Brett Florens has been a professional wedding photographer for the past 25 years. In that time, his career has grown to make him one of the most influential people in the professional photographic industry.
Brett’s work takes him around the world, shooting glamourous weddings and creating beautiful images, setting trends worldwide. We chatted with the Loxley Colour Ambassador to discover how he found his way to wedding photography and what’s next in store for the South African.
Where it all began
Brett’s introduction to photography couldn’t be any further away from his work now. He began shooting videos and images for the South African police riot unit, capturing instances of politically motivated violence during the Apartheid Regime:
“I was thrown in the deep end and learned very quickly how to work under incredible pressure, with attention to detail and tight deadlines.”
His violent initiation to photography seems an unlikely beginning to his successful career, but when his friends and family started to ask him to capture their weddings, he discovered a more enjoyable alternative to photojournalism:
“I started following fellow police officers’ weddings and quite liked the contrast of all the trauma and heartbreak I experienced in my everyday life. It was a convenient genre for me to transition from photojournalism to wedding photography.”
At the moment, he’s travelling around the world shooting gorgeous weddings in exotic locations. One of his favourite jobs was in Zanzibar:
“I shot an incredible intimate wedding on the beach on this magical tropical island. I captured some of my most unique images at this wedding as Nadia, a part-time model, was game for anything. I convinced her to stand on an old tree that jutted out of the sea, she climbed up from a dug-out canoe in her wedding dress, while I shot the images waist deep in the water… The resultant photographs were well worth the effort and earned me an award.”
The positive effect of print
As a successful wedding photographer and a Loxley Colour Ambassador, Brett believes despite the rise in popularity of digital files, providing clients with tangible mementos is crucial to running a business:
“I don’t know of any photographer who has been running a profitable, sustainable business for at least five years that does not insist on producing printed products. It elevates your brand way above the massive influx of shoot and burn photographers.”
This is why Brett works with Loxley Colour, providing clients with high quality products to remind them of their special day is something that is always appreciated:
“The ability to visually take a client through a journey that you have created in print gives you an incredible advantage over the other photographers. The tangible, tactile quality of print helps your client engage and experience your images, rather than swiping over them fleetingly.”
As an Ambassador, Brett works closely with us because we develop innovative products that his clients love:
“I could go on about the paper, the covers, the choices, but the most important attraction for me using Loxley Colour is the human element. The relationship I have built up with them in the past eight years has been amazing.”
From our huge range of award-winning products, Brett offers clients a selection with his photography packages:
“My wedding photography pricing options come with the Bellissimo Perfetto or the Bellissimo Fine Art albums – I love the look and feel of both of these products… The other product that I include in my pricing plans are the Portfolio Boxes. Clients are able to take these boxes to work or book club and the tactile experience of passing photographs around has a certain charm and sense of occasion.”
Now a Nikon ambassador and trainer, he is considered one of the most influential photographers of today. He’s turning his focus to teaching the next generation, hoping they understand the importance of printed images and aren’t too tempted by the convenience of digital files:
“To ensure that your business remains profitable and sustainable, you need to produce a product and experience that someone wants to buy. Gone are the days that you create images that resonate with you and hope that someone else likes your work enough to hire you. You need to do some market research to investigate what is missing in the market and create a product to service that need.”
His advice to those just starting out is to pay attention to these tips and take time establishing your brand before you start taking on jobs:
“I believe that you should master your craft first and get your branding and marketing in order until you are ready to launch your brand to a market that you have researched. If you start shooting for friends and family, you will be trapped in a demographic that expects you to do everything on the cheap.”
It can be tempting to do commissions for friends and family, especially if your business hasn’t taken off yet. However, the photography industry is becoming more and more competitive. When everyone has a camera in their pocket, the value of professional photographers is sometimes lost on customers:
“With the digital age, anyone can profess to being a photographer, because it’s not as difficult as it used to be… You need to target people with more disposable income than you have, otherwise, in this day and age, it’s not a career that can sustain a reasonable standard of living.”
What’s next for Brett?
Brett has begun hosting workshops around the world, teaching people his craft. He hopes to continue working in the education field:
“I am really enjoying teaching and passing on the knowledge I have accumulated over the past 25 years of being a professional photographer. Seeing the impact I am having on other people’s lives is very rewarding. I present lots of workshops and seminars around the world and love doing that, however I am working on a project at the moment which will involve an exotic destination with great speakers. Watch this space!”
If you want to find a Brett Florens seminar near you, or just want to find out what he’s up to next, visit his website to find all his tutorials and keep up-to-date with his latest projects.