Inspiration, Spotlight, Wedding

Just Big Smiles – stories from TWIA

With so many moving pieces involved in a planning a big day, The Wedding Industry Awards support every business that helps make it happen. From Photographers to Celebrants, Cake Designers to Stationers, TWIA celebrates the cream of the crop when it comes to wedding talent. (You can find out more about TWIA here, or read our interview with founder Damian Bailey to get a feel for the awards.)

As sponsors of four awards at The Wedding Industry Awards earlier this year, we chatted to one of the Regional winners from our sponsored category (East of England) Best Wedding Photographers (newcomer) – Just Big Smiles.


Meet Just Big Smiles


Want a slice of the action? if you work in the wedding industry, you can enter TWIA20 here.

Image courtesy of Just Big Smiles


Can you tell us a bit about Just Big Smiles? How did you get started? How long have you been going for?

I studied photography at college and absolutely loved it, and always had a camera in my hand, it was a Practika MTL5B 35mm film camera, and nothing beat the excitement of developing the pictures to see what you got.

I then dropped photography and concentrated on another line of work, then a trip to South Africa started the quest for a new camera to capture the magnificent animals.  On return from South Africa my cousin asked if I would do his wedding as I had a nice camera.  Under duress I captured his day and loved every minute of it, and then to see my pictures all around his house filled me with pride.  As I was ready for a career change I threw myself into lots of wedding photography training and really enjoyed it.  I then took on another friends wedding, again really enjoyed it and well the rest is history.


Check out Just Big Smiles on Facebook


Image courtesy of Just Big Smiles


What does a typical day look like for you?

Up around 7, wander round the house scratching my butt and drinking coffee and thinking about the day ahead and then make my sandwiches.

After a  very big breakfast, I pump in all the calories I can manage as I know it is going to be a long day I load the truck up with all the photography gear, check everything off my list, and double check for good measure.  Have a shower, put on my suit, check google maps for any delays, check the aa website for any delays and then off I go.

I generally get to the brides house for 10:00 am.  The wedding day just flows with lots of twists and turns and generally around midnight I am back in the truck heading home, ears a ringing from all the loud music.  Once I get home, I back up all the pictures and place in a fire proof safe, back all the pictures up again and put in the garage that is standalone from the house and set up two computers to upload all the pictures to the cloud.  I wait until everything is uploaded and then go to bed, kiss the wife, wake her up, receive some loving verbal abuse and go to sleep generally around 3am.


What’s the best bit about your job?

The people, and all their expressions, and their love for the couple and each other.  I am an emotional old fool and as I go through the pictures memories of the day come flooding back and I often shed a little tear of happiness .


Image courtesy of Just Big Smiles


What’s the most difficult bit about going it alone and starting a business?

Money and bills, changing from a very well paid job with regular income, to a business that has fits and starts, there is a big change in mindset,  and in the winter you have to keep yourself chipper as business is quiet, the weather is dark and cold and regular as clockwork the bills keep dropping on the mat.


How do you think being involved in TWIA has made a difference to your business?

Still to be determined, with respect to sales,  I have 3 wedding shows coming up and I am sure this is where winning the award will make a difference.  Being part of the TWIA has certainly got me introduced with lots of local business and that have been exceptionally valuable and had really helped get my name about and learn more about the industry.


Image courtesy of Just Big Smiles


What’s next for Just Big Smiles? Anything exciting lined up for 2019?

Lots and lots lined up, website update is complete, wedding shows booked, Facebook page ticking along and I plan to get my qualification in wedding photography by the end of the year and of course build a pipeline for 2020.  Its feb, I have 11 weddings booked and confirmed so still lots more business to get 🙂


Any tips for budding photographers who might want to venture into your industry?

Ignore what the competition are doing, it will just confuse you and confuse who you are, and what value you add.  Absolutely get some training, shadow a reputable photographer, find your style and ethos, believe in yourself and have confidence.  Finally year 1 will be very tough, year 2 will be all about paying the bills (debt) from year 1 and hopefully year 3 to 5 you will start to swim with the big fish and find your own swim lane.

If you’re looking for a wedding photographer, check out Just Big Smiles on Facebook here!

Image courtesy of Just Big Smiles


Want to get involved with TWIA yourself? Find everything you need to know below.

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About the author

Caitlin is our Social Media guru and lover of all things food and travel. When she's not scrolling through TikTok you'll find her meticulously planning her next adventure abroad.

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