“My approach is to follow the story. If I can learn about what’s important to my couple, and follow that narrative, then I’ll almost always be in the right place to capture those special moments.”– Sam from August & Vine shares a wildly romantic story of her journey in the wedding industry. With a genuine passion for capturing the most intimate and special connection amongst loved ones and preserving these moments through photographs. August & Vine have a warm sentimental ethos with an unparalleled attention to detail. We adore the way she captures magical candid moments and soulful intimacy in dreamy lightening.
Firstly, tell us about August & Vine and how it came to be…
August & Vine is about capturing the beauty in life. The simple things are also the most extraordinary things.
I was a commercial photographer first and to be honest, I always said I would never be a wedding photographer. But a client twisted my arm over some gin cocktails to capture their wedding and I caved. The result was the beginning of my love story with weddings (and gin cocktails) and the birth of August & Vine, and I’ve officially been obsessed ever since.
Where about are you based?
I’m based in the beautiful town of Martinborough in the Wairarapa, surrounded by wine and the NZ countryside (it’s a tough gig). I was born and raised in Auckland, so I also have a strong community up there and I lived overseas for many years so love heading back whenever I can. So whilst I’m a city girl based in the country, I’m definitely a nomad at heart.
What first sparked your interest in photography and how did this lead to involvement in the wedding industry?
I started taking photos when I was really young. For me it was about capturing moments in time and being able to hold on to visual representations of those memories. I’ve always focussed on the story as I want an image that shows me how that moment felt. I’ve also travelled a lot and photography helped me discover a deeper connection with places. I guess weddings were a natural progression due to the combination of my love for people, food, fashion and music but above all, they allow me to focus on the beauty of connection in life.
When do you feel most inspired creatively?
So many things inspire me! But what inspires me on a wedding day is always love.
You have a fabulous eye for lighting and gorgeous outdoor portrait locations. Is there a type of photography you feel best represents your style?
A combination of lifestyle and editorial would best represent my style. I’m all for those natural moments but they are also always curated through my eye which tends to hone in on the beauty of the moment and the light with a refined elegance. The magic is always in the emotion, the story and the light.
What has been your most memorable moment documenting weddings?
There have been so many, from tear-inducing Haka to mind blowing gestures but this past season, capturing the emotional reunions and heart-breaking separations due to travel restrictions will always be memorable. One moment that will stay with me was recent. My amazing Dad passed away in May after a fall. A couple of weeks prior whilst he was in hospital, I was capturing a bride getting ready and her Dad came in. I was in the corner of the room and thankfully they forgot I was there and I was able to witness the most beautiful and heartfelt father-daughter moment. I felt so privileged to document such a special exchange of emotions, but it also made me think of my wonderful connection with my Dad, and I knew at that second that he wouldn’t be able to be there for any more precious moments in my life. It was heart warming and absolutely heart-breaking at the same time. It’s those moments I feel so honoured and grateful to be able to witness.
How have you navigated the current wedding climate and what have been your key learnings in business during this time?
Pivot!! (Always said with a Ross Geller voice). It certainly has been a roller coaster for couples and vendors (and everyone) lately. But I’d like to think it’s given us a stronger resilience. I’ve learnt to totally let go of ALL expectations and just focus on solutions, and change things up! Surrounding myself with those who inspire and support is also powerful especially during these times. Stick with the magic makers, not the takers, and never lower your vibe to find your tribe.
How do you approach a large wedding with many special moments to capture? Do you have a plan of how you approach a shoot day?
I find it’s best to lay a plan first, and then break the rules! You’ve always got to be prepared for things to change on the day and just roll with it, but I also need to have a base schedule to follow. My approach is to follow the story. If I can learn about what’s important to my couple, and follow that narrative, then I’ll almost always be in the right place to capture those special moments.
What makes for a great wedding album?
Storytelling. I love to weave the story of the couple’s day with little moments, images that express what it felt like to be there – the weather, what they chose to surround themselves with, and the emotions of everyone experiencing their day. I look at albums as a story book, with a beginning, middle and end, not just made up of beautiful portraits, but of why their day was unique.
What is your advice for couples who are feeling unsure about being in front of the lens?
Most of us feel the same! But try not to think about being photographed at all, and trust. You’ve chosen your photographer for a reason, so trust them to do what they do. I always tell my couples that it’s a celebration, not a performance, so if they’re happy to just let go and enjoy each other and the party they’ve created for their day, then I’ll do what I do, and we can create magic together.
Do you have any advice for couples wanting to have 2 wedding photographers? Is there a photographer you love to work alongside?
I’m really happy covering weddings on my own, but I always welcome the chance to have another team member! If there are certain parts of a couple’s day that need extra coverage or it’s a large wedding it’s a really good idea to have two photographers. It also means more candid photos of cocktail hour for example when we may be off creating magic for the couple portraits. My advice is to chat with your photographer. Check if they work with seconds often. I work with a small group of seconds who are amazing photographers. I have chosen to work with them, either because they have a similar aesthetic to their work, or they are great with creative direction. One of my favourite photographers that I have worked alongside doesn’t offer weddings, but is an award winning portrait and landscape photographer.
How can couples book in with you?
Just by getting in touch! Jumping on my website and filling out the contact form is the best way to start, but they can also email direct, or message or phone. I love to set up a zoom or meet in person and we can all see if we’re a great fit. Booking can be done online and it’s quick and easy.
How long before a wedding would you recommend couples look to book your services?
Most of my couples book 12 – 18 months in advance. That ensures they can secure their date, and also gives us plenty of time to meet and get to know each other, maybe capture an engagement shoot and plan their day together. Having said that, I’ve also taken bookings just a few weeks out! But ideally, the earlier the better, so their date is available!
Do you offer engagement shoots?
Yes and I love them. They are such a great opportunity for couples to get to know me and vice versa. It’s also a great chance to get used to being in front of the camera. I keep them fun and natural.
What is next for August & Vine?
Another exciting wedding season ahead, and then it’s looking like some overseas shoots mid next year hopefully! I can’t wait!