I had the chance to interview the founder as well as visual artist of MakeLoveReal.com, Neil Cowley.
Here is the email interview:
1) Can you give me an introduction of yourself, when and how did you start out and what is your wedding site about?
Thanks for asking I’m glad to introduce myself. My name is Neil Cowley, and I am a visual artist working in the ‘wedding market’ as I artfully integrate images into the life stories of my clients. I started shooting weddings in 2000 as a photographer – I fully committed to weddings as my primary medium and creative outlet in 2007 with the creation of my company Make Love Real. My wedding site is about sharing love stories – you know – love is really so unlikely, yet we all need it, we all share it and amid all the negative press, amid all the advertising messages, we need to tell love stories more than any of those messages.
2) I understand your site has been up for a really long time and is now one of top wedding authority sites online. What do you think is the key factor to your success?
Yes, well I started my website (www.NeilCowley.com) in 2000 and I was working full time in the web-design business as well as a photographer, so my site was really a ‘blog’ from the beginning as I was so excited about each wedding I shot. I posted my favorite pictures online and it kept growing. You can actually see everything from 2003 onward on older pages of my site. Some funny things grew out of that, for a while in the early days Google listed my site as one of the top three for ‘wedding photojournalist’ and as I began to play with that some fun things came with it such as being the number 1 result in Google for “Jedi master wedding photographer“.
Well the key factor to my ongoing success is focusing on the love between my clients, helping them express it to each other and capture it within the pictures. As simple as that seems in writing – it’s a complex task to help each couple gain trust with you as the artist and allow you to give voice to their unique relationship and life path. I developed a multimedia essay on my site to help give couples an understanding of my role with them and I call it “Where Art Lives”
From there, clients ask me to do their wedding invitations, thank-you cards and really get to know them through the wedding process and then throughout the rest of their lives.
3) What is it about your website that you are most proud of?
The people I feature on it. I enjoy making art, and whatever I put my hand to I can make beautiful. But the opportunity, the honor and exhilaration to being a part of making something that is really a part of these people’s lives is thrilling to the core every time.
4) What is the greatest challenge that you have faced while growing your site?
The only challenge I’ve had is getting our work in front of the people who have that small seed of desire in their hearts; and as soon as they find us – they’re eager to plant that seed in our soil and we’ll water it and before you know it sprouts on our photo stream – and blossoms in their relationship for the rest of their lives. While there is a shortage of love shown in the world, there isn’t a shortage of love in the human heart. So the challenge is getting it out there!
5) Currently, what is the one wedding tip you want to give to soon-to-wed couples?
Live in the moment fully. Don’t let the details overwhelm you to the point of confusion. When the day comes don’t try to change anything – just soak it up and live fully!
And the second tip is, to be creative with Make Love Real in your corner to make art!
6) What are some of the areas do you think wedding couples always overlook when planning their own weddings?
Time for themselves. Funny how couples often appreciate me pulling them away for some portraits where they get to talk to each other. Or asking them to be dressed earlier than they planned so they have time to meet face to face for the first time. Or otherwise helping them to focus back on each other amidst all the wonderful events and supportive people around them that has the potential to overwhelm.
But when it comes to photography, sometimes the eye can deceive. Since I’ve been working in this realm for quite some time I’ve come to realize the difference between pictures that show love – and pictures that show something ‘cool’, ‘hip’, ‘stylish’, or otherwise are just eye candy. So my advice in choosing a photographer is to look for an artist that will help you illustrate your relationship beyond making you look good. If you make your choice with this mindset I would hope the images have the power
to encourage your relationship in dark times, and provide more satisfaction in the long run of your family story.
7) Your final thought and advice for my wedding blog readers?
Plant a small seed of love in someone each day, and you will soon be surrounded by a garden. Think of planning your wedding in the same way. What small special thing can you do for each of your family and friends to complement that one big promise for your future spouse?
Neil Cowley – Make Love Real
That?s the end of the interview.
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