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Podcast Episode 29: This is Alison Bounce

Super excited to have the fab Alison Bounce with us for episode 29 of the This is Reportage Podcast! Winner of no less than 12 Reportage Awards, Alison is not only one of the best wedding photographers in France, but she’s also a brilliant underwater photographer too, something which we dive into (sorry, had to do that pun!) – amongst many other things – on the episode today.

Stick with us as Alison shares all about:

  • how she went from being a firefighter to photographer,
  • how she’s currently dealing with the pandemic,
  • her thoughts on weddings themselves and why she likes photographing them,
  • her first ever wedding,
  • how she got into underwater photography (after initially being scared of water!),
  • her favourite TV series,
  • advice for entering our awards (Alison was a judge for us in Collection 6)
  • an amusing story behind one of her recent Reportage Awards,
  • how her cat has changed her life,
  • top tips for starting out in the industry,
  • giving at workshops and receiving in return,
  • the bloody tale of what happened after one of her Reportage Awards,
  • why moment trumps composition and light,
  • what annoys her about the industry,
  • shy she doesn’t like to book weddings too long in advance,
  • what makes her happy,
  • her thoughts on second shooters and why it’s important they meet the couple beforehand,
  • the most challenging aspect of wedding photography,
  • and much more…

As always, you can listen on iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts, YouTube, or below in this post (with a full transcript, too).

Alan Law:

Hey Alison, how you doing?

Alison Bounce:

Hi Alan. Good, how are you?

Alan Law:

Oh yeah, I’m fine. I’m fine. Thanks. Yeah, all good. Yeah. Well, how is it with you, cause is it the first day you’re able to go outside in France without a permit? Is it or

Alison Bounce:

Yes, absolutely. I have been in quarantine for two months now, so it’s been a long time. It’s nice to go out today.

Alan Law:

Have you been able to go out for exercise or anything?

Alison Bounce:

Actually I hurt my knee two months ago, just before the quarantine, so I can practice for now. But yeah I just go out to go to the supermarket, you know, some stuff like that only.

Alan Law:

Right. Oh man. But also nice today though, being able to go out. Is it good weather at the moment over there?

Alison Bounce:

Not today. It’s raining. But all the past day during the quarantine was really, really sunny, so it was, yeah, the weather looked like summer and we were only locked inside, so yeah.

Alan Law:

Oh yeah. That is frustrating though. That was frustrating. And how has it been for you in terms of your wedding bookings? I guess a lot have postponed. Have they?

Alison Bounce:

Yeah. I actually have a lot of work to report my wedding. So I spent many times on zoom with my client to talk about their wedding because it’s not allowed to get married in France until I think September because they don’t recommend to be more than 10 people in the same room. So yeah, they have to cancel their wedding. And yeah, so a lot of chats with my couples.

Alan Law:

And how have your couple’s been? Have they been okay? I guess it’s just an awful time for all of us, isn’t it? Really?

Alison Bounce:

Yeah, it’s not nice for them because they are waiting for this moment for maybe one or two years now. So the most difficult part is to be here for them, to listen to them and to help to make our best to change the date and to understand what they’re feeling and what they, how can I explain?

Alan Law:

Well, I know what you mean. Yeah. It’s definitely makes a big deal for them. I mean, I think naturally a lot of us are thinking in terms of, you know, our wedding photography businesses, but it’s so important to remember that the couples are really going through a lot and it’s an awful thing.

Alison Bounce:

Yeah, absolutely. Certainly.

Alan Law:

But anyway, okay, I’m sure it’s all going to be good. It’s slowly getting better. In the UK today, they have eased some of the lockdowns. I’ve heard from June the 1st, it’s possible that maybe some smaller, very small weddings may go ahead. That’s what I’ve heard today. So it’s going in the right direction, I guess.

Alison Bounce:

Okay. Fingers crossed. Yeah, I hope so for them because a lot of brides and grooms are hoping to get married maybe later in this year, so some of them will report on October or November. So I’m hoping they could do it. Yeah.

Alan Law:

Yeah. Fingers crossed. I hope so by then. I hope so. So, okay, let’s go back to the beginning, Alison. What were you like growing up? Did you always want to be a photographer when you were a kid? How did you get into weddings? That was a lot of questions.

Alison Bounce:

Yeah. Actually I was not destined for this work. Yeah, I’ve been a firefighter for 10 years before to become a photographer. Yeah.

Alan Law:

Really? Wow. That’s amazing. That’s quite a change from firefighter to photographer.

Alison Bounce:

Yeah, totally different. So I started a specific school when I was 13. It’s, I don’t know the equivalent in Europe, but in France it’s a young firefighter. So you are following some course in place of your regular courses, school courses from 13 to 16, then you are volunteer. So you are a firefighter, volunteer for two years and then you can be a professional when you are 18, yeah, so this is what I did. And

Alan Law:

Wow, because I think shooting weddings is a bit nerve wracking, but actually firefighting must be a lot more nerve wracking though. Were you not afraid to do that?

Alison Bounce:

Oh, no. I was super excited. All the time, yeah, In France, firefighter, it’s not just about fire. So you can be called for emergency like ambulances or fire, sometimes for flooding. Yeah, it’s very, very different. So all of the intervention are so, so excited. So yeah, I think I love adrenalin.

Alan Law:

Yeah, I bet you must do. So from 13, it’s quite young to know you wanted to be a firefighter then. Was there something that happened when you were young that really made you want to do that then?

Alison Bounce:

Oh, I actually have no idea. I always loved action movie and I don’t know, I was super sportive and yeah, this is where you have to practice all the time and yeah, I was not a normal girl, you know, playing with a doll or anything. So I think it’s maybe for that. Yeah.

Alan Law:

Oh, that’s proper cool. So how, how did you go from firefighting to wedding photographer then? What happened there?

Alison Bounce:

Oh, so I quit my job as firefighter in 2010 and I asked myself what I’m going to do now because my degree was about sports. I have a sport degree and it was super hard to find a job in this in this way. So I decided to restart a new degree. So I’ve been to school again, university again, and in the same time a good friend of mine offered me my first camera. Before that I never touched a camera. So I started photography in 2011 just like a hobby first. And in the same time of my second university courses I had the opportunity to photograph some events, night event in the discotheque in the disco. And I really like it. I really like to play with the lights, with the ambient and everything. So after that I finished my degrees and I did my first work show and I opened a travel blog. So every day I post my photo on and a lot of people told me, Oh, that’s cool. It’s like if we are travelling with you, it’s very, very interesting. Tell me when you are going, when you are going back, we’re interested maybe to have a photo shoot session with you. And first time I was like, Oh really? Can I do that?

Alan Law:

How were you showing your photos at the time? Was it a website or social media or?

Alison Bounce:

On a blog. Yeah, on my travel blog too. It was like a kind of website. Yeah.

Alan Law:

Oh Okay, cool. Cool. So what happened then? How did you get that first wedding?

Alison Bounce:

So it was a wedding of friends. They asked me to come for the day and for me it was super hard to say yes because I don’t like weddings. For me wedding is the worst day of the life so I really don’t like it, but I did it. I was super curious to spend the day with them.

https://alisonbounce.com/mariage-en-bourgogne/

Alan Law:

Yeah. But had you been to many weddings before then as a guest then? And you just didn’t, you weren’t keen on weddings, no?

Alison Bounce:

Yeah, no, no. I don’t like wedding yet. Yeah wedding is not my favourite actually, but it’s a good, good playground. So it’s a pretext to photograph very funny or emotional moments. This is why I can love weddings, but I never choose to photograph weddings because I like weddings. Now I am wedding photographer only because I’m looking for to photograph what is not wedding actually. I don’t know if that makes sense for you.

Alan Law:

Yeah, no, I totally get that. I think that’s a really cool way of looking at it. Yeah. It’s not specifically about that kind of marriage. It’s about people and interaction and yeah, that’s great, I think.

Alison Bounce:

Yep. Yep. So all of my work is about okay, what I can shoot, what doesn’t look like a wedding moment or, yeah. This is so funny. Okay, let’s do it. This is only my motivation. It’s about that. It’s not about, okay they are going to say yes and. No, I don’t care about that. It’s actually boring for me. So yeah.

Alan Law:

That’s really cool though. I mean, that’s really good. And so when you did that first wedding, you enjoyed it and your friends must’ve liked the photos, I guess.

Alison Bounce:

Yeah. The photos were really awful. Yeah. I wasn’t good, but the wedding was really messy. There was no organization and a lot of people was super distracted. There were no consent by the wedding because the guests was not agree with that wedding so all the time they discuss about everything and just critic the bride and the groom. But for me it was fun because I have very strong connection and I was like okay, I’m a spy. I’m not listening about what they are talking about, but I can watch their face, so I shoot that and it was super exciting. Yeah.

Alan Law:

That’s cool. Cool. And so you just went from it after that wedding, did you? Just went for it?

Alison Bounce:

Yeah. I show my photo. And like I told you the photographs was very awful. But after that I get five weddings. So I don’t know why. So I did it, I accepted and all the time I post my photo on social network and I get more wedding, more wedding, and then I practice my skills and now I’m a wedding photographer. I don’t know how to explain that. It’s a bit like yeah.

Alan Law:

It’s cool. It’s organically happened. And you’re so good. You’ve won so many awards and been judges for lots of different associations as well. How does wedding photography differ to firefighting then? Are they similar in any ways?

Alison Bounce:

If I’m feeling the same when I was firefighter?

Alan Law:

Yeah. Yeah. Sorry, I just wonder how if like weddings just seem so different to firefighting, but I wonder if there are any similarities between weddings and firefighting.

Alison Bounce:

Yeah, for me it’s similar because when you arrive on the wedding, you don’t know what’s going to happen. So this is my adrenalin actually. And as a wedding photographer you have to be like a swift knife. You know, I don’t know. You have to know how to do everything like portrait, reportage, some tricky things with flash, off flash camera and everything. So you have to be flexible and this is what I like. So I’m always excited to arrive on my wedding and to live the wedding, to live the day. And yeah, it’s the same for fire fighter when you arrived on accident intervention, you don’t know what’s going to happen so you have to be flexible to think very fast and to anticipate everything. So, yeah.

Alan Law:

Oh, that’s cool. I love that. I love that. And that’s really cool. It’s also quite ironic how you’re a firefighter because as well as weddings, your other speciality is underwater photography, which is kind of like the opposite of firefighting or they go hand in hand, I guess. But I also read that you used to be afraid of water. Is that right? Can you tell us about that and how you got into your underwater photography then?

Alison Bounce:

Yeah, I was afraid of water. I learned to swim when I was 20, because to be professional firefighter, I have to pass some exam and one of them was a swim test, so you have to swim 50 meter and then to do a shot apnoea. And I was not able to swim at that time. So I learned to how to swim when I was in university, in state university for my first degree. And I was really afraid about water. I was able only to stay in water and not move, but to get some magic to put my head under water was super difficult, so.

Alan Law:

Oh, really? So you didn’t do much swimming as a child then at all really? No?

Alison Bounce:

Oh, just like the dog, you know?

Alan Law:

That’s funny. Yeah. So then how did you get into your underwater photography then?

Alison Bounce:

Five years ago I’ve been in Philippines and I was swimming. Actually I was looking for some beautiful fish and there with my GoPro just, yeah, snorkelling. And just next to me a woman was in the water, she was pregnant and she played with her son, her little son, and I was watching that because she wore a white dress and the dress was floatable under the water and with the light it was super cool. So I was watching that and at this moment she takes her son and she put him under water and I never did that before. I never saw that before, I mean. The child was like super happy in the water, smiling and open his eyes and that was so great, this moment really. But in my head I was like, Oh my God, she’s trying to drown him. She’s going to kill him because I had never before to heard about aqua baby. I didn’t know about that before so. When she finished, I go out the water and I look for on my computer about aqua baby. And the funny thing is I discovered the Nirvana cover album, you know that? I didn’t know that. So yeah. And I went and I told myself, okay, Ali, this is super, you can do it. You have to photograph a pregnancy woman under the water and baby, this is so cool. And nobody did that before in Europe. So I purchased my first housing. My, yeah, housing. You know, underwater housing. And yeah, it was a big deal for me because I was not sure to sell this kind of session. But I did my first and like in wedding I post the photo and the second one I post the photo and I get three. And I post the photo I get 10 and everything. It’s very organic. So now I’m underwater photographer.

Alan Law:

That’s so cool. That’s really, really cool. Yeah. So is it mainly pregnant women, but I’ve seen your work. You do, you’re not just pregnant women, you do lots of other things under water as well, don’t you?

Alison Bounce:

Yep. I started by pregnancy women first, then after by commercial and I’m doing some documentary underwater photography.

Alan Law:

Documentary underwater. How does that work?

Alison Bounce:

Actually I’m just following people like I did three months ago, I been in Antarctica, so I go on sailing boats from five weeks and I follow an expedition and I was able to document the expedition on the boats, but also in the water. So that was so cool for me. I dive with an iceberg and we sailed to Leopold. So that was so super cool.

Alan Law:

Wow. That’s Very cool. I think cool is the right word as well. Wasn’t it absolutely freezing in the water?

Alison Bounce:

Oh yeah. Super freezing but not super cold actually because the water is like zero or one degree. It’s not negative. So it’s okay if you have a good wet suit. It’s okay.

Alan Law:

It still sounds pretty cold to me. I never swim in the sea in England and I think that’s warmer than one degree. Have you ever been able to combine your wedding photography and your underwater photography? Have you ever shot a wedding where there’s been a swimming pool at the wedding and the bride and groom have gone in or anything?

Alison Bounce:

Yeah, for our trash the dress. I used to travel around the world now for my wedding, like a destination wedding photographer. But all the time my couple asked me to bring my housing and to have some cool shots under water. Yes they like it. So it’s another station. So usually we do that after the wedding because we are going to put the dress and the suit underwater. And for me it’s cool because it’s another experience for them so I can connect more with them. And this is very important to connect with my couple. So and yeah, people never do that before. So the, sorry.

Alan Law:

No, that’s okay. No. Cool. They must be quite nervous of doing it though. Do they have to hold their breath for like, you know, 30 seconds at a time or also or do you keep going up and down or do you have like oxygen underneath or how do you do it?

Alison Bounce:

Oh no, it’s all in apnoea. So they never do that before. So they are super nervous. And then this is my role to teach them how to hold their breath. So how to practice short apnoea like 10 or 15 seconds, it’s okay to get the shot. So first we start by very quick, fast exercise about how to breathe and then we go in a pool or in ocean together and we practice.

Alan Law:

Ah Okay. Wow. Cool. Wow. I think it’s brilliant and it’s such a unique kind of angle to your photography as well. I think it’s really, really cool. If people are listening, you know, away from, if they’re like outside at last at the moment, you know, head to thisisreportage.com at some point and I’ll include lots of links to Alison’s underwater work as well as your wedding stuff as well. Okay. Let’s change tack slightly, Alison. What’s your favourite TV series ever or what are you watching at the moment? Do you watch much telly?

Alison Bounce:

Not TV, but Netflix.

Alan Law:

Oh yeah. Cool. Yeah. Netflix is so good. Netflix, isn’t it? Yeah. What do you like on Netflix then?

Alison Bounce:

Netflix, the last TV show I watch is You, the TV show You.

Alan Law:

Is that about the stalker type guy?

Alison Bounce:

Yeah, it’s similar of Dexter. But you have a nice guy who is killing people. Yeah. That’s funny.

Alan Law:

Oh. That’s funny.

Alison Bounce:

But actually the best TV show ever is for me Game of Thrones, but it’s not on Netflix. It’s on HBO.

Alan Law:

Yeah. Similar. Yeah. It was amazing, wasn’t it? That was amazing. I loved Game of Thrones. Yeah. Did you like the ending? A lot of people did not like the ending, but I liked the ending actually.

Alison Bounce:

Oh no, I don’t like the ending because for me it’s too fast. Okay yeah, I would prefer to have more episodes because it’s too fast. Yeah. I like the scene of the war, the final war. This is so cool. The visuals, the light and the ambience. It’s very, very, very cool. But yeah, the rest for me it’s too fast.

https://alisonbounce.com/mariage-en-bourgogne/

Alan Law:

Oh, okay. Yeah, I guess it did end quickly, didn’t it? But, Oh, so good. Yeah. If people haven’t watched that, definitely. It’d be good to be able to watch that for the first time again, actually. I think that’d be cool. Okay. I know that we’re on a slightly different tack as well. If you had three wishes, what would you wish for?

Alison Bounce:

Oh, wow. Super hard. Three wishes. I actually have no idea.

Alan Law:

Oh, I know. I wouldn’t have a clue either. I don’t know.

Alison Bounce:

Yeah, the first one could be the planet going well because now for me, the world has stopped. Everywhere in the world, so it’s very stop. So I could wish everything going well now.

Alan Law:

That would be good. We’d all appreciate that one. That would be good. Yeah.

Alison Bounce:

Yeah. Just, yeah. To be able to go everywhere we want because I like to travel to free myself free to travel and at this moment the borders are closed so it’s so frustrating. Yeah. So this is the first one maybe.

Alan Law:

Okay. Now that’s a good one. I like that. That’s a good one.

Alison Bounce:

Oh three wishes. I have no idea. Sorry.

Alan Law:

No, that’s cool. We can leave it with one wish because that is a good wish. Let’s leave it with that one wish. So that’s good. You were a judge for us back in collection six, you know, thank you again for your time and expertise. That’s great. Do you have any advice for entering, you know, our awards from a judge’s perspective? You know, because you saw all the entries. Do you have any kind of tips or thoughts about that that could help people?

Alison Bounce:

Yep. Select the photo you like, select only the photo you love and represents yourself. Don’t look too much, too many wedding photography or don’t watch too much the photo already around. Don’t look yeah.

Alan Law:

I think that’s really good advice. People staying true to themselves

Alison Bounce:

Just photograph as you are and select the photo you like. Yeah. You don’t have to use the perfect photo to win an award. It’s not important to win. It’s important to show the photo that represents yourself. So, yeah, this is how I selected my photo when I’m sending to the contest. My friend are always laughing about me because I used to send what we called a poker photo. This is the photo where I’m not expected by the judges, by the jury. So it’s all the time different photo. And I think this is what we should do all the time. Just send the photo who represents us. It’s worth the possibility of winning photo. Yeah. Sorry.

Alison Bounce

Alan Law:

That’s great. And I think that’s brilliant advice, honestly. Really, really, really is really, really good advice. Yeah. The images that you absolutely love and that is you and not yet as you say, not to be looking at what other people are doing all the time. I think that’s great. One of your actual recent reportage awards (above) that you won recently is one of my personal favourites. There’s the one with lots of doors with what looks like a bridesmaid or a guest looking through one of the doors and it’s like a, do you know which one I mean that you won recently?

Alison Bounce:

Oh yeah, she was talking with the bride to ask if she was finished because the bride was, sorry, she was in the toilet.

Alan Law:

Oh, that’s so funny to know that backstory. Well, that’s so interesting because the image itself, it looks so, it’s like fine art in my opinion. I love the composition, the leading lines, the colours and it’s so funny to hear that, the backstory. It’s funny.

Alison Bounce:

Thank you. Actually, this is funny because I was not supposed to send this photo out. Yeah, so I was in Polynesia in December and I was editing some photo for my Instagram feed and I get back this one and I was like, okay, interesting. What can I do with that? And I post on my social and my friend Patrick, I don’t know if you know Patrick Lombaert? Patrick wrote me and told me, Ali, this photo is super brilliant. You have to do something with that. You have to send to contests and this is really cool actually. So I was like, oh, it’s just about line and colours and maybe light. And on my mind I was thinking about the moment and about the bridesmaid, hey Jenny, are you finished to poop? And I was like okay, let’s try to post it in and to send it on the contest. And finally she gained an award. That’s incredible.

Alan Law:

Does the bride know that it’s won an award? Does the bride know?

Alison Bounce:

Yeah, the bride was super, super happy about that.

Alan Law:

Oh, I love that though. That is so funny, I just did not expect that. That is so funny. I would put that image up on the site so if you come to thisisreportage.com there’ll be a full transcript of this and you’ll see which image that we’re talking about there as well. Oh, that’s awesome. I also read that you have a tattoo of your cat. Is that true? You must really love cats.

Alison Bounce:

Yeah. I love cats. Cats is definitely my life and my cat name is My Lord. It’s in the reference of game of throne. Yeah. It’s four years old now. And yeah, it definitely changed my life. I think I’m a cat. I’m having a cat life.

Alan Law:

It changed your life? How did it change your life?

Alison Bounce:

Because My Lord is like me. It’s like a mirror for me, so he has the same character of me and yeah, he understand me. I know it’s maybe weird but we have very strong connection together. I think it’s like me. Really.

Alan Law:

Oh, that’s lovely though. I think that’s very, very nice. That’s cool. Okay, let’s change tack again slightly, but what would be your top tips for people just starting out in the industry? How long have you been shooting by the way?

Alison Bounce:

So I started photographing in 2011, but as a full time photographer in 2014. So it’s six years now.

Alan Law:

Right? Six years. Okay. That’s a good amount of time. Yeah. Do you have any tips for people just starting out now? Say if you were just starting out, what do you think would be a good thing to do?

Alison Bounce:

Yeah, first about photography skill, just shoot as you are. Forget the rules, forget everything. Just shoot as you feel, as you watch and as you understand what you are seeing. So there’s no rules. Just shoot as you feel. This is for me, very, very important. There’s no obligation. There’s no, I know photography impose a lot of rules about skills, about technical, about everything. For me, I don’t care about that. I just do what I want to do. Yeah. So this is what I can, yeah. A tip I can give. Yeah.

Alan Law:

I think that’s best tip, honestly. It is because also it’s so competitive, our industry, so you need to stand out and you stand out by being yourself rather than doing what everybody else does. So yeah, it is probably the top tip that you could give. I think that’s great. That’s really good.

Alison Bounce:

It definitely is. It define your style and yeah, as you told we are a lot, so if we do all the same, this is not really interesting. So you have to impose your style too. Yeah. Photography, it’s about personality and character, so Yeah. Yeah.

Alan Law:

Yeah. That’s great. That’s cool. You’ve done your own workshop ‘Make it Bounce’ which is a great name. Yeah. I love that. That’s great. Did you enjoy doing that? You know, were you nervous launching your own workshop and putting it out there?

Alison Bounce:

I’m always nervous because it’s not easy to stand by people and to teach something to say, okay, here is my story, here is my experience, here is how I’m working and this is not the right way. This is just a possibility. This is what I choose to do. So you have to be really confident to do that. And this is not easy for me to be like that so I’m always nervous, but the fact is I really like to teach, to share something with people because I bring something, I bring my experience, but what they bringing me back, it’s so, yeah, it’s, huger. we discuss about everything and, they’re always have another perspective of mine, so it’s like constriction and, yeah So they give me a lot to me too, so I love that.

Alan Law:

Oh that’s cool. Will you do more of those then at some point? I guess it’s hard to do a workshop at the moment where you can’t actually be in close contact with anyone, but it sounds like you really enjoy that and that you’ll do more of those in the future then.

Alison Bounce:

Yeah. I’m thinking maybe to convert, make it bounce online. Yeah, because in France we have the possibility to have some Oh, I don’t know. I would say some finance, economic finance to participate to workshop and yeah. Some photographer asked me to do my workshop online, so why not? Yeah why not? It could be fun actually.

Alison Bounce

Alan Law:

Yeah. Oh, you should do it. Definitely do it. Do it. I wanted to ask as well, another one of your Reportage awards is a shot of the groom breaking the top off a champagne bottle with I think with a knife, which is awesome. I was looking at your blog posts and I noticed the next shot in your blog post, it looks like he’s got blood on his face. Is that blood on his face?

Alison Bounce:

Yeah, it’s blood. Yeah, he hurt himself. So

Alan Law:

That’s mad. From chopping the champagne.

Alison Bounce:

His name is Alexi and he’s a wine maker. So he decided to get married in very beautiful wine venue. And it was super happy after to say yes and say, okay, let’s do something with this Champagne. I can use a knife to open it. And I was like, okay, let’s go. I want to shoot it. And in the same time he opened the bottle and the bottle burst so I continued to shoot, shoot, shoot. And I was only focused on my shooting, you know, and it’s after I realized it was bloody on his face so it gets scared or the thing scared off our reporter.

Alan Law:

Oh yeah. Wow man. Oh that’s mad. But he was okay cause, yeah, it was this a small cut, was it? But it’s quite a lot of blood on the photo it seems.

Alison Bounce:

Yeah, it was super bloody. But fortunately his new wife was a nurse and everything finally was okay. But he asked me to not shoot him for the rest of the day. But for me it was super funny to shoot him. So I did a lot of portraits just to remember how stupid you can be when you have a big ego too. Yeah.

Alan Law:

That’s funny. Wow. That’s cool though. Wow. It’s so interesting. I’ve never seen, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone hurt themselves at a wedding. Yeah. I think, yeah, that’s mad. Mad, mad, mad. Is that one of the most bizarre things you’ve seen at a wedding? Have you seen any other very strange things at your weddings?

Alison Bounce:

Oh, a lot. One time the father didn’t come at the church.

Alan Law:

All right.

Alison Bounce:

Yeah, the father or priest.

Alan Law:

Oh, right. Oh, the priest. I thought you meant like the father of the bride then, but yeah, the father. Oh, okay. The priest or father? Yes.

Alison Bounce:

Yeah. So the priest didn’t come at the church and we are waiting for like that maybe two hours, two hours, two hours. And really and finally after two hours someone come and say, okay, sorry, I forget.

Alan Law:

Wow. That is bizarre.

Alison Bounce:

Yeah. Just really relaxed, he came like, sorry, I forget. Okay. We are waiting for two hours. It’s like 75 degree outside. We are super-hot. It’s like okay, slow mode.

Alan Law:

Oh, that is funny. That’s funny. That’s funny. Okay. What’s more important to you? Composition, light or moment?

Alison Bounce:

Definitely moments. Yeah. I don’t, like I told you I don’t care about the rules about composition. Light is important for me because I like to play with contrast. So I like to shoot with sun all the time. I like to play with shadow and sunny path. But yeah, moments are more important because if nothing happened on the photo they have no sense for me. Yeah. I can feel the emotion of people or the connection. So for me it doesn’t matter. It’s just a photo, you know?

Alan Law:

Yeah. I totally agree. Yeah, totally agree. Totally agree. Is there anything that bugs you, that annoys you about our industry at all?

Alison Bounce:

Yeah, the competition.

Alan Law:

Oh really? Yeah?

Alison Bounce:

Yeah. I don’t like the competition. I like to send my photo to the contest because I’m challenging myself with that. Okay? Before I applied to the contest, I was not able to show my photograph because I was shy. So I just posted some of them like that on my social to say, Hey, I’m still alive. I’m still wedding photographer. But yeah, that’s it. And one day my friend Annie told me, Ali, you have to show your photo. It’s very important. Maybe you can subscribe to community, like Fearless or This is Reportage, and I started to play the contest and I was super surprised for it, I didn’t expect that I won some award. So I was like, oh, cool. It could be happening. Okay, cool. But after that a lot of people contact me and yeah, asked me as friend on Facebook and everything, and the same people would have never talked to me before. Yeah. I didn’t exist for them before and I realized that this is a very big contest of ego. And I don’t like that. I’m not like that. For me contest is just for me and to show my photo, it’s a pleasure. And in France, and I suppose in other country, people are playing just to win and they’re able to do very well stuff to win too. I don’t like this kind of mind. Yeah.

Alan Law:

Ah, cool. And that’s so interesting to hear about. Yeah, and I totally get where you’re coming from there as well. And yeah, as people, as you say, all have all different types of reasons for entering and yeah, I guess it’s very interesting. Yeah, I know exactly what you mean.

Alison Bounce:

Yeah.

https://alisonbounce.com/mariage-en-bourgogne/

Alan Law:

How do you get most of your wedding enquiries? Do you know?

Alison Bounce:

First of all, you have to know that I used to book my wedding only six months before the wedding, right? Yeah. Never before. So I have a lot of enquiries like one year before the day and I refuse to book, because for me, everything can happen. So I’m not sure to be able one year before the wedding. Maybe I don’t want to, I’m not sure to be a wedding photographer for the rest of my life, so I prefer to stay flexible and yeah. And to only have many surprise about couple who broke up before the day. So yeah, I prefer to book very short time before and my couple are very are really spontaneous. Yeah. All of them are getting married or decide to get married like two months before the day. And yeah, they are a bit crazy too. I prefer that.

Alan Law:

Does it not make you a bit more nervous about knowing about your income? About the money side? You know, because you don’t know if you’re going to be booked a year in advance and things. Does that not worry you on that side?

Alison Bounce:

Yeah, it’s a risk. It’s a risk of course. But I like it.

Alan Law:

That’s so cool. I love that.

Alison Bounce:

Yeah. For me it’s cool, but it could be a risk. But actually with the current situation with COVID, it’s super cool because my season next week, sorry, next year it’s empty. So it makes it very, very easy for me to report my wedding on next year. I don’t know if you understand what I mean.

Alan Law:

No, I totally understand. Yeah, totally. That is a good side of that approach then definitely. That’s cool. And so your couples are more spontaneous and they just decide they want to get married or book a photographer within three, six months, how are they then finding you? Do you get bookings through Instagram and things or is it?

Alison Bounce:

Yeah, probably Instagram and recommendations.

Alan Law:

Okay, cool. Cool. Do you have any tips for Instagram on how to? How do you get bookings on Instagram? What’s your advice?

Alison Bounce:

I’m not good in Instagram because if you want to have a lot of engagement, you have to post all the time every day and to have a good caption and everything. And I’m not a very effective for that because I don’t have time. I prefer to enjoy my life and stay very far from the network, but I post the minimum. So it’s maybe one or two a week and it’s a photo very funky with a funky caption like I don’t like waiting, but let’s do it if you really want to get married, okay, engage me. I can be here and we can have fun together. This is the kind of post I make.

Alan Law:

That’s very cool. Do you know what? I love your whole approach and how you’re doing this. You’re just being you and just doing what you want and I think it’s really inspiring. I do. I think it’s brilliant. It’s great.

Alison Bounce:

It’s maybe too crazy sometimes.

Alan Law:

No, well I think it’s brilliant honestly. I really do. It’s like a breath of fresh air to hear as well. I think it’s awesome. Okay I’m going to ask this question because I like this question. Okay. What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when I say what makes you happy?

Alison Bounce:

Oh, freedom for sure. Freedom.

Alan Law:

Okay. That’s cool. So it must have been awful for you these past two months in quarantine then.

Alison Bounce:

Yeah, to be honest, it was not easy for me because I was just coming back from Antarctica when I spent five weeks with only eight person on this very small boat with no connection, no signal so I was very cut off from the world. And when we arrived in …, we learned about the COVID and we didn’t before. When we leave the CORONA awareness was not so important so we didn’t expect it about that. And I was working … and 10 days after I have to get back in France and to stop my travel because I was supposed to travel again now at that time. I was supposed to travel now. So I came back to France and the situation was awful because we had a lot of cases and the people was very stressed by that, so it was scary and the media was scary too. You know, the information, the news was very terrible. So I stayed really eight weeks in my house.

Alan Law:

Oh. Are you with someone there or on your own?

Alison Bounce:

Yeah, with a friend. I was not alone, but I was I left France on October for my work too, so I couldn’t meet my friends since I left. So now normally this week I can see my family and my friends, but I didn’t see them since October.

Alan Law:

Wow. That is a long time as well.

Alison Bounce:

Yeah. Because of quarantine so I spend, yeah, two months only. So yeah, I did a lot of zoom.

Alan Law:

Yeah. Do you imagine if this had happened like 15 years ago without, you know, with really slow internet as well, that would have been awful.

Alison Bounce:

Oh wow. Yeah, no, I can’t imagine. Yeah, really. I can’t imagine because I’m sure people watch Netflix or YouTube. Yeah, I spent a long time in Instagram. Oh, I discover Tik-Tok as well.

Alan Law:

Oh really? I’ve heard of it but I’ve never tried it, I’m afraid. I don’t even know really know what it is. What is it in a nutshell? What is it?

Alison Bounce:

Tik-Tok is the best way to spend a good quarantine of your life for sure.

Alan Law:

Is it just small videos or something? Little videos?

Alison Bounce:

Yeah. So you have to create a new content, new post. You can post video or you can just watch the stupid video the others make. This is what I did and every day yeah, my friends are on Tik-Tok, so I was laughing at them, but mainly people made video but coronavirus during the quarantine that was so cool. Really so funny. So I laughed a lot with that so thank you people for making…really you made my day. Definitely. Thank you so much.

Alan Law:

Oh, that’s cool. That’s funny. I’ll have to check it out. I would have to check it out. Do you, by the way, do you, you’re talking about other people and seeing other people. On the weddings that you shoot, do you shoot them on your own or do you have second shooters or do you do a mix? How do you do it?

Alison Bounce:

I like to work alone because like I told you, I like the flexibility I can have. But if some friends ask me to join for them for a day as a second shooter. So I always say yes because it’s cool. We have two, we can discuss. Yeah, it’s funny, but they do what they want to do. I don’t give them any directive or anything. The only thing I ask is I want them to meet my couple before because I don’t want my couple feel themselves like uncomfortable because they don’t know my second shooter.

Alan Law:

Oh okay, that’s interesting.

Alison Bounce:

It’s not my second shooter, it’s just second shooter because, yeah. I don’t ask anything. They are here to, if they want to observe me, they observe me. If they want to get some specific photos or to train themselves, it’s okay for me if they are free, so yeah.

Alan Law:

That sounds cool. Wow. I’ve never heard of the introducing your second shooter or the person who is shooting with you to your couple beforehand. I think that’s a really nice, nice idea. Do you always do that then?

Alison Bounce:

Yeah, yeah. For me as well. I used to meet my couple maybe four or five times before the wedding because I need to know them because like I told you, I don’t like wedding and the only thing I like is the people connection, the story and why they are getting married, who’s there, why are they and everything? So for me they are like a friend, my couple and like a friend and they make me feel like a friend at the wedding. So it’s normal to introduce the second shooter or if I have an assistant, my assistant or, yeah.

https://alisonbounce.com/mariage-en-bourgogne/

Alan Law:

Oh that’s cool. That’s really cool. Cool. Alison at the time again, it’s gone so quickly. We’ve got time for just one more question. That’s okay. What do you find the most challenging, the most difficult aspect of wedding photography to be?

Alison Bounce:

It’s like I told you before, you have to be able to do everything. So you have to be good in portrait photography, in reportage, in technical because if you are for the dance floor for example, you have to manage your on off camera flashes and yeah, you have to be empathetic all the time to some people. And so it’s not just about photography actually. You have to be, yeah, like a guest… like a human. You are human, so you are a human in this specific moment and you have to capture this moment too. So yeah, it’s not just about photography. It’s not really easy. You have to be sporty because the day is really, really exhausting so you have to be in shape. It’s very mobile work actually. And you are also you own, you are running your company. So you are everything. So yeah, it’s a global work and this is not really easy to wear all of this cape.

Alan Law:

That’s so true, isn’t it? Yeah. It’s so true. There’s so much involved to be a wedding photographer, you have to do so much. The photography is almost a small part of it.

Alison Bounce:

Yep.

Alan Law:

Yeah. Oh, Alison. Oh man. Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you for your time. It’s been so honestly really inspirational talking to you. I really, really enjoyed it.

Alison Bounce:

Thank you for inviting me. Thank you for asking. Thank you for inviting me. I’m so sorry I’m French and English speaking is so hard to do.

Alan Law:

I cannot imagine doing an interview in a different language. I think you’re amazing. I have so much respect for you. I think you were brilliant. Yeah. And people listening wherever you are in the car or exercising, come to thisisreportage.com and I’ll link to Alison’s wedding work and her underwater work and show lots of examples of images including the Reportage Awards that we spoke about specifically. And yeah, just thanks so much. And hopefully I’ll get to meet you one day. That would be cool.

Alison Bounce:

I would love, yeah, I would love it. Definitely.

Alan Law:

You stay safe. Enjoy being able to go outside and thanks again, Alison.

Alison Bounce:

Thank you Alan. Take care too.

Alan Law:

Bye. Bye.

Alison Bounce:

Bye.

***********************************************************

Hope you enjoyed listening (or reading) to our Alison Bounce interview; I thought she was so interesting – inspiring!

You can see more of her wedding work on her website, here on her TiR profile, or her underwater photography here.

There are lots more episodes of our wedding photography podcast over here, too.

Interested in submitting to our Awards? Deadline for our current round is 23:59 BST on 24th May 2020. Members receive 18 Story Award and 60 Reportage Award entries per year, along with many other benefits. For full details and to join us, head over here.

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