About 7 years ago I moved to Preston, Lancashire and in doing so I needed to build a new social circle that was local to the city. Photography was my key to that circle and with a photo walk or two under my belt, it began to grow. It was during one of those walks that I met Nancy Lisa Barrett (now Phillips.) Since then I have got to know her and know her work. I've even had the pleasure of working alongside her from time to time.
As Nancy continues to grow her business and brand you'll find her images of people, weddings and places appearing in many magazines. As you'll quickly come to discover, Nancy's precious way of looking at life is, in my view, rather unique.
AM : Evening Nancy, and thanks for joining me for a chat about your photography. I think it is fair to say that it has changed over the years that I've known you. If I recall correctly, we first met on a Lancashire Flickr group photo walk where we did some Urbex at an old abandoned power station, back in 2012. From there we crossed paths a few times before you introduced me, or should I say convinced me, to visit Preston Photographic Society.
Since then your life has changed dramatically and during this time you've explored many a genre of photography: portrait; studio work; wildlife; landscapes, and product photography to name but a few. However, it is your wedding photography that I think you're most well known for. Your images, which have appeared in many a magazine, bring a timeless and endearing quality the them. Your clients must get very emotional when they view your work.
Looking back to those early days to where you are now, can you tells us about how your photography has changed and what brought you into the world of wedding photography, which I'm sure the very idea off fills most photographers with fear?
NB : Hi Alf, and thank you for selecting me for your 7 questions….you swine…haha
I’m not going to bore everybody stupid. I started photography because it was my ‘escape’ for a long time. A lot of peeps who know me will understand that expression which will sum up many years of, let's just say, 'taxing times’. And there it is, no more, no less. I haven’t loved photography from a young age. I was too busy grooving to jazz, jazz funk, disco and house music…that was my ‘photography’! I loved art, design, textures, theatre, cinematography…and in loving these things, it has impacted my photography in later years.
I remember joining the Flickr group and meeting yourself, Paul, Gilly and Foxy and going on outings. I loved ‘street photography’ before it became cool to love it, haha. It was the cheapest photography, along with close-up photography because I had the cheapest kit. It is what it is. Make the best and try and be the best…but be humble. I came to adore photography, not just love it. It was a part of my soul, a part of me and it took over my life, in a good way.
To this day, some of the best photography I did will be the photography I did to document the ‘dementia plateaus’…it was the most stressful time of my life and also the most creative. It was like being in the twilight zone of Louis Wain and Annie Leibovitz. I’ve always had a vivid imagination (years of reading books and not watching telly). I think it moulded me, but at the time I couldn’t see that. The photos I did back then are about to be used in a project soon, so watch this space…
Photographing Mum's Dementia
In the next few years, I joined college and did photography (did it help me…no…it was a bums on seats exercise, sorry). I joined the PPS (did it help me…yes and no, I enjoyed my time there and the good peeps there gave me good advice on the photo walks which I’ve carried on to this day). I learnt nearly everything from YouTube and smashing photographers/friends sites. I started to go my own way and always wanted to be different (not always correct though, haha). I see things very differently than a lot of people and I remember watching a movie about Temple Grandin and how she saw in pictures what people spoke about and this is exactly how I saw the world. I didn’t feel different anymore, there were more people like me, woo-woo!!
Wildlife photography was my hobby. I was rubbish, I still am, haha…but I adore it. I enjoy the ‘not knowing what’s going to happen next’ feeling to it. I love how you’ve got to be quick…and I mean super quick to catch the birdies/wildlife. I learnt to be quiet and get closer..... because I had crap equipment, it was the pits, ha ha.
I remember one day Brian Sandham asking if I could second-shoot for him for a wedding. I said yes, must have been mad, ha ha! Anyhow, to cut a long story short, I loved it. It would seem, keeping quiet and getting closer helped in wedding photography too. Catching small children doing funny things was the same as split-second small bird flying timing. These two opposite ends of the scale photography things were the same, and I loved it. I loved the scary buzz it gave me and still do to this day. You only get one chance to get it right…so no pressure then. Brian taught me a lot. Down to earth, funny and a wealth of info and not too up his own to freely give away info.
I’m not going to dwell on the next bit but I got pretty ill for a few years and as I was recovering, I took steps to start my own wedding photography business. It was a long hard process (the illness and the startup) but you've got to keep on keeping on if you want to be successful. I met my husband Andy (another photographer who is awesome in every way) and we furthered the business plan. A humbling moment for me was when I thought I had completed my website and I thought it was super duper fantastic. He got 12 strangers (not friends, colleagues or work-mates, but complete strangers) to review my website…they absolutely slated it!!! I was gutted, angry…but the most important thing…..I learnt from this. I’ve taken that feeling I felt into my photography life, as of now. It will never leave me and it will always keep me on my toes, forever.