Married for almost ten years and parents to three children, Tim and Gillian Higgins are the husband and wife duo behind the creative photography business Gather and Tides. Here, Gillian shares how she started her business, the challenges of photographing an Irish wedding and how the team capture the most memorable moments that are “genuine, real, and celebrate two people starting their lives as one.”
Tell us a bit about you and Gather and Tides:
I began photographing weddings in 2011 as Gillian Higgins Photography. In the background, Tim had been developing his own photography skills and it wasn’t long before I was asking him to come and second shoot for me.
How was the name Gather and Tides born?
We decided we weren’t doing ourselves any justice by only using my name as our work is a combined effort. Instead, we progressed to Gather and Tides in 2013 but choosing a new business name proved to be extremely difficult and we were determined to avoid anything cheesy. We wanted to use words that show a side of each of us and I chose ‘Gather’ as I love being surrounded by friends, in a community with people that live around us. Tim is a surfer and we both adore the coast (especially our beautiful north coast) so ‘Tides’ was an obvious one. We then joined them together and voila! It only hit us afterward that we’d also used our initials (G&T) so that was a bonus.
Were both of you interested in pursuing a career in photography or was it more or less something you fell into?
To be completely honest, our photography career was very much unintentional. I had been working as a physiotherapist for a number of years and had never really enjoyed it. I took up photography as a hobby when I had my first baby and bought my first camera. I studied my manual and looked up anything I didn’t know online. Tim has always had an artistic streak and so has a great eye for photography – I taught him the ins and outs of the camera and then he just took off. Tim has continued to work as a Social Worker and really enjoys it, so I look after all the admin and editing.
As a team, how do you approach photographing a wedding?
Being married, we work really well together. It’s amazing what we can communicate to each other from opposite sides of a church with one small look. On wedding days, Tim starts off with the groom and I’m with the bride. Then we join forces for the ceremony and take it from there. Our style is very much ‘fly on the wall,’ so we often just do our own thing with the odd glance to each other to make sure we aren’t both shooting the same thing.
Where do you look to for inspiration when photographing a wedding or anything else?
Our first thought for inspiration is to find beauty in creation and we love being in the middle of nowhere. We are also convinced there is beauty in everything if you look hard enough. Really, what’s most important to us when we photograph a wedding is that we capture the individuality of the two souls that are in front of our lenses. We want to make images that are genuine, real, and celebrate two people starting their lives as one.
What tips do you have for brides when it comes to choosing their photographer?
It is so important that you have a connection with your photographer. They need to be like a good mate as they’ll be by your side more than anyone else that day. Often, you can get a good feel for the photographer from their ‘about’ section on their website, a chat on the phone, or a few emails, even from how they are on social media. Try and find out a bit about them before you book.
Do you have any tips for brides and grooms about getting comfortable being in front of the camera?
Engagement sessions are a big help, like a practice run. But sometimes this isn’t an option so don’t panic! As with a lot of documentary photographers these days, the photography is very unobtrusive, so the best thing you can do is just forget the camera is there and RELAX!
What’s one of the most difficult challenges you’ve faced when photographing for a wedding?
Based in Ireland, it’s fair enough to say we aren’t famous for our glorious weather. We’ve had to shoot in a lot of extremely bad weather and that definitely makes things tricky at times. Wind is sometimes the hardest! However, we’ve often found that it’s these times that we are pushed creatively and we often come out with some of our best work. We have some images that we are super proud of that we’ve taken in the middle of gales and snowstorms.’
Out of all the weddings you’ve photographed, which one has stood out and surprised you?
We shot a fantastic wedding a few summers ago on a cliff top on the North Coast, about 15 minutes from where we live. The couple had come over with their families from the USA and the night before the wedding they still hadn’t decided where the ceremony was going to be! It was all very relaxed. In the end, the weather behaved (for once) and the cliff top ceremony was a huge success. It was one of those pinch yourself moments.
Why is a good photographer one of the most important parts of the wedding day?
We often tell couples that we see wedding photography as an investment. They are investing in pieces of art, family heirlooms for years to come and as cheesy as it sounds, one of the most memorable days of their lives. And on a day when their heads are spinning with emotion and excitement, it’s often hard to remember what happened. That’s why we place such an importance on having it documented, correctly. A great documentary photographer will capture all the right moments, all the small moments, and will beautifully tell the story of your day.”