of our day?
I would suggest you book the best suppliers you feel confident with. People you feel you can trust and rely on, people who listen and who are within your budget. Be organised so that you can enjoy the last few days free of unnecessary stress. Be ready to experience some last minute disappointment because this is life. Very often for some weird reasons the water stops working at your parents where you are getting ready, or someone has a puncture on the way to the church, etc...
there is nothing you can do about it and that's ok. One subject I am quite outspoken about is the use of mobile phones.
Not that I feel jealous that guest are taking videos of photographs. The trouble nowadays is that if one person starts using it everybody follow and you have an environment full of mobile phones which isn't great for your pictures. I would always strongly recommend that you make your event a mobile phones free zones, meaning they can use it as an emergency but not for pictures or social medias etc...especially at bar mitzvahs where most teenagers are glued on their device. As a result my job is really limited and difficult and you might find yourself on social medias without knowing it. Finally and most importantly - RELAX and embrace every minute of the celebration with your friends and loved ones.