I’ve admired Blake and his work for some time now. I’m not only incredibly enthralled by his energetic photography and attitude to business (and a tough business at that!) but the fact that he has an eye for love and emotion like no other.
I’ve been lucky enough to feature his work on the pages of my blog earlier on in the year, and today I’m going one step further, peeling back the layers, peering behind that lens and talking to the man himself.
For those of my readers who might not have heard of you can you introduce yourself — who you are, what you do, and your journey to where you are today?
My name is Blake Ezra, I live in north London with my wife and baby boy, and I’m pretty much addicted to taking photographs. The company I set up a couple of years ago, which now has a permanent studio and dedicated team of photographers and retouchers, photographs all manner of events, from beautiful weddings to corporate dinners and everything in between.
My professional photography journey actually started off in news, where I was thrown into all manner of situations as a full-time press photographer for four years — working for every major national newspaper in Britain and plenty of magazines too. The versatility needed for this type of work has certainly made me a much better all round photographer. I was shooting up to five jobs per day, every day — often on tight deadlines and in pressurized situations. A day could involve an early property shoot, a late morning Royal engagement, and some aerial helicopter based work in the early afternoon, followed by an evening riot!
When my wife and I got married last year, we hired two news photographers to cover the day, such is our belief that those trained in news photography are simply better prepared for any eventuality. I was first asked to shoot a wedding in 2010 (thank you Donna and Mark for taking a risk) and since then word has spread about my approach to wedding photography, resulting in being commissioned to shoot 32 amazing weddings in 2013, and being booked up well in advance for much of 2014 and 2015.
When looking at your images, you always seem to have such a connection with your subjects. Do you have any advice for any photographers struggling to do this themselves?
Excellent photography requires many attributes, and being able to understand the technicalities of a camera is just one of them.
Really get to know your clients, understand what they want from the pictures you’re providing for them. Many of my wedding photography clients have become friends as the process has unfolded, which is a lovely bonus!
What is it about shooting weddings that you love?
As someone who started off in news, there’s so much I adore about shooting weddings.
Much of my work used to involve unsavory characters, with many an early morning standing outside court photographing someone on trial for murder — whereas a wedding is such a happy occasion, when everyone is at their best. The knowledge that these images will remain in a family for generations is also something I never ever take for granted. My news work also used to involve a lot of waiting around, like standing for six hours on a step ladder waiting for a ten second opportunity to photograph President Obama on Downing Street. Wedding photography is full-on, there is always something happening and so much to photograph. In fact I love it so much that I never limit the time I spend at a wedding or afterwards — some of my favourite shots have been taken with a Bride and Groom doing portraits around London at 2am after the guests have gone home!
It’s amazing when a Bride and Groom see their photos and see things that happened on the day that they had no idea about!
What are the biggest mistakes you see wedding photographers making today?
Truthfully, they are too numerous to mention, as the process of being a ‘photographer’ has become so much easier. Once somebody receives a DSLR as a birthday present, and they make a quick website, suddenly they’re a photographer. As the saying goes, ‘Owning a Nikon doesn’t make you a photographer, it makes you a Nikon owner.’ I think it’s important to be extremely critical of your own work, and always strive to create something better than before.
Do you have any advice for anyone starting out in wedding photography?
Learn your craft before agreeing to take on the ultimate responsibility of immortalizing such an important day. Assist other photographers, without financial gain if needs be, and get involved in lots of weddings before agreeing to your first commission — you only get one opportunity and once the day passes there’s no going back.
Too many people starting out effectively run before they can walk. Gain feedback from other professionals without any emotional ties to yourself, too many people rely on family and friends for feedback… they’ll always be your biggest fans anyway, regardless of what you produce. I should know, I have a Jewish mother! A wonderful moment for me came a few years ago when an established professional gave me half an hour of his time, and pretty much slated all my work. He has since apolgised, but his brutal honesty was priceless.
If you were to pick one defining moment in your Wedding Photography career what would it be? Was there a specific moment that made you think you could really make a success of this?
There have been many moments of encouragement over the past few years, but as someone always striving to do things better I’m not sure there has been one defining moment. The closest thing would be when I was asked to photograph a three-day aristocratic Swedish wedding with my team in St. Moritz, Switzerland. The couple had met with many photographers with big names and massive reputations, and I was honoured they selected me.
Every time a couple get in contact and approach me to photograph their wedding, I feel honoured. It’s such a defining day in their lives, being chosen to record it is immensely humbling.
How do you market yourself and do you have any advice for aspiring wedding photographers struggling to get themselves noticed?
We have never paid for advertising, instead preferring to embrace social media and connect with our potential clients in that way. Word of mouth is the best recommendation you can get as a Wedding Photographer.
What’s your favourite part of your job?
That I play a part, however small, in such an important and happy day in the lives of my clients. Witnessing their reactions when I present them with an album or slideshow from their wedding day is also such a pleasure for me.
…And your least favourite?
There aren’t many things that come into this bracket, as I genuinely buzz off photographing weddings, and there’s so much I love about the experience. I suppose one slight ‘least favourite’ is what we call ‘paparazzi wedding guests’. A guest recently asked me, just as the Bride was walking down the aisle towards her Groom, “Can you get out of the way, I’m trying to take a picture with my phone.”
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I’ve been very blessed so far that through my news, editorial and wedding photography career, there have been many highlights. These include covering the Royal Wedding of William and Catherine, seeing my images on the front pages of major newspapers, being commissioned to shoot an aristocratic three day wedding in St. Moritz, and being fortunate enough to photograph some notable personalities I really admire. However, every time I see a Bride and Groom under the Chuppah glancing across at each other, and know that my images will stay with them through to their children and grandchildren, it really is a massive highlight — photographing a wedding is never ‘just another job’.
What inspires you as a photographer, a businessman and a person?
I’m totally inspired to fulfil the faith placed in me by my clients — understanding what they want and surpassing their expectations. This is what drives me on a professional level. Also having recently got married and become a father for the first time, my wife and baby boy inspire me every single day to strive to be the very best I can.
And finally… what’s next for you?
To continue this amazing photographic journey, creating better images every time and doing all I can for my clients.
We’ve also just launched a team of associate photographers, who are either full time members of our team, or photographers I’ve worked with personally on many occasions – selected due to their ability, people skills and style. This way, even if I’m personally already booked up on a particular date, Blake Ezra Photography can cover numerous weddings with the same passion and attention to detail that I bring to everything I do.