Through the Woods we Ran

Glenn and Lauren are the husband and wife duo behind Through the Woods we Ran, soon to be based in the UK. Formerly named Still Love and based in Perth, Western Australia, they’re in the process of moving halfway across the world in the search of amazing light, incredible couples, and somewhere for their cats to get comfortable.

You both had different aspirations before getting into wedding photography - Lauren has a PhD in Social Psychology and Glenn previously worked an office job - why did you make the switch to weddings?

It just kind of snuck up on me. I had a crappy bridge camera that I got just to take photos at Perth Zoo (practically lived there for a year) and somehow jumped into people photography from there (which I hated at first). Once I realised a) wedding photography could be pretty damn awesome and b) that full-time wedding photographer was an option for me, I couldn’t wait to leave my job. More time at home is never a bad thing.

And I would get to spend weekdays working from home with my cats. It just seemed like the obvious choice, really!

I was definitely going to be a well respected professor at a prestigious university. Or at least somewhat respected at a decent university… but during the last year of my PhD I started to realise that even though I enjoyed research and teaching uni students - shooting weddings with Glenn was just way more fun. And I would get to spend weekdays working from home with my cats. It just seemed like the obvious choice, really!

How did you make the transition between your old jobs and Still Love? Did you make a leap of faith or did you phase it in?

Leap of faith! I think we had four weddings booked at the time, pretty much nothing in savings and Lauren was earning SFA while she was studying. But I knew it’s what I wanted to do and that having a ton more time to put into it was the only way it was going to work - so in a very un-Glenn-like move I just dove in.

I was still shooting on the weekends with Glenn while working full time (while he did all the editing) for about a year - and then the bookings started to build up and we realised we could both work together full time, so leaving my career was a much safer decision than Glenn’s!

How do you find running a business as a couple? Do you find anything particularly challenging or rewarding?

Definitely has its ups and downs but way more ups. The challenging part is that sometimes it feels like our whole life revolves around our business - but we’ll see if the UK-move and way less weddings helps with that! Overall I love it though, we challenge each other and are both fully invested in the business and getting better.

Glenn hates it when I say this, but sometimes shooting weddings makes us a bit loved up - when you’re shooting a really emotional day you can’t help but get caught up in it. Which forces you to realise how much you appreciate each other, you know? And as for editing, we have separate offices which I think is necessary… our taste in music doesn’t completely overlap, so when Glenn starts playing some 90s ‘punk’ (is Good Charlotte considered punk?) I like being able to close my door over…. And like Glenn said, I think the biggest challenge is not seeing each other as just business partners, and talking about stuff other than weddings. But I think we’re getting better at that.

All of your couples look like they’re having a fantastic time in every photo (they’re practically always laughing their asses off) - how do you keep them relaxed?

Either sarcasm or I’m making fun of Lauren. Probably the latter. I think our branding has helped a lot (or at least I like to think it has just because it’s something we consistently work hard on) in that we get couples we click with straight away.

It’s so important to us that couples have a fun day.

Yeah I think it’s partly the kind of people we attract that just don’t take life too seriously anyway, and also that they have a similar sense of humour to us - it means on the day we’re just hanging out. It’s so important to us that couples have a fun day, and the photos are secondary to that, which means we’re trying to make them as relaxed as possible and shooting that, rather than focussing so much on the photos themselves… if that makes sense? But also yes, I think it’s mostly Glenn making fun of me. Or sometimes I do it all on my own, like when I accidentally snort when I laugh or choke on a fly or trip over nothing.

Where would you like to see wedding trends go in the next five years?

I guess I just like that people are starting to ignore tradition more and more - there are still some traditions that are harder to shake, and I’m glad people are starting to ignore them. It always surprises me that we can have a couple that describes themselves as non traditional but then still think they have to cut the cake, or that the bridal party needs to be even - I just love it when people do whatever makes them happy. One tradition I think is starting to go, that I am SO happy about, is the bridal party having to be all girls one side and all guys the other…. if a groom’s best friend is a gal, she should most defs be on his side!! Especially with siblings - so many siblings miss out on being in the bridal party, even when they are so close to the couple. My brother was my best man and I can’t even imagine him not being on my side, he’s my best friend, not Glenn’s!

Same as Lauren really - ignoring the tradition-for-traditions sake if you’re not into it (the amount of couples we see that are like “Why are we even cutting a cake?”) and no more stupid Pinterest lists of ‘648 Must Have Photos’ of which 300 are the the same thing. Really just couples injecting a whole lot more of themselves into their wedding, in whatever way they see fit.

What’s the difference between a good photographer and a great photographer?

Gosh you guys ask some good questions. Hmmm. I think it’s the way you interact with your couple (or I guess subject, for non-wedding photographers). Wedding photography in particular is about so much more than composure and light and gear…. I think the best photographers have a way of interacting with people that gets the most out of them. Who can make people feel completely comfortable with having a giant camera in their face. I guess as well that wedding photography is so much about capturing moments, that it’s not just about vigilance, but also about valuing those moments for what they are - treating any hug as important, that kind of thing.

Give me a blurry underexposed shot of a couple who look stupidly in love or laughing their asses off over a perfectly composed, brilliantly lit photo of a couple who are clearly not connecting with their photographer or each other.

Samesies. It’s about the interaction and letting the couple / subjects be themselves and still being able to get gold without resorting to the same old cookie-cutter shots. Give me a blurry underexposed shot of a couple who look stupidly in love or laughing their asses off over a perfectly composed, brilliantly lit photo of a couple who are clearly not connecting with their photographer or each other. And yeah - being vigilant for those little moments that barely anyone notices but can have so much more impact when captured on camera.

Moving an established business to a new country with a new name is a big step - how did you come to that decision?

I was never going to leave Perth. Still Love was doing alright (relatively) and Perth is just pretty easy - then we went to the UK in January 2015 and one day we went for a walk around Richmond Park (frozen ponds and surrounded by deer) and by that afternoon I had about 60 tabs open on my laptop planning our business move.

The move is really about making a lifestyle change for us. It will inevitably change our work life as well, but we wanted to live the life that would make us most happy, even if it meant being poor for a couple of years (!). As for the name change, we’d kind of tired of the name Still Love a while ago…. and seeing we were moving to relative obscurity in the UK anyway, we thought it would be a good time to change to a name that suited us better.

Are you expecting any big changes once you make the move?

Well hopefully the lifestyle change will be good - we don’t handle the sun well so we pretty much don’t leave the house in summer… but we are hoping that we’ll do a lot more exploring around the UK (and Europe!) The kind of weddings we shoot will change as well - for instance we’re going to have to get used to indoor ceremonies (you can only legally get married under a roof in the UK!!) and shooting in and around the rain. So pretty much all changes for the better, we hope!

Yup, lifestyle change mostly. It’s too easy to stay comfortable if you stay in the same place for too long. Shooting fewer weddings (we still want 30+ but that’s a lot more free time than 50+) means more time for personal photography and exploring - not to mention the weather. I hate summer so hard.

Any dream projects / careers you might one day pursue outside of wedding photography?

I think wedding photography is a bit of a dream job to be honest - especially if you get the chance to travel a bit while you do it. Other than that - I think that I would love to shoot for a magazine like Cereal, travel places and take pretty photos of lovely things. I think I would also really love to try out floristry one day. Also Glenn and I have talked about opening a fancy cat hotel where people can bring their cats instead of a cattery and we could just play with cats all day, that would be pretty great.

I’ve been meaning to work on a personal project forever but just haven’t found / made the time. Whatever I do (be it project or additional career) it’ll be about helping animals, either domestic or wild. Nothing makes me happier or sadder than animal welfare so something to do with helping animals get rescued / adopted / looked after would be my dream.

Snapshot

Who are your creative heroes?

For weddings - Dan O’Day is my favourite, hands down. I’ve pored over his blogs dozens of times each and whenever I’m feeling a little non-creative I love to go back over his stuff - it’s all amazing.

The Kitcheners too, for anyone that says Iceland or similar engagements are getting boring and emotionless - they should check out these guys.

Non-wedding stuff - Elliott Erwitt hands down - I love how he shoots street stuff and his sense of humour comes out so well in everything he does. I also love Alejandro Gómez (In The Ointment) who did our branding, I’ve followed his work for ages and I just freaking love how awesome his illustrations are - I always try to learn to draw but I try to start out with what he draws and it’s just… horrible.

Jessica Tremp, Dan O’Day, The Kitcheners

As for non-wedding… I think maybe I don’t see these people as ‘heroes’ as much, but they’re just people whose work I find really inspiring : Fox and Rabbit, Bianca Cash, Lauren Fenlon.

What do you love the most about where you live?

The wild animals that frequent our garden (parrots, galahs and bandicoots mostly).

Yup, same. And that our cats have heaps of room to run around inside. But I’m looking forward to UK wildlife in our backyard even more.

What are you reading at the moment?

I’m always flicking through a few pages of my favourite hardcover photography books (Magnum Stories, Magnum Contact Sheets, anything by Elliott Erwitt) and just started reading the Raven Shadow series.

The Dresden Files (about a wizard detective, obvs).

What are you watching at the moment?

I just started rewatching The OC last night and it was better than I remember. And Glenn and I have been watching a lot of Escape to the Country…

Whatever trash Lauren puts on while I spend the whole night on my laptop. That usually means half-watching Escape to the Country while Lauren gasps every five seconds at the houses or the landscape.

What are you listening to the moment?

Usually either trashy 90’s pop-punk for funsies or Regina Spektor who I freaking love.

Alabama Shakes

Top 3 visited websites (not including social media)?

Reddit, Flickr (is that social media?) and I use Trello for organising pretty much my whole life.

Rightmove, Duolingo, IMDB (it’s an additcion).

Favourite memory from a wedding?

That’s freaking tough. Umm, probably any time people have gotten really emotional at that "Holy sh*t we just got married!" moment. We had a couple who ran off down the aisle so they could spend two minutes alone after their ceremony and that was pretty damn amazing - I wish Lauren and I had thought of that.

When it poured down with rain mid ceremony and no one seemed to be expecting it. So much shouting and laughing.