Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard, like a lot of wedding photographers, came from a very different field before starting his business. Now he captures incredible photos of couples in some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world.

Jim, you were a professional snowboarder before becoming a professional photographer. That's quite a jump (apologies the pun) - how and why did you make that transition?

Well it didn't happen overnight. Vicky and I kinda reached the pinnacle of the Instructing ladder without getting into administration roles. After more than a decade of swanning around the world, we were ready to start a family and build ourselves a nest. We settled in Queenstown, NZ and pretty much did anything it took to keep ourselves afloat.

We never set out to run a wedding photography business; it just evolved that way.

To be fair it was a reasonably uncomfortable time (career wise) and in hindsight it was probably a good catalyst to find something that would drive us mentally as well as financially. We never set out to run a wedding photography business; it just evolved that way. Looking back to what we've done in our careers, it actually makes a lot of sense that we do what we now do.

How did we become professional photographers? Took lots of pics, posted them on Facebook, then friends asked us to shoot them and/or their businesses, events, weddings etc etc. Before we knew it, something had to give, either the Full Time reasonably good job or Photography. You know what won.

Do you still hit the snow fields?

Yup! Our house is about 15 minutes from the nearest ski field and there's another three within an hour's drive.

There's nothing better than doing something you love deeply, purely for the enjoyment of it, not being worried about being judged by others or with the best technique.

I love getting up on the snow in winter for a few hours in the morning and then back to the computer by midday. There's nothing better than doing something you love deeply, purely for the enjoyment of it, not being worried about being judged by others or with the best technique. Just shredding for the pure whoop factor, it's a good thing to take into photography too.

How have you found moving your photography from a personal passion to a professional one? Do you still shoot as much recreationally? Has the way you approach photography changed at all?

Well photography was an important creative tool for us as we traveled around the world. Both Vicky and I had a good eye for it and we loved documenting what we saw.

When I started shooting weddings it was pretty much straight into it, our own weddings. So there was no mental shot list (must have/safety shots); I just shot what unrolled in front on me.

We were pretty passionate about being genuine to what we liked and loved, I think that has certainly helped us. Sure I think we're mindful about clients needs and current trends, but that's no different to how we operated as Snowboard Instructors/Coaches.

In a nutshell, no I don't think we're that different from say 15 years ago, though probably better photographers - I hope. Yeah we still shoot a lot outside of work, mostly the kids, friends or the landscapes around us.

After running your business for the last 5 years or so, what do you find to be the most challenging aspect of the industry? Have you worked out how to overcome it?

I think the most challenging aspect is controlling self doubt. It's a swine of a thing that pretty much all creatives encounter. I think we've got it worse now days with social media "judging" us constantly through "likes", add to that the traditional "I'm a fake" syndrome it's really tough.

How do I overcome it? Hmmm, I guess no one really does. We may learn to push it down deep through confidence learned through experience and education, but I think it's always there, brewing away. It's also a healthy thing, it keeps me on my toes when I'm shooting and stops complacency from taking root.

You manage to find the most amazing landscapes - any secrets? Are they all your old snowboarding haunts?

Ok well, first up I love landscapes and I love every type. I'd be quite keen on being a landscape photographer in another life (without kids, mortgage etc). People talk about the "hero shots" being fake or convoluted. The way we see it, it's about a couple being alone for the first time as a married couple and enjoying that moment somewhere incredible.

I think there's nothing worse than doing the same old thing again and again, no matter how epic.

I'm always scouting, when I'm driving to supermarket, studying maps, you name it (we're damaged goods as a good friend/fellow photographer told me). This flows from the previous question about being challenged. We made a business policy to try to not shoot the same location twice, or at least only once per season. I think there's nothing worse than doing the same old thing again and again, no matter how epic. It gets stale and you get too comfortable. It's not fair to your clients and definitely not to yourself as a creative.

It's pretty challenging, especially with a lot of local weddings, but so far, it's worth it. All the locations are new to me since becoming a wedding photographer, but without a doubt the past life living in mountains has played a huge part in what we do and where we go.

Your wife Vicky plays a pretty big role in the business too - did you work together prior to starting the business? Do you find that it impacts your lives outside of work at all?

Vicky and I have worked together in various roles, we ran a chalet in the French Alps when we were freshly married, I was also her boss at one ski resort. We work pretty well together, I think.

Yeah it's massive having Vicky onboard. It means I can just concentrate on scouting / shooting / editing / networking. It also means Vicky can work around our two kids. I find myself doing 70+ hours a week in Summer, so at least one of us can be focusing on them. So there is that positive impact outside of work.

I have to say I do prefer keeping the actual wedding shoots to just me, not only from a family point-of-view but I prefer the dynamic with the couple and guests.

Snapshot

Who are your creative heroes?

What do you love the most about where you live?

Queenstown is a pretty unique place, International Airport, amazing shops, cafes, restaurants, lakes and ski resorts. Yet within a 10 minute drive you’re in wilderness. New Zealand is very special, the most incredible diversity of landscapes, underpopulated and typically understands the importance of good coffee and beer.

What are you reading at the moment?

I’ve just got tired of reading books on my iphone, so started rereading my old books. Currently working through Tom Clancy’s old work.

What are you watching at the moment?

Just started Breaking Bad, True Detective (Season 2) and Vikings.

What are you listening to the moment?

Top 3 visited websites (not including social media)?

Favourite memory from a wedding?

Ha, I was at this wedding over on the West Coast of NZ. It was such a magnificent coupling of 2 opposite worlds. The Groom was a Bush Helicopter pilot from there and the Bride a high level CEO from Singapore. The ceremony took place on this rickety wharf over a muddy lake. As the Best Man handed over the ring he dropped it!

It hit a plank bounced over the gap, then hit another, everyone holding their breath, total silence as we all watched the ring bounce from plank to plank. Then it finally stopped on a plank near the edge. The Best Man ran over grabbed it and held it up for all to see. I have this wonderful image of everyone laughing hysterically with relief, everyone that is apart from the Bride. You can see her clearly mouthing "You f^&kig C#&K!!!" to the Best Man.