Hey Gatis. Where are you based and how did you end up there?
I was living in London for a while. Later moved to Isle of Man (a very beautiful place, by the way), but at the moment I'm based in Latvia. I love to travel, so I can't be sure where my passion for photography drags me next. The whole world is my playground, I guess.
What inspired you to become a professional photographer?
I'm an aesthete. Photography has always been a great way to express myself, but the step to professional career came a bit unexpected. Back in 2007 I was asked to second-shoot a wedding. I had never photographed a wedding before, so naturally I was nervous. But as the day went by, I caught myself thinking that it would be fantastic if I did it again next week. I absolutely fell in love with the idea and, well, here I am now.
Are you self-taught?
Yes. I've always considered visual arts to be more of a 'feeling' than a 'set of rules,’ where one needs to have a lot of knowledge to succeed. If you see the world as a beautiful place, then I'm sure it will translate to photos as well.
Many of your wedding photos look extremely polished and well-lit, almost like advertising or stock images. Do you have any secrets for making your pictures so “clean”?
Thanks. I invest quite a lot of time to achieve that look. But I wouldn't call it a secret. It's just a combination of ambient light and Photoshop. I want my photos to have a certain amount of allure, but the important thing is how they tell the story of the day. I'm a storyteller, you know.
Do you have a favorite lens for shooting weddings?
Yes. I think everybody does. Mine is a Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.4G. I'm extremely impressed by the quality/price ratio of this lens. I realize the lack of zoom would be a deal breaker for some wedding photographers, but for my needs it works like a charm.
Are there any wedding photographers you especially admire?
There are. Jeff Ascough (http://www.jeffascough.com) would be one. His talent to capture emotions and his B/W photo editing is simply breathtaking. Todd Hunter McGaw (http://www.toddhuntermcgaw.com.au) - a very creative photographer from Australia - is another. His photographic compositions are especially top-notch. And of course, I admire my girlfriend, Aiga Redmane (www.aigaredmane.com), as she does fashion photography as well as wedding, and I can always learn a thing or two from her.
Where do most of your wedding clients come from? Do you have a system for advertising?
I don't really advertise myself that much. I guess my clients are happy with the results I give them and recommend me further. One cannot underestimate what power the word of mouth yields.
Do you normally shoot alone or with an assistant or second shooter?
Usually I shoot alone. On rare occasions I get an assistant to help me.
You have some nice fashion photography on your website. Do you ever shoot fashion professionally?
I've never shot any editorial photos professionally. Anything fashion-related I shoot is just for me, like a project. I like the aspect of working with professional models.
How do you keep inspired to shoot between jobs?
Photos in high-end fashion magazines are my main inspiration. I like beautifully lit and edited images.
I’ve heard a lot of photographers say they get burnt out after shooting a lot of weddings. How do you keep the routine fresh?
Well, luckily my routine is fine. So at the moment, I don't worry about burning out. There are always new ways to do things.
What do you love most about your job?
Traveling. I really, really like to travel. Just imagine - the whole day you can do what you love in various locations. And to top it off, you're with people who appreciate your work. How can anyone call that a job?
Do you have any special techniques to make your subjects comfortable with you?
Well, I don't have any techniques, but I always try to create an informal atmosphere. It usually loosens everybody up, which is a good thing. Also, giving my subjects positive feedback helps.
What’s the toughest part of wedding photography?
Oh, this one is easy. Starting one's business. Photography equipment is expensive, not to mention heavy – if one doesn't know the correct poses to shoot in, back problems are guaranteed.
What’s the most stressful situation you’ve found yourself in while shooting a wedding?
I don't think I have ever had a stressful situation while shooting a wedding. I'm a very relaxed person. I come prepared and, so far, nothing has gone wrong. But too much direct harsh sunlight is a situation I try to avoid.
Do you think it takes a special kind of personality to be a successful wedding photographer?
Hmm. A wedding photographer can be almost anyone, but a successful one - now that is a whole different story. You have to have a very serious attitude towards what you're doing, because the pictures are unique and cannot be re-shot. I'd say a successful wedding photographer has to have a thing for business/branding/marketing and a very good perception of what's good photography.
What are your plans for the future?
To improve my portfolio and get my work published in wedding magazines. Also, to work with clients all over the world.
Do you have any advice for wedding photographers who are just starting out?
Yes. Buy high-end fashion magazines. There's a great deal of style and photo ideas in there. If you know your way around Photoshop already, your photo editing and composition skills should skyrocket.
About the photographer
Gatis Locmelis is an award-winning wedding photographer from Latvia. He describes his photographic style as a mixture of photojournalism and detail photography. He uses only natural light in his work. He's a visualist and it's very important to him that his images are simple and captured properly.
Thanks for sharing!
We're really glad that you liked this interview enough to share it, and we appreciate that you did. As a thank you, we'd like to offer you something special: one free month of a Qufoto website.
Awesome! — What's the catch?
There is no catch! When you get started your first 30 days will be completely free. Then you'll be billed at the regular price once per month. If you cancel within the first 30 days, you'll never be charged.
Can I think about it?
Of course. To bring up this offer again, just read any interview and share it using one of the share buttons at the bottom.