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Destination Wedding Photographer

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In today’s interview, we catch up with the talented destination wedding photographer Isabel Benchetrit, who impresses with the intense mix of emotions, intimacy and honesty in her work.

How did last year’s wedding season go?

I had an amazing year, with so many wonderful couples. I was able to try out new techniques and be more creative. 

What were your 2019 highlights?

I celebrated 10 years of being a wedding photographer. When I look back at 2009, when I started, my work has come so far. All the couples I have met along the way have helped me to become the photographer I am today, and I finished the year feeling very proud of myself and very grateful to each and every one for giving me this opportunity. My highlight was definitely finishing on such a high and knowing that 2020 is going to be even better. I am feeling so excited to start the wedding season.

Which are your favourite venues and why?

Hacienda San Jose is definitely one of my favourite venues. It has so many amazing locations to create stunning photographs with a Spanish Mediterranean look.

Tikitano is perfect for sunset photos next to the ocean. The sun sets over the mountains, creating the perfect opportunity for silhouettes and as dusk arrives the colours in the sky change to such intense pinks and reds, giving great opportunities for memorable photographs.

Villa Cisne has a real wow factor. Beautiful grounds right on the seafront. I love the combination of a villa wedding and a beach wedding.

If you want a fairytale wedding you can’t go wrong with the Castillo Santa Catalina. Getting married in a castle in the heart of Malaga, how amazing is that?

Did you do or try anything different last year?

Yes ?” I feel it is important to keep innovating and to keep evolving, so I tried different techniques and I’m so happy with the results. I’m going to keep using these techniques this year, improve on them and try new ones too.

Can you pick your top five photos from 2019 and explain why?

I find picking five so hard. As I’ve said, Hacienda San Jose really gives you that wonderful Spanish feel and this photograph is one of my favourites from there – although there are many favourites from HSJ.

I’ve been working more on doing couple portraits at night. This was the first wedding where I tried this technique. I absolutely loved the results. I showed the image on the back of the camera to the couple and they were instantly in love with the image.

I always try to do a quick portrait session with the bride before the ceremony. I do talk this through with my couples as it is something I think it is very important to do. The bride will have spent so much time and money on hair and makeup, which is why I like to take the bridal closeups before she even steps outside. It can occasionally be very windy on the coast and it is nearly always extremely hot. Your hair can move, your makeup may fade, so it’s important to capture those photos before the ceremony. I do a few different styles, some close up and some to show off the dress. This is an example of the type of photograph I love doing just before the ceremony.

I don’t always get a chance to stay long after the first dance, so I don’t have a lot of time to photograph the couples’ evening entertainment, but on this occasion I was able to experiment with the sax player. The result is one of my favourite images.

Natural photos are very important, as they depict the day as it really happened and I love to capture those amazing moments. Here are two of my favourites for this. This is the bride having a great time during speeches. I always say that speeches are a great opportunity to photograph the couple and their guests laughing and having a good time.

In this image the bride is getting emotional as she sees the man of her dreams waiting for her. I absolutely adore this photograph. The bride started crying while walking down the aisle and her lovely groom wiped her tears off her face. These, €in the moment’ photographs are so important.

What do you like about living on the Costa del Sol?

As a wedding photographer, I love all the different wedding venues we have available. There are so many great places from right on the beach to castles in the mountains. The possibilities are pretty much endless which makes my work so exciting. The weather here is just unbeatable. This is February and I’m sitting in my garden in a t-shirt with a cloudless blue sky above me.

I’m a great foodie, I love to cook and I love to eat. The food and ingredients you find here are second to none. I also love to grow my own fruit and vegetables, which is very easy here. The people here on the coast are so welcoming and so nice. I chat with strangers all the time and have made a lot of friends here.

Do you have any funny stories from weddings in 2019?

Well I did have a bit of a dyslexic moment at one wedding. My normal package is eight hours and I usually start two hours before the ceremony, photographing the getting-ready moments. So I calculate that if I start at 3 pm I finish at 11 ?” pretty simple. For weeks before this wedding I had in my head that I was finishing at 1am but starting at 3pm and doing eight hours. Hmm. The venue was quite far away and I had told my boyfriend that I wouldn’t be home till 3 am. So I’m at the wedding, I start at 3 pm, all is going very well. Beautiful wedding, gorgeous couple. The evening party begins, there’s a DJ and a sax player. Normally I don’t get to see much of the evening party as they tend to start when I’m leaving. I normally have just a few minutes to quickly get some photos of them before I finish for the night. It’s now midnight and I’ve taken some great shots of the sax player and the DJ as well as the party. I start talking to the DJ who’s telling me how great it is to have the photographer around at this time as they are normally gone by now. He asks me what time I started. I tell him 3 pm. He asks, €How long did they book you for?’ I replied eight hours. €Issy,’ he said. €You were done by 11pm!’

So I’m there counting on my fingers, as apparently I can’t add three and eight. Anyway, I got some great photographs I would have never have gotten if I hadn’t stayed longer!

Do you have a favourite moment from 2019?

I’ve had some very memorable moments, many of them during the ceremony. I’m so glad I have a big camera to hide behind, as I’m not ashamed to say that some ceremonies have brought me to tears.

What trends did you notice?

I’ve been noticing the use of more and more fairy lights which I think is great. It makes such a difference for the evening when everything is lit up so beautifully. Definitely a trend that needs to keep on going. A trend I’d like to see more is less use of single-use plastic. I know it’s very hard but it is possible. I have noticed many venues now not using plastic straws, for example, which is great.

What will you do differently next year?

I have more ideas up my sleeve that I really want to try out this year as well as perfecting the techniques I tried last year. So watch this space!

What are you looking forward to in the 2020 wedding season?

Once again, I have amazing couples this year, and I really can’t wait to be a part of their day. I’m looking forward to all the new venues where I have been booked, and at being given the possibility to be creative and deliver photographs my couples will cherish forever.