Spotlight: Erica Hawkins
In this series we are sharing some of the wonderful photographers who make up the NineDots Community. Finding out what makes them tick and the what, why and how behind some of the work they are most proud of. Today Hertfordshire Wedding Photographer Erica Hawkins shares her favourite 2 images and why she loves them so much.
WHY WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY?
I’m not a very romantic wedding photographer. I often tell my couples this and they excitedly nod along with me in agreement as we laugh about all the romantic things we don’t like! I’m grateful my work filters out those seeking the more romantic couple photos. I’m there for the stories, my couples and their guests! People fascinate me, I can lose myself for hours just people watching. I see weddings as my playground, access to a room full of people whom I can connect with and capture freely, without fear (I’d love to be a street photographer but just don’t have the confidence to capture strangers!). Weddings give me the opportunity to tell a number of different and unique stories from an array of personalities, all from one day. I am so lucky to have clients that want their galleries to reflect this.
Erica’s 2 Spotlight photos
This is one of my all time favourite photographs for a number of different reasons. It’s a real moment, it’s not full of happiness and joy, in fact quite the opposite. It shows grief, loss and pain. Emotions frequently felt at weddings, but often in silence, suppressed so the ‘happiest day of your life’ narrative can play out as everyone expects it to. Truth is, when someone you love has passed away and can’t be at your wedding, you will feel it, it will hurt and it will make you sad. Grief is a subject I feel strangely comfortable talking about, having lost my own mum, along with some very close family members, so when Lucy the bride opened up about her dad before the wedding, I didn’t just skim over her loss, I acknowledged it. I knew the day would be especially hard for Lucy’s mum Vera, so the morning of the wedding we talked about it, they showed me the different ways they were including him. Lucy found so many touching ways to include her dad in her celebrations. One of those was to keep a seat for him at the front of the service with some flowers and a plaque that read ‘Reserved for my dad who’s watching from his cloud’. When Vera saw the flowers and empty chair she looked at me and we acknowledged what a beautiful sentiment Lucy had left for her dad, and then for a moment the pain of his loss was written on her face. I think had I not connected with both Lucy and Vera in this way, I wouldn’t have felt comfortable taking this shot, maybe I would have lowered my camera out of respect. But I felt I had her consent and that gave me the confidence to take the photo.
I have always adored this shot, I love the way this glamorous bridesmaid is leaning over the most indulgent untouched desert table to apply her lipstick in the glow of a neon light. I love the colours, I love the tones and I love the moment. I entered this award into my normal wedding photography competitions (TIR, Fearless, Ninedots and WPJA) and it didn’t win a sausage* Does that mean I love it even less that the above, absolutely not. Having pride and confidence in an image especially when it is NOT award-winning is hard but it is something I am getting better at and this image represents that, so it’s up as one of my best!
**(actually if I am being totally honest it did pick up a little green badge from the WPJA, but this doesn’t really count! 😂😂)
WHY NINE DOTS?
It feels strange to say the community, when I probably wouldn’t say I am a part of it (I’m a lurker, I read a lot online, rarely comment, and I haven’t made it to a single gathering), but in truth, thats a huge part of why I joined Nine dots. It was around the time of the pandemic and everything went to shit, when I joined the amount of support and information being shared was so valuable. Seeing how others dealt with problems caused by the pandemic gave me the confidence that if something bad happened I knew how to deal with it, and if I didn’t I could turn to the group for support. The education within the group is fab and being able to dip into different topics as and when is great.