All images by Gillespie Photo. Read more at the Phoblographer.
Gillespie photography is a husband and wife photography duo between Trent and Stacy, who are based in Colorado and have a very special approach to wedding photography. This approach was honed over a very long time and their photos have a fine art feel to them. What’s more: the couple tries to make every single wedding that they shoot unique–so planning goes into it with the couple.
But beyond this, they learned the hard way about the work-life balance importance between photographers.
Phoblographer: Talk to us about how you two got into photography.
Trent: It started as a job in a photo lab developing negatives. After a few months of chopping slides, I started selling and troubleshooting cameras, which was right around the same time the Rebel XT was launched. I finally sprung on a Rebel XTi with a EF-S 17-85mm lens. I knew nothing about photography, and it took the next few years to figure out that gear doesn’t make a photo. Moments and light do. I’ve spent the last 6 years trying to capitalize on those two things.
Stacy: It only took a few dates with Trent before he introduced me to the camera, and it didn’t take long to fall in love with both. Trent has been a great teacher through the years, but has given me the freedom to seek out my own individuality as an artist. I now find myself looking at light and angles almost everywhere I go. Our friends joke that the only thing worse than hiking with a photographer is hiking with two photographers. Our loved ones have learned that we cannot turn off our love for taking pictures and often force them to pose while we nail a shot.
Phoblographer: What made you two want to become a wedding photography duo?
Trent: After watching my parents work together for 27 years, I really wanted that same flexibility and relationship with my wife. After discussing it for a year, we decided that having the ability to share such a passion together would be priceless. On occasion, we push each other’s buttons, especially at the end of a wedding when we’re fighting over the whereabouts of our lens caps… but we strongly believe that the end result will be worth it. Hopefully we look back at our careers as photographers and feel like we had a good balance of work and relationships.
“I knew nothing about photography, and it took the next few years to figure out that gear doesn’t make a photo. Moments and light do.”
Phoblographer: How do you two go about finding a life/work balance when you two work together?
Stacy: This is not an easy task. We knew when we started there wouldn’t be much of a balance. We’ve worked to establish goals based upon timelines, instead of just mindlessly working. After shoot 52 weddings in 2014, we decided to scale things back a bit, and are hoping to chop that number in half. Our hope is that this will give us a better balance, but more importantly, it will give us the time to better connect with our clients on each shoot instead of trying to get them out the door.
Phoblographer: Your images have this fine art approach to the wedding. Where did you two get the inspiration to do stuff like that?
Trent: I attribute a lot of the artistic side of my photography to my late Grandma Jean. I grew up watching her brush Colorado onto canvas using her oil paints. This carried over into my photography. It doesn’t hurt that you can throw a wide-angle lens on your camera, point it in just about any direction and get a half decent photo in this beautiful state. Things really started to click when I started integrating people into those landscapes. We’ve grown from just sunsets and snow-capped mountains into being creative regardless of where we are though.
Phoblographer: Talk to us about the gear that you use.
Stacy: We’re Canon shooters. We split four 5D Mark IIIs on a wedding day. Trent loves the 35mm f1.4, 85mm f1.2 combo, while I love my 50mm f1.2, 24-70mm f2.8 MKII, and 135mm f/2. Our lighting kit depends on the day, but usually consists of a bag full of 600EXs and a Lowel GL1. We’re not huge on modifiers or accessories. The less clutter we have, the more efficient we are.
Phoblographer: How do you go about explaining your creative vision to the couples?
Stacy: Each couple and wedding is a one of kind. Truly. Therefore our creative approach changes almost every wedding. At times we wish we were more straight laced, as it would make the entire process from start to finish easier, but that’s not who we are. We’re not going to force feed our couples a certain style, but work our hearts out to try and reflect their dynamics. The creativity comes in our ability to turn the ordinary into extraordinary and not grabbing the telephoto when things get tough. The more we shoot, the wider we get.
Phoblographer: How much of your job is spent shooting, editing, booking clients, marketing, etc?
Trent: This is such a depressing figure to look at. The last time we did a time analysis, I believe 8% of our time was spent shooting. We use to spend a very high percentage of our time editing, but have remedied that in the past year. More than anything, solid composition and being able to distinguish good qualities of light has reduced our time spent editing. If I had to take a guess, we spend 15% shooting, 35% editing, 15% booking/managing clients, 25% marketing, and 10% learning/practicing. We’re looking to increase our shooting and learning time even more. Some products that have helped get our life back are Tave, Fundy’s Album Designer, BlogStomp, a part-time in-house editor.
How are you guys looking to make a bigger splash this year?
Stacy: We’ve brushed marketing, shooting tricks, new tech all to the side. Our focus this year is purpose. It is one thing to make a beautiful portrait, but it is another to capture an image that truly reflects the bride and groom as a couple. We want people to see our images and say ‘that is so them’. In order to do that, we need to approach each wedding as a new piece of art and get to know our subjects on a deeper level.