From my interview with Andrew Doyle at Limerick Today
How long have you lived in Limerick and what was it that made you decide to come here from Norway?
I took the long way around from Norway to Limerick, the one that took about 17 years (LOL) and went via Australia (where I meet Shane) through South-East Asia, with a few stop-off’s around Europe including 1 &1/2 year in Dublin & 13 years in London. We have lived in Castleconnell for just over 6 years, but my Irish connection is well over 20 years. – It’s kind of scary when I start adding up the years, how quickly they seem to fly buy (LOL). While in London we always knew we where eventually moving back to Ireland so when the time came the choice was between Dublin or Limerick. For us it was time to get aways form the big city & traffic jams so Shane re-located form The Irish Embassy in London to The Foreign Affairs office in Henry Street. I am loving living in Castleconnell, it feels like home, much more than Norway.
For someone who has never been to Norway, can you describe the main differences between were you are from and Limerick?
The scenery in Norway is breathtaking & I miss the great outdoors with the snow-capped mountains & deep fjords. I am from a fishing town called Ålesund (62º North) right out in the North Sea. There’s nothing like climbing to the highest mountain, taking in a 360º panoramic view with aeroplanes coming in below you. Living conditions in Norway is, as I think everyone knows, one of the best in Europe. Universal social welfare includes 18 months maternity & paternity leave and a whole host of other benefits, especially geared towards children & adolescent. Norway is also much more open concerning religious & spiritual beliefs & I do like the way churches are used for jazz and other concert (LOL). BUT the Irish people is much more open hearted, more caring of each other, more laid back (in a good sense) & not as worried about “keeping up with the Jonses”. When I visit Norway I sill go around saying hi to random people I meet, but without getting the same smiles & hello’s & sometimes long chats, as is the norm in Castleconnell, so I’m always hapy to come home to Castleconnell. I think I’m probably Irish by heart. One of the viking descendants who made it back to Norway maybe. (LOL)
How long have you been a professional photographer and has this always been your career?
My photographer journey started when I was a child with a Kodak10 & magic cube flashes, (LOL) do you remember them? Photography was also part of my degree course and I was always taking photos, but the inspiration for WonderWorks, came with Ruby. I was looking for professional photographers in London who would sell me a package that included the photographs on a CD, so i could make my own prints, but it simply wasn’t available. I knew our families would want copies of the photos but when I added the cost of the prints from the photographers together it just pushed the boat out too far. I really wanted to do something about
Before Ruby came along, I worked in the internet Industry, but it was always a dream to have my own company. Turning my photography hobby into a living then, happened in Castleconnell. It was the perfect solution for us, I work form home and get to spend time with Ruby after school then I go back in the studio in the evenings.
I am absolutely delighted with the success of WonderWorks & so proud of being able of offer the service to my clients, that I really wanted myself.
Was it difficult establishing a career in Limerick and what were the biggest challenges to getting established?
Not at all. Now I did start out the trial & error way. I just wanted to get going & see could I make it work. I went against all business advice, yes I did do a ‘Business Start-up course’ with the Limerick Enterprise Board, which I highly recommend, but I only picked the bits I wanted from it. I’ve written many business plans in previous jobs but I didn’t think WonderWorks really need one (LOL) – I just did it my way, the way that felt right. I didn’t charge much at all the first 12 months and I kinda trained myself on the job, apparently a big no no if you read the books or listen to the advice LOL.
I had two big challenges, first carving out time to work, but as the jobs came in that took care of itself. Then I went and lost the photos of 8 shoots, in the middle of my first Communion season. Getting through that was what ultimately turned me a professional photographer. Looking back it was the “disaster” I needed to fully commit to do this with my whole heart.
Do you ever get nervous in front of the camera yourself?
Under most circumstances I love being in front of the camera & I encourage Shane & Ruby, to pick up the camera so I can see the world through their lens. To me it’s a real treat to be photographed by a professional photographer. My current profile photo was shoot by Eva Birdthisle, who specialise in photographing women. I had the most incredible fun in front of her lens & I am really happy with the result. I work with many professional women on their brand and profile photography, and it really is important to your business to get this done professionally.
BUT I got very nervous when I shoot the photographs for my DIVA art exhibition. Mind you I was naked (LOL) & it’s hard to be both the model & the art director, I was very grateful to my courageous friend Lynda, who took over the camera for me.
What would you say is the favourite subject of yours to photograph?
Babies from 4 months & kids of every age, as long as I can see the kid in my models I am in love, even with the father of the bride (LOL). I just love to play and have fun and to connect with my models exactly where that are in their life.
I do much of my work on the floor & crawling around making animal & fart noises to get great big smiles & giggles delights my soul. I never rush a private photo shoot, in fact I’m probably queen of patience.
What type of booking is the most challenging for you: weddings, communions, baby portraits etc?
Brand new parents with their first born is exceptionally special especially with all the ‘new age’ Irish dad’s around – I just love the way they are completely and utterly in love with their little bundle of joy. Fast forward two years when they come back with a brand new Prince or Princess & the little toddler, that’s when I get truly challenged. To manage the timing for baby fussing & feeding and entertaining a toddler and heaping their attention long enough to get great shots of the two of theme together as well as all the other 40 fabulous shoots I’m always looking for – let’s just say, it’s great fun but it might end in tears LOL.
Do you gave any particularly memorable clients and what made them so memorable?
Many of my client’s come back time and time again and I love that, because we truly get a chance to know each other very well, much more deeply than just model & photographer, this keeps them on the surface of my memory and I could tell you many stories about them. But I will pick someone else. A newly divorced family with mum and her 5 fabulous kids. I remember them because they where all so funky & cool and we had so much fun together. There was fits of laughter but also Mum’s tears the moment she felt in her heart she was truly connecting with her kids and being proud of who she is, for herself and being mum, despite all the struggles that laid behind them.
When I capture that connection for my models, my heart sings and my job is very well done and I might shed a tear of joy when I edit too.
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