Let’s Talk With Shea Deighan
Interviewed By Steven Neeson
Welcome To Let’s Talk With Shea Deighan
Every month, the PPANI blog will bring you a little bit closer to Northern Ireland’s best and brightest photographers. This month, it’s the turn of Derry wedding photographer, Shea Deighan.
Hi Shea, welcome to the monthly PPANI interview.
That’s right. Thanks very much to Audrey Kelly for nominating me.
What made you decide that you wanted to be a photographer?
For my 30th birthday, I was given a camera as a gift. Even though I have a degree in Media Production which focused in photography, I hadn’t picked up a camera in years.
My sister owns a Montessori School in Cavan and she asked me to do the annual school photographs when someone else let her down.
I rented some equipment and loved doing the photos. The children were 2 & 3 and were so funny. Driving home, I thought this is something I should have been doing for years. A little while after that, I quit my job and built my website. Soon after, I began taking bookings.
What’s a normal day like for you?
When I’m not at a wedding or doing studio sessions, I usually find myself in front of my computer at my office. The glamorous side of photography! I really wish I could spend more time behind the camera but I love working on my images too even though it feels like my eyes might fall out from staring at a screen all day. Since I’ve become a council member of the Professional Photographers Association of Northern Ireland, I’m finding myself doing lots of work for the PPANI too.
What’s it like being a member of council?
It has it’s up and downs. The PPANI is a fantastic organisation. I really do love being a part of it. Since I’ve been on council, we’ve had to deal with one or two issues but mostly the experience has been a positive one. Our president, Marie Allen is doing a great job and we have a good group of council members. I highly recommend that any other member who hasn’t been on council before make themselves available next year or the year after. It might give them a little more perspective.
What’s the best or favourite photograph you have ever taken?
There is an image of a little boy I photographed at my studio a couple of years ago and I keep saying I’ll never take another better. The little man was about two years old and wasn’t being very cooperative during the shoot, in fact he was doing a great job of ignoring me. I shouted, hi Mr! He immediately spun around and I clicked and ended up with a great shot which is on display at my studio.
My own favourite image is a shot of The Band Perry who are a big country music group in America which I took at a concert in Dublin last year. I love it. It was shot with a Fuji X100s which is a cool little camera.
Do you photograph concerts too?
Not really. I’ve taken a little point and shoot camera to a couple of small shows and once managed to sneak my proper camera into a big concert. I don’t recommend doing that as depending on the venue, they may confiscate your camera.
I sneaked my wedding camera into a Taylor Swift concert earlier in the year. After shooting, for about a minute I got a tap on the shoulder by arena staff who warned me if I was caught using it once more, I’d be asked to leave.
I put the camera away until the last few songs and tried again. I was miles away from the stage but managed to get a few nice shots. My local paper saw one on my Twitter feed and asked if could they publish it. Think they were more interested in Taylor Swift than me.
What gear to you use?
I’m a Canon shooter. I currently shoot of a 5D mk iii. It’s funny because I often get asked if I’m a Canon or Nikon guy. I’ve never owned a Nikon. Think you tend to stick with what you start with as you spend so much on glass. For lighting, I use Elinchrom. Love the quality of the light and it’s so reliable. I use Elinchrom strobes in the studio and have a smaller battery set for location and weddings.
What is your favourite part of being a photographer?
Handing over a finished product to my customer is the highlight for me. Whether it is something that will be hung on their walls for generations or a wedding album which will be treasured forever, the moment of joy and excitement that is shown is fantastic.
And least favourite?
Airbrushing. I know some photographers who love doing it, it’s like colouring in for them but I hate it.
What’s the least best thing that has ever happened at a wedding?
I photographed a wedding in Belfast a couple of years ago. The couple wanted to go around the touristy spots for their bridal photos. At the time, I didn’t know Belfast that well so I grabbed my cameras and got a lift with the bride and groom in the front seat of their classic car that was hired for the day. The journey lasted about thirty seconds before there was a loud noise from the car. The steering wheel had broken. The car could drive forwards and backwards but couldn’t make a turn. The driver was a bit shocked as were the bride and groom.
We all jumped out of the car and left the driver with his broken car as he called for help in the busy rush hour traffic. We ended up doing the photos at City Hall, which turned out to be really pretty. On the walk back to the venue, I spotted a bus stopped in traffic and asked if I could get the bride and groom in for a quick snap. The bus lady obliged and in the end, it turned out well and we got some great shots. I still have the bus shot on display at my studio.
What made you join the PPANI?
Being brutally honest, I joined to try to become a better photographer. I didn’t know a lot about the organisation and thought that the training and seminars which are included would be good value.
After being in the organisation for a couple of years or so, I feel the benefits of membership are huge. There are loads of great reasons to be a part of the PPANI but I’d say that networking is probably the best thing about being a member. I’ve met lots of other photographers within the organisation who really inspire me and to be able to chat to them off and on is a great help and really keeps you on your toes. The best photographers in Northern Ireland are members of the PPANI and some of the greatest are Derry photographers.
Finally, who’s next?
Ciaran O’Neill. Really looking forward to his interview. I can’t wait, as I know that he’s one of the best photographers in Northern Ireland and of course, one of the coolest!