Q&A with Shelly Mantovani, from Toast of Leeds Photography

Today I am very happy to bring you a Q&A with the very talented Shelly from Toast of Leeds. Shelly is a fab photographer who I have been twitter friends with now for quite some time, but finally got to meet her last month when we had a long lunch up in Leeds. Shelly brings with her years of experience and an eye for the quirky and unusual. Shelly has written as a Guest blogger for me before, which you can read HERE and has had her work featured HERE and HERE.

I’m also very excited as I’m doing a photo shoot with Shelly on Monday, after she asked if I would model for her (still a little unsure why she asked me! but very excited all the same) We are doing a 60s inspired photo shoot, which is going to be very British….and no doubt in this weather very very cold!! The shoot is tacking place at Hargate Hall. I can’t wait to do it and hopefully show you some of the results once it is done.

Name and company name:
Shelly Mantovani, from Toast of Leeds

Your wedding is unique – just like you, so why should your photos be any different?

alternative wedding photography

How long have you been taking photos for?
My love of photography started quite by accident, back in 1989 when I was working in a press office and the resident photog slipped a disc and I was forced into learning how to use an slr, develop and print in the space of a day. Thank fully I was a young whipper snapper with no idea that it would be turning point or in fact, that that kind of thing wasn’t the norm. The photographer, Professor Michael J Cooper, gave me a little Pentax and a dozen rolls of film and the rest as they say, is history. Prof, if you’re out there, I’d like to thank you from the bottom of my camera bag!

How would you describe your style?
No idea. Some would say it has a hint of whimsicalness about it, sometimes it’s a little bit grungy, sometimes a little bit edgy and dark – which seems a weird thing for a wedding photographer to claim for but then not everyone wants a super white wedding. I think my style changes with the mood of the wedding. If the vibe suits something stylish and super sleek, then I adapt my style slightly to fit in. If it’s vintage, I’ll do likewise. It all seems to happen quite organically and quite by itself and I don’t really think about it too much.

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What made you get into wedding photography?
A friend asked me to shoot her wedding many many many moons ago and for some reason I said yes. I was young and impulsive and I figured there would be a free bar. There wasn’t. However, it kinda spiraled from there although I stopped for a while and went to work in journalism but returned with the advent of digital.

Where are you based?
I’m Leeds based but that doesn’t stop me wandering off to shoot a wedding somewhere else.

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How far will you travel for a wedding?
As far as the client will let me! I’d love to do a wedding in Iceland – but then that’s because I believe in Santa and all things Christmassy!

How long do you normally spend at a wedding?
Because I realize that not everyone has the biggest budget in the world, I have two packages – a six hour and a 12 hour. Six hours will cover the basics and the 12 hour package is absolutely everything plus a photo booth and props so that guests can have a bit of fun in front of the camera after they’ve had one or two lemonades!

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What is your favorite bit of technical kit?
I love my prime lenses.

What is it about wedding photography that you love?
It has to be the people. I love photographing the human form and we have so many different emotions that it’s just a pleasure to be able to document such a happy event. But also the sense of satisfaction from delivering a hard copy of the couple’s memories. Once the confetti has been thrown and the initial euphoria has been and gone, it’s so nice to be able to look back at the images with my couples and re-live all the fun again.

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What sort of couple would be your ideal couple to photograph?
Couples who are happy in themselves and know what they want. I love a quirky couple too – the quirkier the better.

What celeb would you like to photograph?
Oooh now that’s a good question. I would probably narrow it down to Thom Yorke of Radiohead and Win Butler from Arcade Fire. Not so much celebs as incredible musicians. I’ve shot a few bands before and the passion you see when they’re performing is just so powerful, that I’d loveto be able to follow them around with a nice prime lens not just on the stage but in quieter moments. Win if you’re listening, give me a call in December when you’re touring the UK! Heh heh I’m off to Glastonbury next year and although I’d love to drag round my camera to shoot some cool Glasto craziness, I figure I’d also like to have a bit of pear cider and dance around in the mud.

Who is your favorite photographer and why?
Crikey, well it changes constantly. Kirsty Mitchell I love – I’m not sure whether it’s just her amazing images or the fact that she documents her feelings with it all too. As for wedding photographers, I’d go for Jonas Peterson, Feather Love and Our Labor of Love. Ask me next week, it will probably have changed.

If you were to get married who would take your pictures / Who did take the pictures at your wedding.
I’m not married. I don’t plan on it – how could I? I’d never be able to make a decision on the style, who’d photograph it or what I’d wear. I’d be in the planning process for a decade!

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What are you plans for the next 2 years?
I plan to stop working every night of the week and have some time off. How I’m going to do that, I have absolutely no idea, but a girl can dream…

What in your opinion makes the perfect photo?
Light and emotion. If you’ve got those two, everything else pales into insignificance.

What is your biggest achievement so far within your photography?
Being true to my own style and not following the herd. Also, I’ve been on Rock n Roll Bride! YAY!

What sort of other photography do you do apart from weddings?
I dabble with a little commercial photography but weddings are my passion.

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What advice would you give couples when choosing their wedding photographer?
Find someone you click with. If you feel like you want to share a beer with them down the pub, that’s the photographer for you. Make sure you are completely comfortable with them poking their big lenses in your face otherwise they’ll rub you up the wrong way and it’ll show in the pictures.

What is your favorite photo that you have taken?
Well that changes quite a lot too. I guess the most recent fave would be a picture from the punk wedding I did at Kirkstall Abbey of the groom walking down the aisle with his top hat and cane in the dry ice and theatrical lighting. That one kinda rocked.

Rock and Roll wedding photography

Tell us something about yourself that we may not know, non work related.
I’m a coffee snob. I have a nervous breakdown if the coffee beans aren’t the right kind and turn my nose up at coffee without a decent crema on top. I know, I know, I need to get out more.

what do you really love?
Oooh. I love so many things. Light, shadow, art, music, film, books, design, my iphone, my mac, and my family who put with up my creative idiosyncrasies (whilst possibly rolling their eyes at every little one of my crazy ideas).

And what do you really hate?
I’m not sure I hate much to be honest apart from terrible instant coffee!

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Come back on Friday as I have a gorgeous engagement shoot from Shelly to share with you.

For more information on Shelly’s photography services go to:
Toast Blog
Toast on TWITTER
[email protected]
0113 3560157

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