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Interview With Cliff Mautner

Cliff Mautner picked up his first camera at the age of 7. This is how early his photographic career started. Armed with a toy camera at an early age, he caught the photography bug. Originally from New York, he found himself in Philadelphia, shooting a 15 year long career for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Cliff didn't want to be a wedding photographer at first, but now it is his first love, although he is a dad first and foremost. Cliff has shot over 700 weddings over the many years and he doesn't see himself slowing down anytime soon.

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How did you become a wedding photographer.
Originally I didn't want to be a wedding photographer, it was the last thing I thought about. Unfortunately, after a long career with The Philadelphia Inquirer, I lost my job due to a company shake up. I had to start doing what I could to survive, shooting anything and everything to stay alive. I shot a few weddings for a local studio and soon figured out I should just do this myself. It's been 11 years now and I am still passionate about what I do.

How did you become the photographer you are today?
I think it just took time. It's evolved, it's an evolving process. As a photographer I've realised you can't always have it the way you want it. You can't choose your subjects, you can't predict the weather or lighting conditions. You just have to deal with it and adapt with it. My ability to see light and work with it has helped set me apart. Learning to use it has enabled me to create my style. Also. Learning. I am still learning and I will always continue to learn, I learn by doing it.

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Who or what inspires you?
I don't really follow other wedding photographers. There are some great ones out there. I take my inspiration from a variety of things. Films, paintings. Any kind of art that takes advantage of great light and simple composition speaks to me.

What is our favourite piece of equipment?
I love my Nikon D3 and it has changed everything for me. We all have amazing cameras and amazing lenses so we should all be able to take amazing pictures. So in that respect, again I will say light. I use light like I use a piece of equipment. It is the most important tool for any of us and can help seperate you from the crowd.

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For someone starting out in the industry, what do you think is important to have?
I think there are many things you need to have. The age of digital has allowed many people to enter the field without a need to become good at what they do. You need to learn all the fundamentals, understand the camera, understand how light works and have a basic understanding first.

Any more advice for wedding photographers out there?
I would say go out and find your style. It's an over saturated market and you need to have your own style that stands out. Photography has to be instinctive and that's the only way you can create it. You need to have a proficient amount of skill and knowledge but if your constantly thinking of exposure values, lenses, focusing, you're not thinking about the image itself. You need to be able to walk before you can run...

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