Last November, Simon and Sophie of Bayly & Moore skipped over from Auckland, NZ to good ol’ Radelaide to shoot a wedding. We were more than happy to host them for the weekend and show them a little of what SA has to offer.
The day started with the unfortunate mishap of our remote controlled gate slamming repeatedly in to the side of Si and Soph’s rental car. Oops! But we weren’t going to let that be a bad omen for the day of adventuring ahead. So we piled into Josh’s slightly smaller hatchback and headed down the coast (as you do in SA). Having never been to Adelaide before we thought it necessary to do what you do in A-town and head straight for the wineries for some gourmet deliciousness. Can we just pause for a moment and mention that the Prosecco at Alpha Box and Dice in McLaren Vale is top-freaking-notch!
Next, we did what any good hosts would do, and made a beeline straight for the South Coast’s most famous tourist attraction, Maslin Beach (known for being Australia’s first official ULCLAD beach). I can’t say why we chose to go there, perhaps the incredible multi-coloured cliffs called to us. But after being greeted by a rather well endowed fellow with a fondness for genital piercings, I thought to myself, ‘this isn’t going well’.
Wildlife encounters aside, we spent some time scaling cliffs, shooting film and chatting deeply about all things art, music, travel and photography. We seemed to hold a running conversation for the entire length of their visit… Si and Soph just have so much to give, and they give it willingly and regularly. In fact, we learned so much from them in those few days that it sort of felt like our own private workshop.
“Just be a person”
By far the best advice I’ve ever received actually came from Simon during an earlier conversation at their place in Auckland. We were discussing the personal approach to photography as a business, and breaking it down to those four simple words [just be a person] made all the sense in the world. Those words have guided literally every conversation I’ve had with couples, vendors, wedding guests and fellow photographers ever since. The massive upside to just letting go and being yourself even when the industry suggests you need to be “professional” is that over time you’ll attract people who dig the same shiz as you, and the whole process becomes easier. I can’t thank Si enough for that little tid-bit of advice! – Josh
Back on the road we headed further south along the coast and even deeper down the philosophical rabbit hole of wedding photography. What I love about long drives with groups of people is how close you all become… There wasn’t a lot of room in the car for small talk. Actually for Sophie, who was sandwiched in the middle seat between Dan and their fellow Kiwi friend, Andy, there wasn’t a lot of room for anything… But never the less, in between kangaroo spotting we talked about family, work-life balance, industry trends, quality of light in different parts of the world and how lucky we all are to do this job for a living.
More golden nuggets of thoughtfulness came in the form of ideas on how to be more creative and find a style of your own. Essentially they described that by experiencing art in a multitude of ways you’ll inevitably hone a style of your own based on what you’re drawn to… show that stuff (the stuff you like), and you’ll attract like minded people. It’s the illusive “finding your voice thing” that you hear photographers talk about all the time, but Si and Soph have a way of making it seem effortless.
Next, we arrived at Second Valley for a little photo walk / rock climbing expedition. The light that day was incredible and I thought to myself perhaps great light just follows great photographers… if so, then we felt even more fortunate to have these guys hanging out in our home state, since the photos we got that day were so beautiful. We weren’t shooting anything specific, just a bunch of photographers hanging out on some cliffs, skimming stones and pointing out dolphins. But in some ways it was the perfect afternoon… After sunset, we capped it off by cracking a few craft brews, and munging down some gourmet cheese, olives and dips as we sat by the jetty and tried to ignore the high school girls dancing to Brittany Spears on the sand.
The whole experience pretty much inspired the idea for this workshop/retreat (not to mention some other adventures that we’re planning).
Si and Soph are well and truly on the photography speaking circuit these days… and rightly so! Their approach is centred around organic connection with their couples, which results in a level of trust that allows them to be uber creative, not to mention be flown around the world documenting wedding stories. They also have a dialled down editing style that is unmistakably theirs and inspired by their own actual experience with specific film types. Their stuff is absolutely swoon worthy! Probably the most amazing thing about these guys is their philosophy on sharing information with other photographers… They really are an open book, and I think it was Soph who mentioned that they had a lot of help from other photographers while they were coming up so, sharing their knowledge and experiences is just like paying it forward.
It’s safe to say we admire these guys so much… and these days you might be able to catch them at one of their speaking engagements around the world, where they preach Build yourself, not your brand… pretty self explanatory, but I bet anyone who has the opportunity to hear what they have to say will have their minds blown! One thing we asked them specifically was ‘ how does one know when they’re ready to teach photography, either by way of a workshops or mentoring (which almost seems to be the natural progression these days although we’re all continually learning), to which Si said something like:
Stuff moves so fast [in this industry] that if you give anyone exact step-by-step knowledge then it’ll be obsolete in 3 months anyway, but giving people a way to start a dialogue about larger ideas will see most people shift their thinking in a more solid way.
With this in mind, The Wolf Pack Retreat is certainly more experience and relationship focussed as opposed to technical “how to” stuff. We’re certain that we’re on to something with this adventure, and we have Simon and Sophie to thank from the bottom of our hearts for probably without knowing it giving us the push we needed to pay it forward in our own way and build something special in this underrated corner of the globe!