She loves Wednesdays and we love her! CPC 2015 will be hosting a plethora of incredible talent including Len from I love Wednesdays! I got the chance to chat with Len about her life in Australia, her business and topic for CPC and some sillyness!
Where is Home?
Home is Sydney, Australia.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to do something creative; photography was my dream. But, I also wanted to be a ninja for a while, and being a photographer in my head was almost as likely as being a ninja. Here we are today, and what I do could be described as being a photo ninja. So, I’m kinda happy.
What does a typical weekday consist of for you?
Routine is so important for creativity. I try to write down 1-2 pages in my journal every morning. It’s usually thoughts about what I want to do with the business/personal projects, or just random thoughts to help clear my mind. Then, it usually revolves around culling/editing/designing until I call it a day (that part changes depending on the craziness of wedding season!).
What is your absolute favourite thing in the world apart from photography?
I feel weird saying eating, but I really do love to eat good food. I would happily plan my days around where I’m going to eat next. The eating goes along well with travel, though. Most of our trips are planned around food!
How did you get into photography?
My first job out of uni was working as a designer for a wedding photographer. It wasn’t to last long, but I learned a lot about what I did & didn’t want to do. Weddings were definitely one of the things that I didn’t want, at least initially. I thought they had to be super traditional and heavily posed, and it wasn’t until shooting a friend of a friend’s wedding & discovering a little Flickr group that I realised they could be much more photojournalistic and relaxed — more about the couple & their experience.
Why weddings? What do you love the most about them and alternatively what do you find challenging about them?
I really enjoy the storytelling aspect of wedding photography & getting to do many different types of photography in the one day. There’s photojournalism, still life, lifestyle, portraits — just everything all crammed into one high-pressure day.
We would love to know the story behind your business name, how did you come up with something so awesome and unique?
My first job (that one working as a designer) wasn’t that awesome, but Wednesdays were always a day I looked forward to. The middle of the week meant the weekend was getting nearer! We did a Margarita Wednesday, which made Wednesdays even more awesome. I Love Wednesdays just kind of stuck in my head, and I thought that was a better name for a business than my given name. Milena Dekic doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue!
What is your current favourite photo and why?
I don’t know that I have a favourite photo. I have many favourites; they’re usually documentary, and a lot of the times are just photos that guide me to the next stage. One of my favourite photos is from my first full season shooting. It’s an image of the bride, her mum, & dad all crying in one frame. I remember seeing her parents’ faces and just the sheer happiness overwhelming them, and I was completely in the wrong position to get the image. It would’ve been side on. As nimbly as I could, I ran and jumped onto the table while holding on to a lamp to get the layers of all of them together. I don’t know whether it’s technically the best photo, but I remember looking at the back of my camera and thinking… “yeah, this is totally what I want to do.” It was all about that layered emotional connection, and ever since then I’ve loved the quieter photojournalistic images more than anything else.
Who and what inspires your beautiful work?
Connections. I think that’s what I love to do at it’s very most basic (granted, I like to document it in pretty light). I have some amazing friends who are definite inspirations work wise, Brittany Esther & Nessa K are two friends whose work I love, and who I talk to a lot about business, photography, and life in general.
The polaroid section of your website is stunning, tell us a little bit about why you got into shooting polaroid and why you love it?
Polaroids and film hold a special place in my heart. I learned photography in a B&W darkroom, and developing my first image was wondrous. It really feels like it was like yesterday. I remember every detail and smell and seeing my photo appear as if by magic on the paper. There’s something about the world of film. And, I feel that with Polaroid, you’re holding in your hand a series of intangible moments.
Your travel section of your website is also amazing! What is your travel bucket list currently looking like?
If there was a way for me to travel at least half of every year, I would be a happy lass. I think my bucket list is pretty much the whole world; I’d love for my passport to be absolutely covered with stamps. I would really like to go back to Serbia soon, though, & visit some friends/family and also just go through and find all the photos at my grandparents house… and then while I’m there, may as well travel all around Europe. I’d love to do a 3 month trip, just traveling and shooting. Hopefully next year!
What is the best piece of business advice you have been given?
There are so many! “Only show what you want to shoot” is probably one that helped me a lot right when I was starting out. I didn’t have much in the way of weddings, but whatever I shot that I loved I would blog. A lot of couples that booked me in the beginning did so more because of my travel photos than my wedding photos, and it set the tone for the business that I wanted to have. Another is that you can’t shoot 1000 weddings/year, so don’t try to appeal to 1000s of people, try and carve out a little niche for yourself.
Have you ever attended CPC?
Yup, I have indeed. I went in 2013, and had an absolute ball meeting everyone, and cried my eyes out meeting so many photographer friends I’d only known online.
Tell us about your topic.
My topic is about mental health & running a small business. I have pretty severe anxiety, and I’ve seen anxiety & depression take their toll on quite a few photographers’ businesses here. It’s something no one ever talks about until it’s much too late. So, I’m hoping by creating a dialogue and talking through everything that has helped me, that it’ll help & empower others to talk through things and to know there are support systems out there. I’ve been a little bit more vocal talking about it in my local photography community, and that has been great. There are so many people going through the same thing, and it’s wonderful to be able to learn what works for everyone and just share the ideas & knowledge about dealing with it all.
Tell us about why you have chosen to teach other photographers.
I’ve always loved teaching, and I try to give back wherever I can, so it’s just a natural extension of all that. I taught photography at a local university here in Sydney and that was an amazing experience seeing (I’m going to call them kids, ‘cause they were young’uns) all those kids just learn so much and grow as creatives was wonderful.
If a movie was made about your life what actress would play you and why?
I think it would definitely have to be Miranda July. She’s a kook, and we kind of bear a passing resemblance.
What is one thing in life you have avoided out of fear? Will you ever do this thing?
Oh, gosh. I know I’ve definitely avoided or not done things out of fear, they’re weirdly usually small things. I’m going skydiving in July, which has always been both an extreme fear and on my wish list for years. I’ve kind of avoided it, but it’s being booked and I’m going to throw myself out of a plane and hope to land safely!
What is the strangest thing you have ever eaten?
To be honest, I’m not sure… alligator or horse would probably be up there, although both were tasty. Durian is something I wouldn’t eat again, the smell is just… interesting…
If you were to join the circus, what would you perform?
I can’t say I’ve ever really thought about it. Maybe trapeze — swinging through the air sounds like fun!
Finally, what is one random thing that most people don’t know about you?
I speak fluent Serbian. And, I didn’t try Coco Pops until I was about 25 (at which point I went crazy with them).
To see more of I love Wednesdays work, check out her website here!
Interview by Jennifer Moher