We’re bringing you our next artist feature from the August winners of SLR Lounge Awards! These articles are meant to give the photography community insight on how our award winners created their business, grew their portfolio, and achieved excellence in the industry.
Ciprian Biclineru, an award-winning wedding photographer based in Frankfurt, Germany, entered an award-winning image into our Awards submissions, earning an Apex Award in the Wedding Portraiture category. Let’s take a glimpse into his creative process and learn what tools and ideas have inspired him along the way.
What made you decide to focus on Wedding Photography?
I have a very detailed answer to this question. Before my wedding, almost 10 years ago, I was working in the advertising department of a big company and I was just a landscape and product photographer. I had absolutely no idea what wedding photography was about and I didn’t care about it.
When we decided to get married, I was in charge of finding the right photographer, but I didn’t know what to look for in a wedding photographer.
It was really painful to find one to fit in our budget who was also good. Finally, I found one who was quite okay, and I almost sealed the deal with him when my wife gave me a call and asked me to look at some wedding photographer’s website. She had found his card in an office, so she thought, “Let’s check this out!”
I was blown away! Until then, I didn’t know that wedding photography could be so beautiful; I only thought it was something you have to have at your wedding, and that’s it. I quickly contacted him and found out that he was free for our wedding day. We paid him a visit, looked at the albums, and had a long talk until… he hit us with his price! It was 4 times more than we decided to spend for wedding photography. We left a bit disappointed, got into our car, and after a few moments of silence, we decided to take his offer. It was one of our best decisions! We were very pleased with our wedding photos and I started to really dig wedding photography.
I became friends with my wedding photographer, and I recommended him for my cousin’s wedding the following year. There, I could observe more of what and how he did everything. And then, boom, my first wedding came from a former work colleague. I tried to make her hire a professional wedding photographer, but she insisted on hiring me as her wedding photographer. So, from that day, I decided I should focus more on wedding photography.
At the beginning of your career, what is the single biggest thing you did to help get your business off the ground?
I can tell you that I had two phases when I started my wedding photography career. First, it was in Romania, my country, but there, wedding photography was like my weekend job, I was a graphic designer who sometimes shot weddings. I didn’t think that much about how to expand my business. I was doing 6-7 weddings per year and it was enough for me. I was attending wedding photography workshops, trying to educate myself, and practicing shooting and editing.
Three years ago, my wife and I decided to move to Germany in search of a better life. I didn’t think much before getting here how I would manage to succeed in Germany, and that was a big mistake. I was always thinking that when I arrived, I would send an email to all the wedding planners in the country and I would quickly get jobs. I was so wrong!
My website was only in English, and, even though I had sent more than 200 emails, I only got two answers. Even after I met face-to-face with both wedding planners, bringing albums and samples, I still got nothing. I even tried to network, maybe not that much, but it didn’t bring me anything.
I soon realized that in order to succeed in a foreign country, my website must be perfect. I started working on it, bought a German domain name, redesigned and recoded it, translated all the materials in German, and most importantly, worked at SEO. This is the most important thing that I think helped me here. And one more thing, I realized that I didn’t have a German-related portfolio. I started to photograph weddings and couples for free or almost for no money just to make a portfolio.
How did you get your first paying client?
After my first wedding, my colleague started her own business as a florist and the wedding planner she worked with saw her wedding photos and started recommending me to all of her clients.
Do you have a favorite accessory that you use to get the shot?
I actually don’t have any favorite accessory. I use sometimes a MagMod grid (I’ve got to invest more in this magnetic system), but I mostly use direct or reflected flash, or with a normal diffuser. I also have a small softbox that I sometimes use, but on a wedding day, it’s pretty hard to find time to use it.
Describe your editing workflow.
I first cull the photos in Photo Mechanic, then the selection goes in Lightroom. From there, for signature shots, I export 3 tiff versions to work with: one normal, one underexposed, and the other overexposed. The 50 best shots from the wedding then go into Photoshop. That is the hard part, editing skin, dodging and burning, color grading, etc.
How are you constantly evolving and pushing forward your style and quality?
I like to think that I’m my biggest critic. I don’t know if I have ever come home from a wedding and been completely satisfied with my work, and that’s why I try to push myself harder with every wedding. I like to go to workshops, meet and get inspiration from other photographers, and of course watch online videos – there are plenty now.
See more of Ciprian’s work on his Website & Instagram profile and view our latest SLR Lounge Award Winners here! Don’t forget to submit your images before September 30th to be considered for our September 2017 Award Winners!