Neale James

Wedding Photographer
Newbury, UK

Twice internationally recognised in Junebug’s exclusive list of Best Wedding Photographs of the World and latterly voted 2014’s Wedding Photographer of the Year for London and the South East at the Wedding Industry Awards, Neale James lives near Newbury in Berkshire though accepts commissions the length and breadth of the UK and destination weddings abroad.

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How long have you been a photographer?
Professionally it's a decade, but the business was growing wings from the turn of the century.
Who or what got you started in photography?
I took a very slow organic route to be honest. Like many photographers, I was gifted a camera in my teens. The camera was moth balled for quite a while, something like fifteen years or more before I picked it up again and started experimenting with a view to a professional career.
What have been the highlights of your career to date?
Without doubt travelling to cover weddings further afield in this country and abroad, the adventure of doing so doesn't diminish no matter how far I travel and how many times.
Who are some clients you work for now?
I have a really varied client base. I can be working in Ireland one week on an all day and night wedding with two hundred guests, a Turkish wedding in London the following with a thousand guests followed by a very exclusive and private wedding in the countryside for just a handful of family members. That's the beauty of this genre. It defies the cliche I think some people have in mind when they think about wedding photography.
How would you describe your style?
I'm certainly very relaxed in my style and demeanour at a wedding. The buzz word these days is unobtrusive, but that's how I strive to work.
What do you love most about being a photographer?
I'd say it's the challenge of presenting something real and authentic that I enjoy most. You start from scratch every commission you attend.
Was there a turning point in your career, when things started to take shape?
Piecing together photographic slideshows and sound recorded from the events themselves to present as Photofilms was certainly a light bulb moment for me and the business.
Have you had a mentor or an advisor in your career? What did they teach you?
Many. Many. I've attended workshops that I see now as extremely important with regard business decisions I have made. I have a very close friend in the town I live who for many years was a news photographer in the military. He has been very instrumental by way of belief in what I do. You need that I think to fuel you in those early days.
What would you recommend to someone just starting their career?
Take leaps of faith. Never stop leaping. In my late teens and early twenties I had that beautifully naive sense of self belief that enables you to make mistakes but emerge unscathed and wanting more. If you can practise that at whatever age, it's a super way to start something new.
What have you struggled with in the past and how did you overcome it?
I suppose a refer back to the last question. When you've had a little more experience of life, you lose that wonderful sense of naivety you had when you were young. I've needed to learn to embrace that feeling again, as much of what I have achieved so far has been in my forties.
Finally, what has been the best piece of advice you have ever received in regards to photography or business?
Don't be a clone. Though reinventing the wheel is hard if not impossible, particularly in this exceptionally picture literate world we frequent, keep searching for something, anything that demonstrates individuality.