Coralee & Alex de Freitas
Alex and Coralee are a duo team that work together doing what they love. Their passion and drive for photographing peoples weddings is reflected in their work. Candid and personal imagery is their specialty. They love meeting people and looking forward to further travel later this year, where they will be capturing couples special days in exotic places around Europe.
Where are you based?
We are based out of our studio/apartment space in Grey Lynn. Kindly rented to us by Alex's mum for what might be considered a crazy awesomely good deal.
How long have you been a photographer?
We've both been making photographs pretty consistently since our school days. Coralee still fondly remembers her high school photography classes. Alex only seems to remember skipping school to go surfing, but the bathtub in his family home was never for bathing, it was a makeshift darkroom where his artistically inclined mum and brother would hand-develop their films.
Tell us a little about your style of photography.
A few years ago as we began to photograph weddings and portraits professionally, we didn't really have a set 'system' or a style to abide by. When we look back on our early work that really shows. Our style was fresh and fun, personal and candid. Every day was different and we never fell into any routine. Now we're more experienced, we deliberately try and forget all the shoots we've done and approach each one like we did when we first started. We spend as much time before the shoot as possible with our couples, so that when we're photographing them, they are relaxed and it's like we're hanging out with old friends.
What gear do you use?
We primarily use Canon 5DmkIIs. We now own most of the fast Canon primes which we share between us, the 50mmf1.2, 85mmf1.2 and 35mmf1.4 are definitely our favourites! As much as we'd like to be completely reliant on fixed focal lengths, we still like 24-70mm f2.8L for its flexibility. We have one each! Outside of weddings Alex has made a pact to himself to only shoot film. 99% of the time he shoots with two Canon EOS33/Elan7 film bodies, but he has a serious addiction buying vintage cameras on TradeMe. Every now and then he whips out the Mamiya 645 Super if he's feeling rich, and we're constantly shooting Fuji instant films wherever we go. We especially love the Instax Wide!
What is/has been your greatest challenge as a photographer?
Our greatest challenge over the past 12 months has been making the transition towards both being completely full-time in our business. Previously we'd been supplementing our income with other jobs. Having to learn the business side of things, hiring accountants, and keep up with the processing and editing of multiple weddings per week, have all been challenging. These are all relatively new things to us. But we're busy and that can only be good!
What do you feel has been your greatest photographic achievement to date?
We are ridiculously excited about travelling to Europe for the 2012 summer to photograph a handful of weddings over there. Neither of us has even visited Europe before, we're pretty stoked to be able to go and photograph in some extremely exotic locations. Honestly, we still feel like complete 'newbies' at this whole thing. It will be nice to look back on our body of work in a few years and reflect on all the great people we've been blessed to spend time with and call it a job. Our favourite thing about this industry is definitely the great people we get to meet on a daily basis!
If not a photographer, where would you see yourself?
Prior to Coralee ditching her job and going full-time with our photography, she was a secondary school teacher. I think her worst fear was that she'd be trapped in the classroom working 9-5 for the rest of her life. She doesn't even want to think about what she'd be doing otherwise! Alex has recently put on hold his nearly completed Doctoral degree in Geography. He always pictured himself as an academic, but thinks he'd probably just be hanging on some random beach somewhere surfing and playing music.
If the chance arose, who or what would you most like to photograph?
Before we truly knew what we were doing with our cameras, we were lucky enough to visit Cuba. We both secretly want to head back there and experience the country again with our newfound passion for image making. Less beach time and more photography explorations!
What tips or advice do you have for budding photographers?
We still definitely consider ourselves to be budding photographers, so not really sure that we are the ones who should be dispensing advise. But Alex's advice would be to photograph everything. Never leave home without your camera! And Coralee's advice - always be confident in your work, even if you're not feeling so. Jump on in to the big scary jobs. Face your fears! We were far too insecure about our own skills at first, and missed out on some great opportunities for work because of it.
Has the advent of digital been beneficial or detrimental to professional photographers?
While we do shoot film at weddings, 90% of our professional work is done with digital cameras. Honestly, digital gives us an opportunity to shoot 10 frames of the same moment and select the exact right one we want. In tough lighting situations, digital allows us to shoot a frame, review it, and re-adjust our exposure accordingly. With that said, it's for those same reasons we are in love with film. The thought we're forced to put into every exposure, the romance of waiting for films to develop, and we love that sometimes with film it might be more acceptable for an image to be soft or un-focused. In digital photography we get way too hung up on sharp, crisp, technically correct exposures.
Can you see clients moving from stills to video, with the advent of HD video capabilities in digital SLRs?
You'd be surprised at how much we're asked to shoot videos at weddings too. We have, and we can, but we still prefer not to. A large part of our candid documentary type style comes from the two of us being in different places at once. There has definitely been a shift towards moving images. Sometimes we feel they can be more captivating when shared via the web. But we're still on the search for that perfect still image. Hopefully clients will continue to appreciate the impact of that one stunning still image too.
Are you a fan of using flash in your work?
We use flash. When we have to. But yeah, we're pretty terrified of it. It's challenging when out and about to use flash and keep things looking soft and natural like we want to. We've been known to bust out a big reflector every now and then, does that count!?
If you can change one thing about the world, what would it be?
This is a tough one. But the disparities between the wealthy and the poor on a global scale are pretty concerning, so is hunger. They're both issues we honestly do think about a lot.
What do you do to get away from the grind/to de-stress when things get too hectic?
Our biggest struggle has been both living and working from the same place. We could definitely benefit from a more separate workspace. Someday eh! When things get too hectic we basically drop everything we're doing and head to the beach. We're pretty addicted to a few good TV series' and they help pull us through after a long day in front of the computers.
Who has been your greatest influence / role model?
There are so many celebrity photographers out there these days. We're inspired by them just like everyone else is, but I think having a great circle of peers to encourage and push each other has been great for us. We're all good friends- Sutherland Kovach Studio, Vela Images, Claire Mossong, JEL Photography, Dilworth Photography, Danelle Bohane, Bayly & Moore, Helena Sophia Photography and BubbleRock Studios just to name a few!