Together Loves – Samantha Donaldson

We couldn’t be more excited to introduce you to the creative, lovely and talented photographer, Samantha Donaldson. Samantha’s photography style is natural, organic and instinctive using a modern documentary approach to capture those real moments and emotions between couples…

How long have you been a wedding photographer and what made you take up this career?

I started second shooting weddings in 2012 and shot my first wedding under my own brand in 2013, in Fiji of all places for some beautiful friends of mine. I was 14 weeks pregnant with my first child and had horrendous morning sickness. I loved every minute of it though.

I had long enjoyed photography as a hobby through my travels overseas which then started to transfer over to photographing my friends kids and a desire to turn that into a career. I never thought I would be a wedding photographer. The idea scared me. But then I planned my own wedding and fell in love with the world of weddings. Together Journal’s Greta who photographed my wedding and acted as a bit of a mentor/question answerer to me at the time suggested I do a wedding photography workshop NZ photographer Kate Robinson was running, so I did and haven’t looked back. I genuinely love what I do, from photographing on the actual day and being surrounded by so much love and happiness, to producing beautiful images for my clients back in the office.

We have all been affected by COVID-19, now that the dust has settled somewhat, what are you most looking forward to in the future? And what advice can you give to couples who may have had to postpone their weddings? 

I’m looking forward to celebrating weddings again without restriction or fear! Whilst weddings are always happy joyful events, I think there will be an extra sense of gratification and appreciation going forward and that will be beautiful to witness.

For those who have had to postpone, I really feel for you with all the uncertainty and added stress. My advice is to remind yourselves why you are getting married – because you love each other! That certainly hasn’t been postponed. We don’t know what the months ahead will bring and when borders will open up again, but you’ve just got to do what feels right for you under the circumstances. If you cant wait I would definitely consider a smaller elopement style wedding with a party later down the track and I have clients doing just this. If you want to wait for that bigger wedding you had planned, just enjoy each other while you wait and use the time to fine tune those details to ensure it will be a celebration that is uniquely you. And still celebrate the original date in some way! Do something special together. 

What are some of the most memorable times you have had as a photographer?

Definitely adventuring with my couples! My favourite times are when we scale fences, wade through streams, climb rocks. Anyone not afraid to get a little dirty are my kind of people. My first helicopter ride was pretty memorable too!

Any career dreams or aspirations you would like to share:

I would absolutely love to shoot a wedding in Italy. Italy holds a special place in my heart and the beautiful countryside makes my heart sing. So that’s a bit of a dream for me.

Do you only shoot weddings or do you take on other work? And if so, what do you think this brings to your wedding work? 

I take on other work as well. I love shooting people in a relaxed lifestyle way so families, maternity, newborn etc. I also have a commercial arm to my business and love to work with boutique brands on product and lifestyle imagery. I’ve recently started shooting some architecture too which I love as I’ve been interested in interiors and architecture for a long time. In addition to all this I launched a print shop last year selling fine art prints of my landscape and floral work.

For me shooting a variety of things keeps me feeling fresh and creative and stops me from becoming stagnant in my photography. In terms of what it brings to my wedding work, well I think shooting people outside of weddings strengthens my people skills and ability to make people feel comfortable in front of the camera. In terms of the commercial aspect of my business, if anything it’s the other way round, my love of photographing details at weddings has influenced my product photography and made me quite passionate about beautiful product shots. 

If you could shoot a wedding anywhere in New Zealand (or if it’s too hard you can pick two or three) where would it be and why? 

That is hard! We are spoilt for choice in NZ. I’m an absolute sucker for spectacular landscapes though and and you cant beat the South Island for that. Any of the National parks and I would be a happy lady but lets say Fiordland, Mt Aspiring or Mt Cook/Aoraki. 

Any artists, musicians, writers etc. who inspire or influence your work? Or what kind of things inspire you as a photographer? 

I get inspired by all sorts of random things but cinema is probably the biggest. I will be watching a series or film with my husband and comment on the light or composition or tones and I’m pretty sure there’s a ‘can we just watch the film’ eye roll ha ha. The last movie I watched was 1917 and the tones in that were beautiful. I love photography books too and would love a book of William Eggleston’s work to add to my collection. His colours and compositions are very inspiring. 

View Samantha’s website here, and Instagram here.