Lensational Magazine: It is pleasure, Emma, to have this interview. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Emma Coubrough: I’m Emma, and I’m a lifestyle photographer based in Cheshire in the UK. I photograph babies and families, both in-home and outdoors. I’m a mum of two young children, and live with my husband and our very needywhippet. Life is very hectic and busy, but a lot of fun too, and between the kids and the dog, I’m never short of photography subjects at home (sometimes willing, sometimes bribery helps). I’ve had a camera to hand since mid-way through secondary school, but got serious about photography about four years ago.
Lensational Magazine: What inspired you to pick up a camera?
Emma Coubrough: At school and university, I was always that friend with a camera in hand to document all our silly antics and nights out. Before the Facebook days, I would load the photos onto a blog website (I must go and find it someday and take it down!) for us to all laugh over. I’ve always enjoyed capturing the simple fun moments and human connection. That interest and passion grew further when I had my first baby. I signed up to an in-depth course to properly get to grips with my camera. I’ve never looked back!
Lensational Magazine: What role has photography played in your life?
Emma Coubrough: My dad was always interested in photography as a hobby, and I would play with his cameras and try to work out how to get blurry backgrounds (which makes me laugh, thinking back). He had Nikons, which is why Nikon have me for life now – I’m too institutionalised to change!
Lensational Magazine: Is there a purpose that drives your work?
Emma Coubrough: My passion is capturing human connection and natural emotions. Documenting the little moments in our lives that may feel like boring routine, but in a few years will be fond memories. I’m a sucker for nostalgia and love reminiscing, and there are so many moments from the distant past that I wish I had more photos of (or better photos of!) to remember. At the end of the day, when we’re gone, photos are one of the most precious tangible items for our loved ones to treasure. I’m passionate about capturing that for families, and making sure that they have precious photos of them with their kids, spending natural, fun time together.
Lensational Magazine: How do you describe your photography style?
Emma Coubrough: People and connections are my passion, and I love capturing the in-between moments, when people relax and forget about the camera. When photographing my family I shoot almost exclusively candid and documentary, but with clients I take a lifestyle approach with gentle guidance. I then capture the natural moments once they relax.
Lensational Magazine: How do you personally access creative inspiration?
Emma Coubrough: I did a course on this subject a few months ago with the wonderful (and insanely talented) Lindsay Saunders. I learned to look for inspiration all around me – whether it’s a film I’ve seen, a book I’ve read, a song, a magazine cover, an artist from a different medium, food, or even just a colour. It’s all about taking an idea or a concept and putting your own spin on it. I also obviously love scrolling Instagram to look at the incredible talent on there. I know that reels are important these days, but I’m still very much about the photography on there.
Lensational Magazine: What mistakes to avoid while editing photographs?
Emma Coubrough: I avoid getting too heavy handed, and try to keep the colours as true to life as possible (with the exception of neon green grass in the height of summer!). I’m also conscious of editing my images in a timeless way, so that they’ll last beyond certain trends.
Lensational Magazine: Can you point out one thing you will never give up in your sessions?
Emma Coubrough: I will always want to capture the natural, candid moments. I love the unexpected. I’m happy to take posed shots, but it’s when someone says something silly after the shot, and everyone else laughs, that the magic really happens. That’s my true passion and what I love to see in my finished galleries.
Lensational Magazine: Tell us about post-processing. What programs are you using? Are you doing the post editing yourself?
Emma Coubrough: I do all of my editing myself. I always begin in Lightroom, where I do the vast majority of my edits, and a lot of my images get finalised in there. If needed, or if I want to get creative with overlays or extra effects, I move into Photoshop. I find Photoshop much more effective at removing blemishes or unwanted objects, and I also use it to give an extra oomph to contrast, expanding my canvases, and adding extra magic. I think that Photoshop is one of those programmes that you’ll never stop learning – there will always be a different way of doing something or a tool you haven’t tried. When I get time around life, work, and parenting, I like to watch tutorials on YouTube and add techniques to my toolkit.
Lensational Magazine: How did you approach your first shoot? And did you approach it differently than the way you would approach it now?
Emma Coubrough: I did a lot of research on websites and blogs, Pinterest and Instagram, to decide what sort of shots I was aiming for, and to plan a workflow for the session. Once in the moment, I adapted to situations and the available light, and also tried new things if the opportunity arose. Down the line, I’ve adapted my workflow according to what has worked, what images I’ve liked best, and which prompts helped families relax the most. It’s always a learning process and will never be finished, as every home is different and every family is different.
Lensational Magazine: What advice can you give our young photographer’s readers trying to succeed in the field?
Emma Coubrough: Join online photography communities or local groups in your area. Lots of them run challenges, socials, and networking events. It can be quite a lonely experience setting up your own business, so it’s important to have people who are going through similar experiences that you can talk to, bounce ideas off, and just have a chat or rant to! I have made so many friends through photography – and we lift each other up and cheer each other on.
Lensational Magazine: How do you get your clients?
Emma Coubrough: In a variety of ways – through people discovering me on social media, finding my website on Google, word of mouth, or responding to an advert or promotion.