An interview with luxury wedding photographer Andy Mac

We are thrilled to welcome luxury wedding photographer Andy Mac as one of our newest Loxley Colour Ambassadors. If you’re not familiar with Andy or his work, we thought we’d introduce you to him. Andy chatted with us about his history with photography, his career and how he coped during the Covid-19 lockdown earlier this year and his plans for getting back to business!

When did you first show an interest in photography?

“I grew up by the beach, so I fell in love with surfing and reading surfing magazines, seeing pictures of far-away destinations and travels of new and wonderful places around the world. Surfing magazines wouldn’t just have pictures of the waves, it was also about the adventure, the people, the experience. I guess my love for surfing truly formed a desire to want to travel, and from there a further desire to document those travels.

“I worked for years during my teens washing dishes in the evenings after school and at weekends, saving up for the trip of a lifetime before heading out to university, taking a gap year. That has turned out to be one of the most defining years of my life. I bought an SLR camera and two kit lenses from Canon when I finished school at 18 and set out to travel the world with my surfboards and camera. Since I was using slide film (mainly Fuji Velvia for its richness of colour, capturing the greens and blues of the tropics), it was very expensive to develop, and I wanted to capture the best of my travels, which led me to teach myself as best as I could through books and magazines.

“I returned home, six months and several countries later with around 50 rolls of 36exposure film that I’d carried around in a lead x-ray-proof bag. Thankfully most of the images came out pretty well, but I wish I’d had the immediacy of digital to see how I was progressing, where I was going right and, importantly, where I was going wrong with anything from exposure to composition and more. Looking back, it was a slow way to learn, but it certainly helped to inform which styles of photography became my favourite.”

How did you make that leap from photography enthusiast to professional?

“For the first 10 years of my working life after university, I mainly worked in marketing and advertising, working across a myriad of different industries and being lucky to work for some big firms at quite a high level.

“I eventually went on to run my own marketing and consultancy in London, yet even though I was working for myself there was still something missing.

“I realised I was working for a huge number of hours a week and working out what a lot of other people and businesses want without satisfying what I wanted and loved. I was desperate for inspiration and to recharge that zest for life and I happened to fall in love with a number of images at an exhibition that I went to – Travel Photographer of the Year at the Royal Geographical Society. It was there that I had a bit of a revelation that I wanted to become a photographer. To tell stories that matter in life and to build a human connection, not just sell ‘things’.

“I then found myself doing some marketing consultancy for a rather beautiful wedding venue and I’d taken a few photographs for them. A wedding couple viewing the venue saw those images and met me and I went on to shoot my first wedding.

“I loved it, the emotion, connection, energy and challenges with the diversity in technical knowledge and creative imagination captured me and from there I’ve gone on to shoot some truly wonderful things all over the world.

“The marketing consultancy slowly wound down as the photography business picked up, but honestly, I know that my past career has helped immensely with my photography business and I’m blessed for the way that my career panned out.”

What advice do you have for fellow photographers when it comes to creating photography packages?

“Think really carefully about your DREAM client that you have the skill to satisfy.

“The second point is just as important and often overlooked. We need to identify a dream client and also feel confident within ourselves that we can satisfy that client with our skill and service.

“Once you have clearly established who your dream client is and what they look like and that you can confidently serve them, then think about what your DREAM client’s DREAM photography package could be. This is your biggest, most beautiful collection.

“Think about additional experiences; engagement or pre-wedding shoots, photo signing book for the wedding day, additional hours on the wedding day, albums and wall art for the couple, albums and wall art for the parents, grandparents, friends, etc.

“Scale down from there to your smallest collection that you’d be happy working for and producing. Have some collections in-between. Add enough detail that gives the decisive client the opportunity to book it, straight away. Add enough intrigue that many clients will want to get onto a phone call to discuss and get excited by it.”

When did you start to offer training to fellow photographers?

“This started rather organically over the years where friends would start to ask me for photographic or business advice, then it turned into professional acquaintances in the industry and over time other photographers and filmmakers have actively sought to ask about training even without me promoting it, which has been incredibly rewarding, to be acknowledged and appreciated by my peers in the industry.

“Since Covid, I’ve found that many more photographers and filmmakers recognise that it’s the knowledge of their craft and understanding their customers that will bring the biggest return on investment and secure their future in this creative industry.

“I offer one-to-one mentoring sessions over video calls which are highly tuned to the individual aims and needs of each photographer, allowing lots of time for back and forth questions, and sometimes even setting of tasks and challenges between sessions to specifically practice new skills and knowledge, therefore helping create a bigger, better portfolio and practical application of the topics we discuss.

“I also offer face-to-face workshops in specific relation to weddings, family photography and travel.”

During the lockdown, did you use that time to learn anything new or work on any future projects?

“I’m a great believer that learning about the things that interest and inspire us brings about a greater level of confidence in oneself which then helps us all to see the future with more positivity. It’s also about being able to appreciate the present moment.

“Each day that I learned something new or practiced a skill, I could look back on those days with appreciation for the time that I gave myself to develop and progress.

“Learning about health and wellbeing have been bigger elements that I factored into my life and this has certainly helped. In fact, it has made my learning more efficient which then has a compounded positive effect.

“I’ve used the time to do multiple styled shoots to develop a new style of photography business which is already bringing in enquiries and filling up my calendar faster than the long lead times that weddings have.

“I’ve learned more about the changing mechanisms of social media advertising, keeping and developing a positive mindset amongst apparent chaos, filling the diary with opportunities to learn, network, engage with my customers and also help to inspire and teach others.

“The last of which has possibly been the most rewarding aspect of lockdown as I can see the progress of others and the positive mindset that this helps develops for them.”

What advice do you have for photographers who are trying to get their businesses back to normal post-lockdown?

“In very simple terms, photographers throughout 2020 seem to have fallen into three categories:

  1. Those who have wallowed in the strife of the pandemic situation, watched a lot of Netflix and tried to ignore the situation, or worse, indulged a little too much in the hyper-speculation within social media, made little or no plans for the future and seen their savings and business dwindle.
  2. Those that have struggled and hustled, used free ways of marketing and tried hard at the same old business practices but had little or no successes on their own, still seeing savings and business dwindle.
  3. Those that have observed the situation, pivoted where necessary, learned new ways of doing things, advanced their abilities, skills and craft, created efficiencies for the future and used this time while others are not advertising to market and advertise aggressively with selective skill, filling the calendar with opportunities and sales and are looking forward to the future with positivity and a greater level of confidence.

“There’s only one category that I want to be in, it’s not easy. In fact, it is costly in money, time and effort but also the most rewarding – both emotionally and financially. Without investment in ourselves, in our knowledge, how do we expect to have a better situation?

“A deep question we should all ask ourselves is ‘what am I doing to ensure that everything in my life can have a better future or maintain the joy that I currently experience?’

“As a side point, it’s also more important than ever before to question who we surround ourselves with. If you have friends or family that tend to remind you of doom and gloom, negativity and blame, then it might be worth looking to expand your reach to people that have a more positive outlook and create opportunities that will help leave you feeling better about yourself and the future. Switch your perspective and mindset and anything is possible.”

You might also be interested in…

Signing Book – Perfect for adding into wedding photography packages

Wedding Sample Pack – Everything you need to impress clients

Servicing high net worth clients – Andy Mac’s webinar