Crash Taylor interviews Brooke Mayo. I came across Brooke's work on the WPJA website and thought this is cool. Brooke is the definition of a talented visual image-maker! You feel happy when you look at her images, especially her dog portraits! She is the author of two books, which I highly recommend if you are into baby or pet photography. In 2009, Brooke and her partner Candace were recognized as the number 7 wedding photojournalist in the world by The Artistic Guild of Wedding Photojournalist and chosen as an A-List photographer for Destination Weddings and Honeymoons in 2011. It's a brilliant interview, read it and leave Brooke a comment, I'm sure she would appreciate it.
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I studied photography in college and moved to Australia and NYC to photograph nudes , dancers and to intern with Joyce Tenneson. Afterwards I moved back to my home in the Outer Banks of NC and began photographing weddings and beach portraits. Live on my families farm/vineyard with our 3 year old daughter, 2 dogs, and chickens. In 2009 I published "Diving Doggies: A Celebration of Play Underwater" and in 2011, "Shake, Rattle and Shoot: The Business of Baby Photography."
Where is home?
Outer Banks, NC
If you could live anywhere on this awesome planet where would you build your dream home?
On a boat, in the Currituck Sound. It doesn’t have to move - only rock.
What is your current state of mind before we continue with the interview?
Deliriously excited – we have some really fun shoots coming up!
Did you go to school to study photography?
Yes, Appalachian State University and The University of Western Sydney, Penrith.
How long have you been a photographer?
How would you describe your style?
Fun and happy, well documented, reliable, innovative and minty fresh!
How many weddings do you average per year?
What type of cameras do you shoot with?
Nikon D3s and D3
What is your favourite photography accessory, other than your camera?
My hip sack. It lets me carry everything I need on me so I don’t have to worry about needing something that is in a backpack on the other side of the room.
If you had to choose one lens which one would it be and why?
70-200, even though it’s a beast to carry for 8-10 hours at a time, it lets me capture emotion without being really close to my subjects.
What lighting equipment do you take on a shoot?
4 SB 910s, LED light panels and a spotlight.
Can you describe how and when you use flash, video light, reflectors and natural light during a wedding?
We use video light mostly when photographing the details and the bride and groom getting ready, sometimes we use it during first dances and toasts. We use flash once it gets too dark outside to use natural light (most of our receptions are outside) and we use natural light during the ceremony and portraits and anytime we’re able.
What is your favourite computer/editing accessory, other than your computer?
How important is Photoshop in your final images?
What is your most used Photoshop tool, plug-in, action set etc.?
We have made our own actions that we run on all our images that make it much quicker to edit and keep a consistent look. Besides this, Kevin Kubota’s actions are fabulous!
Are you a MAC or PC lover?
Do you plan on buying any new equipment and if so what do you have your eyes on?
A mini van to haul all of our mess around in!
Can you share with us some awesome BROOKE MAYO images?
I finally feel I have mastered my Crash-Art workflow, can you briefly describe for the readers your photographic workflow after a wedding?
We back up to a second card in camera using the dual slot, download to our laptop and back up all images to a hard drive before we leave the wedding. Once back to the studio we back up to 2 additional hard drives, star our keepers and then do our proof edit. We fully edit between 20-100 to put in our “artists faves” folder.
I use Queensberry albums, what wedding albums do you supply your clients with and do you design them yourself or outsource the design?
We like the new albums Millers is offering, they are competitively priced and are gorgeous, great for portrait sessions! Favorite wedding album – Willowbook.
How do you feel about cropping an image?
We crop if we have to but do most of our cropping in camera.
What gives you ideas and inspires you to create such amazing imagery?
Music videos and dreams.
We love looking at all kinds of magazines and movies are a huge source of inspiration as well.
How do you educate yourself to take better photos?
After each shoot me and my associate, Candace Owens, come back and look at our images and talk about what we could have done better and what worked. It’s exciting and inspirational not to mention fun!
Do you have an assistant/2nd shooter that accompanies you on wedding assignments?
Yes, I have an associate photographer and a second shooter who will accompany me if my associate can’t be there or will shoot with my associate when she books her own weddings.
How many images do you average per wedding and how many do you usually present to your clients?
We average 3-5k and show them between 500 and 1500 depending on the size of the wedding. They all go online within 2 weeks of their wedding.
Where would be your dream destination wedding?
Australia or Greece
How do you make the bride and groom, bridal party etc… feel relaxed in front of your camera?
We try to smile all day and not to show any stress even if we feel it, if something is wrong, we don’t make a big deal out of it. If we’re having fun they are having fun!
What is your favourite recent image you have shot recently? Can you describe its creation in regards to location, lighting, composition, camera settings etc… also your thoughts when creating the image and what it means to you?
We recently photographed a couple who was an opera singer and a pianist/composer. They were goofy and LOVED playgrounds! Here is a link to the brainstorming video session we created.
What do you feel is the most challenging thing about photographing weddings?
As much as you prepare for the wedding, you never know what it will be like until you arrive. You can have all your equipment, checked, packed and batteries charged but once you get there everything is a surprise.
What do you think of the wedding photography industry at the moment and where do you see it in 5 years from now?
The world is saturated with eye candy. To get others to look at yours it’s going to have to be more creative and more beautiful than ever. Family portraits are always going to be a must, they are the historical images we see and the ones showcased in homes years later. While not as fun to shoot, master them so you can make them gorgeous quickly.
A wedding photographer who inspires you?
I love looking at all the amazing photographers on AGWPJA, WPJA and Fearless Photographers websites. Viewing the winning contest images are inspiring and fun!
It’s almost that time of year for a MAYO family portrait. Is there any photographer out there that you would be stoked to say – he/she took my portrait?
Howard Schatz, underwater.
A website and/or blog you visit often?
The first photographer that comes to your mind and why?
Lois Greenfield, the movement she captures in air is unbelievable!
The last workshop or seminar you attended and why?
WPPI, there are so many classes offered and being around so many other photographers is incredibly educational.
What is Brooke Mayo’s marketing advice?
Always make sure everyone is beyond thrilled with everything from customer service to their images- word of mouth is the best marketing you can have!
How important is an awesome website for your business?
98% of our clients come from out of town and we don’t get to meet most of them until the day of their wedding, they have to really be able to relate to us and get to know us online.
If not a photographer, I would have liked to be a marine biologist studying the great white shark. What would you have been?
I would have had a huge farm where I rescue animals and let them run and play and swim.
I realize that each great photographer has a particular penchant or love for photographing a particular subject whether it be nature, portraits, sea or landscapes, shadow and light, etc. as a result I would love to have you talk about and share whatever images you feel appropriate of your own private obsession in the magical world of photography.
Photographing dogs underwater.
Is there anybody or anything you would love to photograph?
I would love to photograph sharks and learn to dive but I’m terrified. I’ll stick to snorkeling.
What advice do you have for somebody who wants to pursue wedding photography?
You can’t do it half, it’s a lot of fun but it’s a whole lot of work. Put your all into it.
We know that each of us has someone or something, which inspires our life and work. Can you tell us the true basis of your inspiration?
Animals are a huge part of my life, all kinds of animals and they all have different personalities are are so happy to see you. They get pleasure from the simplest of things and that makes my heart smile. Sitting and watching the dogs run and jump in the water and chase a stick or watching the chickens peck through the vineyards and shrubs and come running to you when they notice you are there, these moments inspire me to capture the little things in life that make each day unique.
Is there anything you would have done differently during your photographic career?
Address all problems immediately.
If you could be invisible for one day with your camera…
I’d photograph all the bad guys in bad places that I would never visit as a wife and mother.
I’ve learned the most from… my daughter, Poppy. Patience and unconditional love are at the top of the list but everyday she’s teaching me something new or to appreciate something in a different way.
What talent would you most like to have?
Dancing, I LOVE photographing dancers but can’t carry a tune and I have no rhythm. I live vicariously through them by being able to capture their beauty and grace.
Something you’re still learning?
To make good decisions and not be hasty.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My shuggie, John.
What is your greatest fear?
Something that is overrated?
Something you’re saving up for?
What item do you wish you had designed?
If you could have lunch with anyone who is famous or dead who would it be?
Where you’ll find me on a Friday night at 9 p.m.?
Coming in from boat riding, jumping on the trampoline and drinking wino.
Your favourite film (movie) of all time?
Who would play you in a film (movie) of your life?
The fairy in Scrooge who goes around talking really nice but whacking people in the head.
First thing you would do if you won the lottery?
Take my family and friends on a trip around the world for a year.
Which five words would your friends use to describe you?
Fun, “brute strength,” determined, focused, a dodo bird
What would you like to be doing in 5 years from now?
Still a photographer, but also raising farm animals – all while living on a boat.
And the last question, if you had one wish…
That my daughter grows up to make good decisions and be the best person she can be.
Oh one more, if someone said ‘how can I be the next BROOKE MAYO?’ What would you say?
Put your heart and soul into whatever you want to do and make your own style, keep learning from your mistakes and surround yourself with people who make you better than who you are alone.
Your readers can find out more about me: