Chitter Chatter is a series I’m running all about inspirational women in the wedding industry whom I greatly admire. These women successfully combine running their own business with married life and, in a lot of cases, raising a young family. The ‘Chitter Chatter’ twist is is they have to answer my questions in just 140 characters or less….
Today I’m chitter chattering to Claudine Hartzel, the award-winning London-based wedding photographer and much-loved Smashing Supplier. Claudine is Jewish herself, and has photographed hundreds of ‘I-Do’s’ (many of them being Jewish weddings) in the UK and beyond. I’m a huge fan of her beautiful reportage photography, and her weddings have graced many a page of Smashing The Glass. Claudine lives in London with her husband (read on for their heart-warming ‘how we met’ love story!) and their two young daughters.
What was your first job?
Working in the print sales room and bookshop at the Photographers’ Gallery. It was a massive inspiration to me, from the work that was exhibited, to the colleagues I worked with.
Tell me more about your career before launching Claudine Hartzel Photography
I worked as an artist for seven years and, after spending a year in Amsterdam on a sabbatical, decided I wanted to become a commercial photographer.
What made you start your photography business?
I really enjoy the pace and emotion all wrapped up in the one day of a wedding, plus I feel as if I have the best of all worlds. As a wedding photographer you shoot still life, fashion and portraiture all in one day!
What inspires you to keep growing and developing your business?
Firstly my family. Technology moves so fast that you have to use it to your advantage — this is very inspiring and exciting. My business is a direct reflection of my personality and this is helpful to keep things into perspective personally, and on a business level.
What obstacles have you overcome along the way?
I would not say they were obstacles, but I took a year out to have my second child. This did mean that I had to build up the business again.
Images by Claudine Hartzel
What is the best opportunity that your photography has brought you?
A lot of freedom. I work the hours I choose… obviously not on a wedding day! I have also photographed Prince Charles.
What’s your best tip for a work / life balance?
Make time for yourself to think on your own.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever been given?
I don’t take anything personally. What you put in is what you get out.
97% of Britain’s small creative businesses are run by women. Why do you think this is?
How did you meet your husband?
At school! He was my first love… we spent 18 years apart and then met again on Facebook. We were married within a year.
What was the highlight of your wedding day?
Getting married with all of my family and friends around.. and the fooooooood, we got married in the South of France.
Was there anything standout about what you wore?
I loved my outfit, and when I got married there was hardly anything that was available that was different or quirky! My earrings were from Butler & Wilson, my bracelet was from Topshop – I still love them.
Looking back, is there anything you would change about your wedding?
My wedding photographer! I went with a local photographer that was recommended by the Chateaux. While he was positioning us I knew the light was in the wrong place.
Claudine on her wedding day
I love many films especially old French films as they are so beautifully shot, I always come away with some ideas. But my fave film is the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I LOVE technicolor so anything filmed on that means I just get lost in all its glory!
Madrid with my husband, and I was photographing a wedding.
If you could be trapped in a lift with any living person who would it be and why?
Tell me something about you that most people don’t know… preferably non work-related
I’m deaf in one ear
What is your guilty pleasure?
What did you do today?
Growing the business and setting up a studio… I’m done on the child front!