• Kayleigh Lee

Looking for a Devon wedding photographer? Introducing Snapdragon Photography…

Updated: Apr 11, 2021

I’ll put my hands up here and now.

I’m a photographer, not a writer, so if it’s words you’re after you’re in the wrong place.

However, if you’re in the market for a wedding photographer then, hey!

Snapdragon Photography in action

Another admission: this is my very first blog so, rather than going in with the hard sell, I figured you might like to know a bit about me and how I came into the wonderful world of photography.

Now, I’m sure you’ve read a few blogs or photographer’s ‘about me’ pages explaining how they’d been inspired from a very early age and had always wanted to be a photographer. For me that’s only half true.

I haven’t always wanted to be a photographer – in fact I had NO IDEA what I wanted to do as a career.

I did study A level Art (along with Maths and PE – quite a mix huh) and loved being creative, but once high school finished, I didn’t quite know where to go.

I toyed with the idea of becoming an architect but the seven years at uni put me off!

Becoming a quantity surveyor (yep, really!)

I took an admin job at a small contractor firm and from there I started to embark on part time education and obtained a degree in Quantity Surveying.

My Mum (hi Julie!) was very into photography and owned an Olympus OM-1N – a 35mm single lens reflex (SLR) camera. I remember thinking it looked very swish! Mum attended a City & Guilds course in photography and my brothers and I were always being asked (or should I say told!) to be her subjects.

Mum's Olympus OM-1N, 35mm SLR and a young Snapdragon modelling

It sparked my interest and mum popped me onto a C&G course too; I think I was around nine years old. I loved it! But like most things I took on at that age, I got bored and found interest in something else. Probably a good job considering the images I was producing!

I would click at anything to use up the film because developing the images in a dark room was the most exciting part for me.

A young Snapdragon at work ft. Mumma and Poppa Snapdragon

Our own wedding photos

Fast forward around 20 years and my photography interested spiked again... at my wedding!

Doing my market research and looking at so many beautiful images of happy people, I thought (whilst sitting in a cold cabin in my site boots, staring at another spreadsheet) how lovely it would be to have a career as a wedding photographer, being creative day in, day out on one of the happiest days of people’s lives.

Cue mobile phone ringing...oh, another angry subcontractor!

I remember the excitement receiving our wedding photos and how happy they made us – they still do. I wanted to do that for other couples, to make them feel how I felt but also to have a career in something that I could LOVE doing.

Our Wedding, Sept 2015. Images by Silver Birch Photography

My heart wasn’t in quantity surveying, but I knew it could be in photography. I didn’t hate quantity surveying, but it’s a tough job and can be rather stressful (well so is wedding photography!!!)

I was lucky my husband, Mark, was also a QS (that’s how we met!) so I could talk to him about my job and he’d understand, but we were working 12/13-hour days including our commutes, clocking up 30-40,000 miles a year.

In need of a change

We were exhausted and we needed to change, not only for our mental health but for want of starting a family.

I signed up to a beginner’s photography course in 2017 with Mark Gawthorne at Devon Photography School who also owns Evolve Photography. Mark has been a photographer for 20+ years and is so knowledgeable and extremely talented.

I shadowed Mark at a number of his weddings and the way he treats his couples, and their guests, was exactly how I wanted to be. Compassionate, caring, helpful.

Also, his photography is insane! Timeless, elegant and natural. He taught me everything I know and is still there for me if I ever need any help or advice. I will always be grateful to him for helping me with Snapdragon Photography.

Behind the name

‘So how did you come up with the name Snapdragon Photography’ I hear you cry.

Well, I thought long and hard about this, wondered whether I should incorporate my name (KJ Photography) or think of something catchy. I loved ones like ‘freckle photography’ (I have freckles, but this was taken) or ‘ginger snaps’ (I am ginger - also taken) then it hit me, I wanted it to have a nod to weddings but also to my roots.

For the non green fingered here (including me!) Snapdragon is a flower, it gets its name as they resemble the face of a dragon that opens and closes its mouth when laterally squeezed.

Ok, but how does that reflect my roots?

Well, I’m Welsh! Born and raised in Cardiff, the dragon is the emblem on our flag.

An added bonus is the ‘snap’... camera, snap, photo, snap?! No, not buying it? Well I think it works!

Introducing baby Snapdragon

In 2019 my husband and I welcomed our baby boy into the world, Brodie. We went through three years of trying and IVF and we still pinch ourselves that he is here with us; we feel so very lucky to have him in our lives (remind me of that when we’re teething / terrible twos / a teenager!).

Brodie's first few days

Once he arrived it was our plan for me to take my photography full time so I could be around more for him. Then 2020 came and need I say more! One large positive from COVID is it forced my hand in becoming a full-time photographer. (I probably shouldn’t say ‘positive’ and ‘COVID’ in the same sentence).

Fast forward a year and here I am, writing my first blog. If you had told me being a photographer involved wearing the hats of a writer, accountant, marketing, lawyer etc. I think I might’ve stayed with quantity surveying! But I’m glad I didn’t and I’m so, SO excited for Snapdragon’s future.

To all of my past wedding couples, thank you. Thank you for trusting me when I didn’t have much experience. To all of my future wedding couples, thank you too, I won’t let you down.

To anyone reading this, anyone who likes or shares or comments on a social media post, recommends me to a friend, thank you. It means the world to me and I don’t say that lightly.

You are helping me achieve and live my dream career and for that I will be forever grateful.

Kayleigh x

Aka Snapdragon

PS if you think I may be the photographer for you, I’d love to hear from you. Please email info@snapdragonphoto.co.uk or call me on 07875 244423.

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