Why I became a wedding photographer

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

Hello! I’m Laura May, a wedding photographer living in the beautiful village of Shifnal in Shropshire. I shoot weddings all over the UK, including across the Midlands and in London.

I was born in the early 80s and raised in Shifnal, with a sense of adventure kick-started by my Grandparents who took the whole family off on package holidays to Spain, Greece and, yep, Wales. From that point on I got the travel bug. And as soon as I could, I went off to university in Manchester and then Cheltenham, before settling in London for five years.

Along the way I travelled to some amazing places; Iceland, Australia, NYC, Las Vegas, Russia, Hong Kong, Spain, Greece, Ireland, Florence, Corfu, Germany (Rock AM Festival!)… I once did a gumball rally from London to Monaco driving through most of Europe—though I’m not sure if they would all count as me having visited them! Occasionally I incorporate a yoga retreat somewhere into my travels; Goa and Ibiza most recently.

two women sitting on a boat in Iceland nicely wrapped up warm with the sea behind them

Live music is always better; be it gigs or festivals. I love Wolverhampton Civic (it’s finally re-opening soon!) and I’ve attended Glastonbury five times but my lucky “I can always get tickets!” fingers lost their luck after 2010 and haven’t been since. If you have a spare ticket, let me know?  

As a kid I dreamed of being a rock star (anyone else dress up in tulle skirts and fingerless gloves and dance along to Madonna?! No? Just me then) and then, when I had to be serious, I wanted to work in radio, but life had other plans.

When I landed back in Shifnal in my late twenties with a shiny new DSLR in tow (a gift from my Grandad Norman), I had no idea what to do with it.

When I’m not photographing you’ll find me walking Reggie The Frenchie or snuggling on the sofa with Reggie perfecting my ability to binge watch Netflix! Or hanging out with my nieces or nephew.

laughing woman sat with a french bulldog

If you’ve landed here from my about me page then you’ll already know why I love photographing weddings, so I’ll skip over that and dive into the how

The photography journey

The plan was never to be a photographer. It never crossed my mind you could make money from photography—it was just something I did. I always had a camera on me and it was a natural part of family life.

I never pursued photography in my education, I read Media Communications and left with a 2:1. When I finished uni I actually thought I’d move to London and work in radio. 

That didn’t happen.

Instead I took a sales job which saw me through living in London for five years. It was in this time Grandad bought me my first Nikon DSLR. I spent weekends visiting galleries and my favourite has to be the National Portrait Gallery and V&A, I adore portraits!

When I finally started taking an interest in photography professionally, I realised it had always been around me. I was passionate about taking photos. 

I always borrowed my Grandad’s film camera over my teenage years for taking pictures of friends at school and family way before camera phones were a thing.

I had a friend called Pete who would develop reams of film for me as he worked at Kodak in Telford. I once returned from a summer holiday aged 16 with 24 rolls of film, I was definitely snap happy.

My Grandad Norman had always taken photos and developed them himself. I have photos of my mum as a baby, all my family growing up, all documented in old albums at his house—you can see a small selection on my about me page. I absolutely love looking through them.

I have photos from family holidays, special occasions and have loads of printed photos of my school friends. 

And it wasn’t just Norman. My Grandparents on my Dad’s side always had a camera to hand too— they also understood the importance of documenting their life. I have some amazing old photos of my Gran in the war. Grandad Stanley had his own style nailed; every picture being lop sided and people with the top of their heads chopped off!

So, I digress.

Back living in Shifnal with my new DSLR, I decided to enroll onto a course for film photography and development. At the same time, I was applying what I learned to the digital camera—and with the help of Grandad, I mastered the basics.

And that’s where it all began. People started asking me to photograph them and their families, events etc. I started photographing newborn babies and thought that would be my business niche— you can read about a little of that journey here.

But in 2018 I decided to become a wedding photographer. I wanted to capture love, connection, big celebratory occasions—all the important things in my own life.

After some extensive research, I signed up for a 6 month mentoring and photography business course with Kate Hopwell-Smith. This mentoring programme taught me the foundations of running a photography business alongside Kate’s excellent in-depth camera and photography techniques. Kate is one of the best teachers I’ve come across in the business.

On this course I made photography friends for life and was also introduced to Jessica Raphael who was a friend of Kate’s and came along to model for the group. Jessica is a wedding photographer also and soon after that day invited me to second shoot for her at her own booked weddings. Second shooting for Jessica and many other photographers who I met along the way helped build my knowledge, experience and confidence.

Hands down one of the best ways to learn is on the job. It builds a sense of how you want to work and who you want to work with.

Find out more about my approach to weddings here.

I hope you enjoyed that insight into my photography journey! I would love to be able to give to you, what my Grandad and family gave to me; memories and sentiment of a period of time in the past which otherwise could be lost forever. The albums piled up in my Grandparents and parents home are tangible memories for me and my family to continue to share with future generations.It would give me the greatest pleasure to do this for you too.




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