Q&A compiled by LIZAR VAN REENEN
At school she was named the “girl with the camera”. Today, Christine Meintjes is the most talked about wedding photographer. Some even call her South Africa’s wedding legend. Many a bridal couple that have had the pleasure of being photographed by Christine, said that what was most evident, was her true passion for her job. On her website, Christine quotes, “If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life”. Let’s find out a bit more about the person behind that statement (and the camera).
I BELIEVE YOU WERE NEVER A TYPICAL TEENAGER, DOING TYPICAL TEENAGER “STUFF” IN HIGH SCHOOL. TELL US ABOUT YOUR HIGH SCHOOL EXPERIENCE? My sister once told me I was born old simply because I was quite a serious and ambitious person. At that stage I just laughed at her statement but looking back now, I’ve come to realize that I wasn’t a typical teenager. During my primary school years, I’ve started a few small businesses with my sister – from selling cakes, to making gift cards.
At the age of fourteen, I started assisting a local wedding photographer and that was the start to my photography career today. While most of my friends were waiters at local restaurants to earn a little extra pocket money, I had the opportunity to work at weddings. I simply loved being around brides, the interaction between people and at the same time learning so much about the wedding industry. I didn’t know much about photography at that stage, but I’ve learnt through the years to come. At the age of 16, I started doing photo shoots for other people, including my first two weddings.
YOU WANTED TO BECOME A DESIGNER AFTER STUDYING BA VISUAL COMMUNICATIONS AT STELLENBOSCH UNIVERSITY. WHAT CHANGED YOUR MIND? I decided to study Visual Communications because the idea of a creative career intrigued me. I’ve always wanted to pursue a career in something that I was passionate about. At first, I thought working for an advertising agency or magazine would be great knowing that at some point I would include photography. However, during my studies I started getting a bit frustrated as the photography side of the course wasn’t at all what I imagined it to be thus I kept doing my photography on the side.
After studying and keeping my photography going as a sideline business, the idea of working for an agency became less and less attractive. And that’s when I decided to “jump into it” and start my photography business full time.
WHY CHOOSE A CAREER IN WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY IN PARTICULAR? Weddings are such happy environments and to be part of a couple’s most memorable day, is a huge privilege. It also gives me the opportunity to travel all around the world and meet people (my clients) from total different industries. Being able to hang out with great individuals, see amazing places, plus capturing images that tell their stories, makes for a great day ‘in the office’.
I’VE NEVER HEARD OF THE TERM DESTINATION WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER. WHAT DOES IT MEAN? My clients find my work, either through word of mouth or the Internet and want me to come to their ‘wedding destination’ to shoot their wedding. In a nutshell, I travel to different destinations to shoot weddings. I have had the privilege to shoot weddings all over South Africa, some in Angola, Mozambique, Thailand, Holland, Germany, Spain and Sweden. Next year, I’m shooting a wedding in Aruba in the Caribbean Islands…which I’m really, really excited about!
THE COST OF YOUR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY PACKAGE STARTS AT R30 000 AND DESTINATION WEDDING SHOOTS STARTING AT 6000 USS. HOW DO YOU JUSTIFY YOUR COST? Everything I’ve done since starting my business has contributed to providing a professional, valuable, worth while experience for my clients. Regardless of the price I charge, I want my clients to leave, thinking they got more than what they’ve paid for.
DO YOU MAKE USE OF ASSISTANTS ON YOUR SHOOTS ABROAD? IF YES, HOW MANY AND WHAT IS THEIR JOB DESCRIPTION? Yes I do. My husband, Iaan helps and second shoots with me on destination weddings. Recently I’ve employed a second assistant, who helps at local weddings. They help carry my equipment and also takes photographs from different angles, all to tell a better story.
IF YOU COULD CHOOSE ONLY ONE LENS, WHICH ONE WILL IT BE? I would choose the Nikon 50mm 1.4 lens. I love it because of its amazing depth of field and it’s extremely versatile.
BESIDES BEING A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER, YOU ALSO OFFER WORKSHOPS LOCALLY AND ABROAD, ONE-ON-ONE SESSIONS IN PERSON AND VIA SKYPE. ARE YOU MERELY INSANELY GREAT AT TIME MANAGEMENT OR HAVE YOU SUCCESSFULLY MANAGED TO CLONE YOURSELF? LOL!!! I like to believe that I’m really good at fitting in as much as possible into each day but the truth is, I have a team who helps me daily. I have a full-time editor helping with editing and a full-time PA, who manages all my e-mails, bookings, invoicing and travel arrangements. I really love teaching other photographers and therefore I try to fit in a few one-on-one sessions every week as well as a few workshops per year.
YOU WERE BORN AND BRED IN STELLENBOSCH AND CURRENTLY RESIDE IN SOMERSET WEST. AS A SEASONED TRAVELLER AND INTERNATIONALLY RENOWNED WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER, WHY NOT SEEK GREENER PASTURES ELSEWHERE? I truly love South Africa and call this home. We have the most gorgeous scenery around us, as well as the most amazing service providers in the wedding industry. I don’t really see myself living abroad anytime soon – unless a really big opportunity comes my way.
VIEW MORE OF CHRISTINE’S WORK AT www.christinemeintjes.com