Interview with: Alix Marina-Chouhan
Company Name: Lumiere Photography
Location / Coverage: UK, Europe, further..
How did the business get started and who works at Lumiere Photography?
I had my first book published in 1996 but never thought of being a photographer. One friend asked me to take photos at his wedding and he liked mine more than the professional ones, so that made me think I could do it.
I am the only person at Lumiere and I have thought about having other photographers with me in the future, but not now. I do refer work to other photographers if I am booked though. There are many photographers whose work I love.
Had you always wanted to be a photographer?
I always wanted to take photographs. As a kid I remember framing with my fingers to focus on the detail I imagined people didn’t see, to bring it to attention, to find beauty in the ordinary.
My first boyfriend wanted to be a photographer, and was very good too, but was told it wasn’t a serious job, so I never considered it. I learned a lot from him though and bought my first proper camera when we split up.
Can you remember how old you were when you took your first picture? What was it of?
I was given a really bad point and shoot at 7 and I took a few photos before I was so annoyed with it taking wide angle photos I couldn’t crop or manipulate that I don’t think I even developed the last roll.
Why is the business called Lumiere Photography?
Lumiere means light. Photography means writing with light. Also, I am French so it reflects me, but it’s more than that. It’s not just sunshine and candles, it’s the sparkle, glow, the light-heartedness, the emotions in people’s faces. There is also the Lumiere connection, as in the brothers who invented cinematography.
Which areas of the UK do you cover?
I love going to places I have never been. I am based in Leicestershire but, even if I really love some venues, ideally I’d never shoot twice in the same place because I like it to be new for each couple, so I’d go anywhere, including abroad.
What do you feel sets you apart from other wedding photographers?
Both my personality and my style. I have a different approach, maybe because I am French-Italian. I am warm, curious, enthusiastic and love people, and I love different cultures and languages. I stay in touch with my couples because I genuinely care. I could never do something well if I was bored or blasé.
How would you describe your photography style?
I am very good at noticing people, details, the beauty in each person and each moment, so a lot of my style is natural; most of it really. I also incorporate classical elements; some images just cry to be taken, brought to life. I love improvising though, as I don’t want to get through sets of poses, I want the ideas to fit the couple.
What packages do you offer and what are your rates?
I devised packages to offer good value, starting at £799 and including photos on a disk because I’d want that myself. I sourced the best albums and products because I can’t sell what I don’t love. I aim for albums and products which are different, stunning, yet won’t date, as that’s the last thing you want – a really expensive frame that just screams last decade!
However, I am flexible. I am happy for people to devise their own menu or even make me an offer; I find that people are fair, and what’s most important for me is working with people I get on with and who love what I do.
What is the best thing about the job?
I can’t think of a more optimistic job; it’s all about celebrating life, love, and emotions. I get nervous, well up, I sing in the car – I am so happy at weddings! It is more than a job, it’s who I am, it’s a way of celebrating each day, affirming that each person is beautiful and loveable.I also love knowing that amazing moments will occur each day. Seeing kids grow and capturing their stories is fantastic too.
Do you have a specialist area of photography?
I love people so I love weddings and portraits. I even photographed a birth, and that was the most amazing thing ever – much easier than doing it myself yet just as emotional; it was a real privilege.
I seek beauty everywhere, so I also enjoy travel photography, reportage, street photography and aspects of commercial work. I have worked with wedding vendors and have enjoyed cake portraits and flowers, and bridal shops with flower girls. I have done some fashion work too. I enjoy stretching myself, learning and exploring.
Who/what are your influences?
I love paintings – Italian renaissance: Botticelli, but also Caravaggio. I love the chiaroscuro, the way the light plays with the shadows. I love still life paintings too, the transparency of grapes for example.
I also like film noir style – have you seen ‘The Artist’? It was pure joy for me! Some Hitchcock films with the shadows again, M and Metropolis from Fritz Lang. I also really love some Chinese films, as I find them very poetic visually – ‘Red Sorghum’ for example.
In photography I like Man Ray for his eccentricity, Robert Doisneau for his apparent way of capturing the moment- even if they were often posed. In terms of more recent photographers, I love Joe Buissink. I met him and he said he “shoots from the heart”; that confirmed to me that I was in the right job. I like Yervant too.
So, just as I am – a mix of natural, reportage and classical.
Do you have a favourite picture that you have taken (If you can choose!)?
Oh that’s so hard!! Alex’s birth, and a very Vogue one, but also one I took in 1987 looking through the huge clock in Musée d’Orsay when I lived in Paris.
What is your top tip for choosing a wedding photographer?
You have to love what you see, it needs to speak to your heart, and you need to get on with that person, so when you look up at the altar and no one can see you as all your friends are behind you, you have a friend there.
I think being a woman is an advantage in the wedding business because I can help with bras and garters, necklaces and lipstick. I even lent my necklace to one of my brides.
What are your other interests?
Oh I love a lot of things, from stones, plants and animals, to languages – I have studied many – cultures and countries – I love traveling – oh and food too. I love different kinds of music, salsa particularly, and I dance.
I don’t really watch many TV programmes but I do watch films and some series. I loved Friends, and Glee for the music, like I loved Fame the series. Now my son has got me into The Big Bang Theory.