Eva is a professional photographer based in the sunny Hawkes Bay. She enjoys photography because...
Where are you based?
I was born and bred in Hawke's Bay and after a stint away I came back. It's the wine capital of New Zealand. Wasn't a hard choice!
How long have you been a photographer?
I started as an assistant to Richard Brimer in 2005 and Eva Bradley Photography was launched in 2008. We now do about 60 weddings per year, along with family, commercial and media photography.
Tell us a little about your style of photography.
To me a great image must have emotion and a sense of joy. I seek out candid moments between people, and this means a style that stems from having a laugh with my subjects so they are comfortable letting their personalities show. It's about images that record how you felt during a special time, not just a record of how you looked. With my weddings I also like images with drama, so big landscapes and emotive low lighting.
What gear do you use?
I'm a Canon girl. I've never used anything else because I've never needed to. We have two 5DmkII's and a 7D and I'm waiting for Graham to offer me a deal I can't refuse for the 5DmkIII which I hear is amazing for the low light photography I do a lot of. My favourite lens is the universally popular 70-200 2.8IS. From a news job to a wedding, I'm always pulling it out.
What is/has been your greatest challenge as a photographer?
Ensuring I run a professional and financially viable business so that I can continue to pursue my passion in a sustainable way. It's a challenge I really enjoy and a great foil for the creative aspects of my job.
What do you feel has been your greatest photographic achievement to date?
Whilst I've won a few awards here and there and I'm stoked that we are really busy, what drives me and makes me most proud of my work is getting feedback from lovely couples and new parents about the joy my images have brought to them. It's cheesy but I feel so lucky to do a job that makes people happy and allows me to feel I am contributing something valuable to their lives.
If not a photographer, where would you see yourself?
Probably still chasing people down in the street! I was a reporter for One News before I 'saw the light'. It offered a great adrenalin rush, and a fantastic wardrobe allowance but it wasn't a job that fed the soul.
If the chance arose, who or what would you most like to photograph?
I've been lucky enough in the past two wedding seasons to photograph the weddings of both my mother and my sister. And next year I am shooting the wedding of one of my best friends (and being bridesmaid, somehow!!) so I would find it hard to top that - a very special privilege. However if Kate and Wills decide to renew their vows or come down under with their first-born I won't turn them down.
What tips or advice do you have for budding photographers?
Don't just be creative, be smart. If you value your work, others will too so have enough pride in what you do to charge accordingly. If you want to succeed as a professional photographer, you have to act professionally. Taking great images isn't enough.
Has the advent of digital been beneficial or detrimental to professional photographers?
Change will always happen and it's how you embrace it that determines your success in any industry. Digital photography has created more competition - anyone with a DSLR and a Facebook page is a 'professional photographer' now it seems. But it has also allowed professional photographers to take their work further and be more in control of the image making process through getting instant feedback on new ideas.
We no longer have to stick with the 'safe shots' because we can instantly see how to tweak a shot to make it work and there's no worry about wasting film. I also love the process of making a good image great in digital post-production and being able to share images online and enjoy the feedback that generates. However digital does allow us to be lazy - especially with correct exposures and ISO capabilities. Nothing beats getting it right in-camera and remembering to pull out the tripod now and again.
Can you see clients moving from stills to video, with the advent of HD video capabilities in digital SLRs?
I tested 'fusion' at the start of the last wedding season and as a professional photographer the main thing I learned was that you can do one thing well, and two things averagely. I got some interesting results that added a little to my slideshow presentations but DSLR video requires a very complex skill set at a professional level.
The best advice I can give to clients wanting video at their wedding is to hire a great videographer. None of my wedding clients have asked for this, and we get clients from right across New Zealand and the world. I think the change may come and we'll adapt when it does but until that time our focus is on stills.
Are you a fan of using flash in your work?
Although I was taught to work with ambient light and have always been a huge fan of reflectors and natural lighting, for the last few seasons I have been using a lot of off-camera flash (pocket wizards) and I definitely consider them an essential part of my kit now, especially for wedding shoots with lots of bright sky in the background or low-light weddings where you simply couldn't create an image any other way. Good use of off-camera flash is often the thing that will separate your work from the next guy.
If you can change one thing about the world, what would it be?
I feel like I'm in a beauty pageant being asked this! Of course my answer is the same as most people: an end to war and poverty.
But if I were to be a bit more specific I would love to see the brakes put on our dangerous and sad obsession with individual needs and wants instead of the collective. If we all put others first now and again, the world would be in a far better state.
What do you do to get away from the grind/to de-stress when things get too hectic?
Anything that doesn't involve a camera! I make a point of enjoying my spare time without a camera in hand. I love shutting the studio early in winter and retreating under the duvet with junk food and a good book, and in summer when I don't have much spare time I enjoy going sailing after work in my lovely little 18ft yacht. Nothing puts life in perspective like the sound of nothing but the wind in your sails as the city gets smaller and the horizon wider.
Who has been your greatest influence / role model?
Although he possibly doesn't realise it and didn't intend it, I owe everything to Richard Brimer who is a hugely respected New Zealand photographer based here in Hawke's Bay. He let me tag along and be his lighting girl at all his weddings and was incredibly generous with his time and most importantly showed me how vital it is to build a great rapport with your subject. He also taught me to shoot 'old school', and how to use natural lighting - simple but timeless techniques.
I have developed my own style since working for him but will always have a strong foundation from the skill set he taught me. I now get most of my inspiration from following photographers I admire via Facebook and more recently Pinterest. The Internet is a wonderful portal to meet other professionals and learn from them.
View Eva Bradleys website