Simeon Quarrie is creative both in art and business. Starting out as a graphic designer, he moved from web design, to other media including video and photography. In the early days, he served the graphic needs of businesses. Then when he was still just 20 years old, a client asked him to shoot a wedding; he did the job, and he loved it.
But unlike other aspiring photographers, he did not simply dive into the genre labeled ‘wedding;’ rather, he reflected on the business, its various segments and their levels of competition and standards, and then assessed his own unique selling points -- what he could do best -- and plotted his course.
He decided that the Indian (Asian) wedding genre specifically required a set of skills and talents that matched his abilities and passion. Given the intensity of the event, how many key moments must be captured and how large (as many as 300 to 800 persons), and the fact that it would be necessary to meld still photography and cinematographic quality video, Simeon made his choice. Today, with his combined offices and staff, Simeon may be directing a team of five or six at a wedding, and his services are highly desirable.
“In the beginning, it was difficult. The Asian wedding market was still very old fashioned. But as we have released to market a new way of looking at things, we’ve also helped develop a new standard, and as a result a new expectation for what is possible. Now the Asian wedding sector is more advanced in general than much of what we’d call the Westernized weddings.
“In addition previously, people who were spending 50 or 60 thousand pounds on a wedding were spending only 1200 on the photographer. Now it’s shifted to a more proportional amount of budget dedicated to photography and all the work involved for these affairs.
Setting the standard
“Today, people know our brand and it communicates our creativity and how we push ourselves on behalf of a client. From the beginning one thing has always been paramount: High standards of creativity and storytelling. We are interviewing potential clients, asking them to tell us, ‘Why would you like us to tell your story?’
"Over the past years, I’ve pushed on and struggled step by step to get the work to the highest possible standard, all the while overcoming as many fears as possible. For me, it’s important to push outside my comfort zone and try to get comfortable. There was a time, for example, when the world of Medium Format was actually scary, because I’m of a generation that learned how to take photographs with the ability to check on the back right away. I remember going to exhibitions and seeing the Phase One stand. It was a different world. I didn’t know what the advantages of Medium Format were -- I just wondered why someone would spend all that money. "
Raising the bar
"As a photographer who shoots weddings, I am keen to bridge the gap between the quality you see in weddings and what you see in commercials. Raising standards means using lighting and the correct equipment and tools, as well as the right creative process, to make sure you’re superseding what might be typically associated with “wedding photography.” I am hoping to answer the question, “Can wedding photography achieve this standard?”
"To answer that question, I’ve worked to understand and overcome my fears of medium format; I’ve invested in the Phase One platform because it’s critical not to be limited creatively, and this also helps me to differentiate myself creativity, that’s essential. Some of my pre-shoots will have 10 to 20 people on location, the same as you would do in a commercial shot. We push it to the extreme!
"On the wedding day, for the main production, I’m prepping everything to achieve a particular scene or concept that we’ve sketched in advance with the couple (maybe complemented by a sudden inspiration at the time) and then, I’m there lighting it, directing it, and now I’m using the Phase IQ160."
The switch from Lightroom
"I remember clearly the first time we used the Phase One IQ160 at an event. We were using a smoke machine and the camera was set up on a tripod tethered to a laptop. It felt a bit terrifying, because it was still new, but it felt good, because once again I was pushing myself to a higher standard. The camera itself was making me be more methodical, thinking about the composition in a completely different way. Being able to get what I see in my mind onto the frame and then having it captured directly is a really rewarding process.
"And of course, Capture One has been an important part of this journey. We had been using Lightroom, but now we’re moving to Capture One Pro 7 -- as is the company to whom we’ve been outsourcing some of our workflow.
"When we first played around with Capture One was when we were processing the Phase One camera files, and we were astonished by the resolution and clarity. And then we did another shoot with the Canon because we were importing everything into Capture One, and we realized that we were doing things we didn’t think were possible with the Canon files! We realized a good portion of that credit had to be given to how the raw processing engine was working.
"Then we decided to compare an image processed in both Capture One Pro 7 and Lightroom, and what we saw was that Capture One Pro 7 was better at analyzing the file data, including understanding the specific camera, the lenses, etc. I feel like we’re still just scratching the surface. One of the biggest surprises was finding out the many things I’d liked about Nik Effex (which we’d been using with Lightroom) were already built into Capture One Pro 7!
"The workflow we use depends on what part of the story we’re telling -- the wedding is part photojournalism, part fine art, and for some weddings we produce from 500 to 800 images and the way Capture One Pro 7 analyzes and corrects/adjusts the images ends up saving us a lot of time.
"Bottom line: I’m investing in a workflow that is respected -- and expected -- in the commercial arena. I know where I want to go. Where I want to be. I can see the stepping stones and how to get there. And I see how Phase One is one big stepping stone in that process."