Its been 14 years since Paul Donegan, from In Sight Photography, decided he wanted to spend his career behind the lens capturing those special moments. With incredible attention to the detail of the natural surroundings that makes each image mesmerizing, Paul is one of Margaret Rivers finest photographers and he truly loves and is passionate about what he does. We caught up with Paul to find out a little more about what it is like to be behind the lens at a wedding and what he does on his “off” days.
What inspired you to become a photographer?
I grew up in a country environment, so nature inspired me from a very young age. With that came an obsessive fascination with my Dad’s National Geographic collection, and once he passed onto me his vintage Canon AE-1 kit I started spending a lot of my pocket money on film. My Dad was also an enthusiastic photographer, always behind the camera on family trips and camping holidays. As soon as he realized I was hooked on photography we would start going on trips, just the two of us, exploring the natural world and figuring out together what made a great shot. Fast forward to 2003, I found myself in Ken Duncan’s NSW Central Coast Gallery. Staring at his work in absolute awe, it was there I finally decided I wanted to make photography my career. I’ll never forget the moment I turned to to my girlfriend and said “I’ve finally figured it out. I’m going to be a photographer.”
So, my father, Ken Duncan, National Geographic and the natural world all had a huge influence on guiding my life towards a career in photography.
Describe your Wedding Photography style in three words.
I’d say; Adventurous, Colourful and Natural
What is a typical day like for you?
Well, to be honest I don’t have typical days. I could be shooting a wedding or meeting with clients to plan their wedding, on assignment for The Sunday Times or doing family portraits on a South West beach, printing photo orders and designing frames or putting together albums, spending a whole 12-14 hours editing, or just dedicating a day to emails, paperwork, contracts and marketing.
It’s a real mixed working week for me, but that’s one of the things I love about my job. I get a lot of variety.
What do you find most challenging about being a wedding photographer and why?
All of it. It’s challenging from start to finish. But I enjoy that. The moment I get a phone call from an ecstatic couple who have just received “sneak peak” images the day after their wedding is when I get the biggest buzz from my job. All of the hard work that goes into it all comes down to the joy it gives them. And that gives me joy. (I know that sounds cheezy but it’s true).
How do you like to spend time when you aren’t taking photos?
I try to wind down and relax as much as possible. I make LEGO castles with my 3 ½ year old son, I go for a surf, go fishing or diving, make a delicious dinner for friends (My wife and I are crazy about cooking), go on a coastal hike, or just go and find a quiet beach and hang out with my family.
What is the most unusual photo shoot or location you have ever worked on and why?
Throughout the year and in between weddings I get the odd assignment from The Sunday Times covering South West stories. I usually cover about 10 -12 stories a year. The craziest thing I’ve ever done in my career was cover the Margaret River bushfires in 2011. I was crouched in the middle of a road with my camera, both sides covered in bush and completely engulfed in flames. A firefighter stood next to her truck in the middle of the road while a Navy helicopter dumped water on the blaze in the distance. I took a photo, then two seconds later, a stones throw away from where I was shooting, the upper canopy of a group of trees exploded like a bomb and a hurricane of fire spiraled into the sky about 50 metres. The firefighter spun around and ran while screaming at me “ GO GO GO!” One of the scariest moments of my life and the closest I’ve ever been to pissing my pants as a grown man.
Which part of the wedding is your favourite part to photograph and why?
Honestly, all of it.
I love brides and grooms opening letters to each other before they get ready, the walk down the isle, the nerves on the grooms face, Mum in the front row biting her lip because she can hardly believe what’s happening, confetti in the face, shooting amazing locations like Boranup Forest or Little Beach in Albany, the garlic sauce drizzling down the side of a perfectly cooked fillet of Dhufish, the best man getting all hands and expression during his “how lucky is this guy!” speech, and the hands over the face of the bride when he starts talking about Uni day stories and how his best mate met her…
I love it all. I love my job.
Image credits: In Sight Photography