It is probably a cliche but yes my story does start with "I've always had a camera in my hand ever since I was five". My parents realised I could handle a camera or video recorder at an early age, so I had the job of always capturing events and family gatherings. Little did they know I would one day be serious about it, and literally do it as a profession. I grew up in a traditional Afrikaans family, where getting a "real job" meant becoming a doctor, a banker or a lawyer or running your own business as long as it was your dad's business, not your own...
I was born in South Africa, a country of diversity, color and to the great despair of my parents, they still cannot understand why I am artistic if they never actually stimulated me in that way. I was born an artist, greatly influenced by my artistic grandmother who made me believe I could do or be anything in life.
I completely ignored my parents when they tried to convince me to become a school teacher, or work for the family business, so I can have a stable life. So I set off for beautiful London to work and travel for two years. Here I worked hard at submitting a portfolio to go to art school, knowing that they won't approve. They received multiple acceptance letters from different universities in the post, whilst I was traveling Europe. When I got back, they gave in and allowed me to go to Art school where I got my BA degree in Information Design. Before finishing my studies I had already booked my first few commissions, and got paid for my very first wedding, even before I had physically done a wedding, yes I never did work for free to get experience, I was a serious entrepreneur before I actually was one. My Dad could be proud, because his business ethic had rubbed off on me.
Yes, I fell in love with photography since my very first commission. In spite of me getting paid for shoots, my parents still didn't believe that photography was a real job, I think to this day, they still don't, but what they do know is that I have a talent for it, and I enjoy it, and it has taken me across the globe allowing me to learn from International artists and meet international clients.
So in a nutshell: I am Schantel Merwe and I'm an international lifestyle photographer. I'm a lover of God, I love my husband, my beautiful daughters, farm life, my camera and people. My mind literally thinks in images. I remember writing math exams in school, and remembering the picture of the formula before concluding the sum. This proves why I never became a math genius but rather a photographer.
Photography is my passion and has always been, especially people's photography. Weddings are my favorite and I have been in the wedding industry for over 12 years, traveling to the US, London, Paris, Germany, Dubai and Greece for sessions. My style can be described as journalistic, lifestyle, natural-light photography with an elegant, fun twist.
I have recently started shooting with film again, to give my work an added artistic feel, and to give my clients more options. So now I also call myself a hybrid photographer. To me my clients are potential friends and I become so involved with their wedding-day, that I get emotional when paging through their albums afterwards. This is why many of my clients book me for family, newborn and other photography sessions afterwards. So, if you do like my style and what I stand for, brace yourself because your photo session will be something that you remember forever!
Above Image of myself: Brian Wright form French Grey Photography