Christine Wehrmeier on turning a hobby into a profession

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British born Christine Wehrmeier’s photography career was preceded by working as a Media Executive for BBC. What started as a hobby evolved into a successful wedding and commercial photography career that has taken her from Ethiopia to Cuba and brushed shoulders with Jim Carey. When viewing her images, you can’t help but sense the feeling of light hearted joy and happiness that emanates from her work. Leveraging her social media channels and networks has also garnered her a loyal legion of followers that keep her business in demand throughout the UK. Here’s how she runs her business and why she thinks you shouldn’t follow too many photographers in the social web.

Tell us your story?

I am a self-taught photographer and always had an interest in portrait and travel photography. I fell into wedding photography after a friend asked me to shoot her wedding in 2012 when she eloped in New York. I fell completely in love with it because I realized I could combine portraiture, fashion, reportage and travel all into the one day. Since then my business has grown mostly on word of mouth but I complement weddings by continuing to develop my commercial work so that I have a 50/50 balance between the two.

How do you promote yourself? 

I blog my work on my own website, my Facebook page and all the photography social platforms I know of (Flickr, Instagram, 500px etc). I make sure I have something to share on a regular basis so I can show off what I’ve been doing, keep my audience interested & engaged and show the diversity of my portfolio. It has also proven to have the knock on effect of giving me good SEO which brings traffic to my website. I submit all my weddings to all the major UK wedding blogs as well as international ones and that helps to promote my work. Keeping all my sites up to date and posting regularly are really important because you need to keep your audience interested and it’s easier to build potential business where you already have momentum. Relationships are really important in my work so I make sure I nurture them. People are core to my work, I love working with others and if I have good relationships with my clients I find that I get a lot more recommendations as a result and that is the best kind of promotion there is.

It has also proven to have the knock on effect of giving me good SEO which brings traffic to my website.

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Food market, Omo Valley, Ethiopia.

I took the picture above at a food market in the Omo Valley while hitchhiking across Ethiopia in 2009. Although it’s an old picture, I love this image so much because although it might look posed, it is not at all. There are no roads here so in order to get to the market the tribes have to walk for several days with their goods. They do this every month or more. This girl was just resting in the shade on this very hot day so I asked if I could take her picture sat exactly as she was. I love all the bright colors and how confident she looks in the picture, although she was actually quite shy. The local tribes women have a strong sense of fashion even though they don’t have access to shops. They are very resourceful and find ways to look more distinct to everyone else. Many girls tried to trade items of jewelry with me and you can see that this particular girl found a way to turn a child’s toy mirror into a necklace. She would have made the rest of her beaded necklaces herself.

How do you market yourself? 

As the bulk of my photography up until now has been weddings and portraits, most of my work has come through recommendations. My commercial work has come either through my agency links with Getty or directly via google. I also go to photography conventions, do workshops and masterclasses with experienced photographers and industry professionals to learn new skills and also to network.

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Fashion shoot for a jewelry designer in London.

The shot above was one of the first fashion shoots I did for a jewelry designer in London. We used her sister as the model and used her small house as the location. We wanted it to all be naturally lit so I didn’t use any flash but it was was tough getting enough light in the middle of winter. I love this shot because I was just testing the light while she put on her jewelry. But it was the best shot of the day, it shows the jewelry in a true lifestyle sense and those red lips are just so tantalizing.

Any memorable shoots you want to share?

The day I shot my first wedding Jim Carrey used me as cover to hide from the paparazzi. It was New York City in early 2012 and it was my first trip to the US. I was still a media executive at the BBC and my colleague & best friend asked me to shoot her elopement. We lied to my boss so I could take leave and a week later she said “I do” at NYC Town Hall. The Jim Carrey encounter happened later that afternoon at the hotel where we had afternoon tea. My friend didn’t even know who he was, so when the paparazzi stood waiting at the door as we left the hotel she thought maybe it was for her. Jim followed me out and slipped into his car while the paparazzi were distracted by my glamorous friend with her personal photographer (ie. me). Clever.

I don’t have any images of Jim or that moment because he was behind me, but I do have these beautiful shots of my friends that day. That was an exciting day and I immediately fell in love with shooting weddings (and New York).

The day I shot my first wedding Jim Carrey used me as cover to hide from the paparazzi.

What inspires you? 

When I started out I used to follow many other wedding photographers and blogs for inspiration, but it’s easy to drown in it and I felt it was stifling my own style so I only actively follow a handful of photographers now.

I get most of my inspiration from things that move me, it could be a film, an art exhibition, nature, a song or a fashion magazine. But I think my greatest influence and inspiration are films. One that springs to mind is Lost in Translation or Wes Anderson films, because they have a very strong visual character which I like.

I used to follow many other wedding photographers and blogs for inspiration, but it’s easy to drown in it… so I only actively follow a handful of photographers now.

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Coming into Pinar Del Rio, Cuba.

I have so many amazing landscape travel photos, but I just love this image because when I look at it’s like I’m back there taking this image. Cuba is such an amazing country and I was lucky to visit it last year, I spent 2 weeks cycling around on my own. For the last part I cheated and caught a taxi with some other travelers I met and this was taken coming into Pinar Del Rio. Most people ride a bicycle everywhere in Cuba and there are hardly any cars or traffic outside of Havana. It is quite common to see a family of 3 all on one bike (as captured in this image). The cars are so old and frequently break down (as did ours) but the Cubans are so resourceful and can fix just about anything. It was one of the most memorable car journeys I’ve ever taken.

What type of gear do you use? 

I use a Canon 5D Mark III and various prime lenses including a 35mm 1.2, 50mm 1.4, 85mm 1.2. My most favorite lens is my 50mm 1.4 and I often travel with only that in my bag. It’s so small and light so it has been great for traveling because it’s less to carry, less obvious when I’m out & about and it takes beautiful images. When shooting landscape or evening shots I have my 16-35mm lens with my LEE filters as I just LOVE a long exposure. I love shooting in natural light but I have a set of Elinchrom BXri lights which I use for commercial work. Two great accessories I have are my Think Tank utility belt for carrying lenses and spares on the go and my Rapid straps which takes the strain off my back/neck.

How would you describe your visual style? 

I’d say my style is relaxed yet creative. For me it’s about storytelling, which means I will shoot wide to get the environment & context then come in close for all the little details and emotion of a moment. Someone told me recently that my work has an editorial feel to it.

I shoot mostly with natural light. I love to shoot directly into the light to get some nice flare or use the shade to make use of dark shadows. I also love long exposure shots for my travel and landscape photography and have taken many sunset/nighttime shots around the world.

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I love the wedding shot above that I took in a London pub last year. It was a beautiful sunny day and the pub was located directly next to a big park. Most wedding photographers would have the instinct to go outside and take pictures in the park. But the bride was far too glamorous and cool for pretty park shots so I asked the pub if I could look around their building for somewhere to take a picture. I found a disused ballroom upstairs, it was full of stacked chairs and other furniture in storage, but I thought it was perfect. I just asked Lauren to stand in that spot and wham! got this awesome shot. She looks amazing.

mypicChristine is an ImageBrief Premium Photographer.  For more of Christine’s work, check out her ImageBrief Profile, website, Facebook, 500px, Flickr and Twitter.

Ken Pao is the Director of the Premium Accounts at ImageBrief. As a pro photographer himself, he is thrilled to be working with some amazing ImageBrief Premium Photographers and connecting them with some of the top ad agencies, publishing houses, brands and magazines of the world!

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About Ken Pao

Ken Pao is the Director of the Premium Accounts at ImageBrief. As a pro photographer himself, he is thrilled to be working with some amazing ImageBrief Premium Photographers and connecting them with some of the top ad agencies, publishing houses, brands and magazines of the world!