Behind the lens with Tess Follett
We’ve been showing off the incredible wedding work of Tess Follett for as long as we can remember, and some of her magic moments remain firmly among our favourites from over the years.
Throughout this time, our audience too has fallen for this country girl-turned-photography-pro. Tess is warm, relaxed in nature, fiercely talented and holds an eye for photographing magical moments that will take your breath away.
Sounds like a bit of a fan-fest? You betchya. Tess’ work speaks for itself (see more of that here), but getting to know the lady behind the lens was even more inspiring.
Read on for a Q&A with with the wonderful Tess Follett.
Tess, you’ve been on our radar for a long time as we simply love your work. Tell us, how did you come to be a photographer?
I grew up in a country town where I was a bit of a tomboy. I always wanted to work for National Geographic as a photographer, I think I secretly knew I was better at communicating with pictures than with words. After studying photography at RMIT, I chased my dreams and worked as a photojournalist for major media publications – but – after a while documenting some of the uglier sides of human nature, I burnt out. So I did what any self respecting 20-something year old did and packed up to travel overseas for a while and hit ‘reset’. When I came home I began shooting weddings instead and haven’t looked back since.
“Photographing people who are very much in love is very soul affirming!”
Tell us a little about the life of Tess, where do you call home and what do you love to do with your time?
I live near the beach (south of Melbourne) with my family, who are my world. When I’m not shooting weddings, you’ll find me dancing with my kids in the kitchen, going for a run or simply relaxing at the day’s end, curled up with my husband and a glass of red.
You describe your style as ‘street-style’ and inspired by high fashion composition, can you explain what this means for your clients?
My photography style is very candid. I love taking photos of people informally, when they’re less conscious of my presence. It’s the photojournalist in me! I’m also big on movement and not posing too much. The walking to and from a location…the in-between moments. Those are always my favourites. I also love playing with framing and composition, finding the magic with that, which can elevate those candid moments into something else.
“From the moment I shot my first wedding, I was hooked. The love and emotion that permeated every moment, the energy, the euphoria, the outpouring of human connection – all day long.
It’s kind of addictive documenting that much goodness. It’s also a privilege to call it my ‘job’.”
On a wedding day, what is your favourite moment to capture?
Getting to capture the love the couples have for one another and the almost palpable love coming at them from friends and family – that’s pretty special. The look on the father of the bride’s face when he sees his daughter for the first time in her dress. That one is often a pretty emotional moment (on both sides of the lens!). I would also say when a couple walks back down the aisle – just married – capturing all the hugs and kisses that await them. The emotion in those fleeting few minutes is so special. One of my favourite photos from my own wedding day is my Nanna congratulating me immediately after our wedding. The look on her face. I think those are the images you cherish most.
For the nervous Nelly’s out there, that are a little camera shy, what are your top tips for easing nerves when it comes to photography?
I want you to feel relaxed, happy, beautiful, calm and assured. The biggest compliment I ever got was how a couple felt like I was one of their guests on their wedding day. I like to get to know people throughout the day, I’ll go up to parents and grandparents and have a chat with them, I want people feeling comfortable with me while I’m photographing. Also, I like to have fun.
“Nothing makes people feel more relaxed (or look more gorgeous)
than when they’re laughing, having the time of their lives.”
What does the process look like when a couple first enquires with you, through to their wedding day and beyond?
After I’ve sent through my packages and information, I always suggest meeting up in person to get to know one another better. Don’t get me wrong, skype and zoom are amazing but nothing beats a face to face meeting. Energetically, I think it helps couples feel more relaxed on the day, like I’m more of a friend. And afterwards? Gosh, I feel so connected to so many of my couples! I’m often thinking about them when their anniversaries roll around and we’ll often stay in touch for years, as they reach out to me to document their next chapter, once they begin a family (I love shooting gorgeously glowing mothers-to-be and newborn babies and sleepy parents almost as much as I love shooting weddings!)
Share with us one of your most memorable wedding moments – whether it be hilarious, disastrous, or tear-jerking!
So many!! I remember going out for sunset photos with a couple and asking them to read out their vows again to each other. Away from the reception, just the two of them, wow – it was so intimate, so emotive. I needed a deep breath! On the flip side, some of the footloose and fancy free dance floor action has also been utterly memorable. Some parties are WILD….. fun…. but WILD. Haha. I’ll tell those stories another time 😉
What’s your favourite wedding venue to shoot at?
I love a winter wedding at Churchill or Rupert in Victoria. Lots of greenery, candles, textured walls. So romantic. In the summertime, private property weddings are pretty spectacular. There’s something about the countryside, you just get the most gorgeous light, it’s magic!
Who is your favourite bridal designer?
Just one?! Prea James, Toni Maticevski, Alca Line Bride, Zimmerman, One Day Bridal, Suzanne Harward and Georgia Young Couture.
Yay or nay to a first look?
Ooooh! Don’t get me wrong, I do love a first look (my husband and I did one) and it does mean more time with your guests, as well as breaking the nerves before the ceremony plus more variety of photographs….so…there’s a lot of pros. But there is also something breathtaking – and inimitable – in that moment a couple sees one another down the aisle for the first time. That emotion is so raw…and so special…and pretty impossible to emulate in any other setting.
Ultimate wedding destination?
A European summer wedding in Sweden, Italy or Greece.
Cocktail or beverage of choice?
Asking the tough questions now…. haha, I love a good gin. I’m also partial to a Japanese whiskey or a glass of Pinot noir too. ; )
To see more from Tess, and enquire with her about your own sweet celebration, click here.