The Story Behind...with Tanya Aldcroft

14th April 2020

We always delight in learning the incredible stories behind the books our customers make- the how and the why. In this new series, we meet customers with a story to tell. We spoke with long-term Bob Books customer and photographer Tanya Aldcroft about how she developed her style, began making customised photo books, and the importance of capturing the giggly moments. 

How did you get into photography and how would you describe your style?

I've always enjoyed taking photos (we're talking pre camera phones!), school trips and parties, you name it! Following my Grandfather's example (he was an archaeologist), I'd write on the back of all my printed photos the date, location and people in it and I'd keep them in chronological order in a box and put some in albums so it was always relatively easy to find the photos I wanted. Digital photography changed everything of course and now my Google account captures all that information for me, but I've never stopped printing photos and making albums. My passion really came to the fore when I went travelling for 7 months in 2011 and taking photographs every day really gave me the confidence to pursue photography more seriously so I took a Diploma in wedding photography with Barrett and Coe in 2012.  Now my children are a bit older, I quit the day job to do this full-time. My style has evolved organically through my experiences, and I'd describe it as relaxed and natural. I always want to put my clients at ease and capture them in an environment they're comfortable and happy in, making the most of natural light to produce a beautiful image. I like a mix of posed shots as well as catching the spontaneous, loving and giggly moments.

What is your approach to wedding and family photography - do you find you use different skills in both areas? 

My job is to capture memories for my clients, and it really depends on what they want as to how I work; some of the best wedding shots I’ve captured have been stealthy long shots capturing the natural relationships and happiness of the day. I'm often complimented by wedding guests that they didn't really notice me and I didn't intrude on their day, but still captured great moments. Of course when photographing children and families, the real trick can be getting everyone to look at the camera at the same time, so a great deal more entertaining and encouragement (including singing and squeaky toys!). There's lots of overlapping skills too obviously, and it all comes down to reading people and judging the situation to accommodate my approach accordingly.

When did you start creating photo books with Bob Books? 

I've been using Bob Books since 2012 when I started making books of my travels – I visited 15 countries in 7 months and my husband and I took 33,000 photos with our two cameras so I had to do some serious editing and document it all. I made a book for each country and then a large 'best of' album. Since then, I've always made albums of our holidays and am now creating books for my clients. The explosion of digital tech means that lots of people don’t print their photos any more, and some great shots just sit on their iPhone or hard drive.  That’s why I’ve started doing custom books for my clients – to create gifts and memories that people can get their hands on and see in all their glory, rather than a 6 inch screen. I find the Bob Books software easy to use, but still with plenty of options and the books themselves are beautiful and high quality, whilst still being durable and affordable, whatever your budget. Given how many books I've made I've also loved the rewards scheme.

What did you find most challenging, and what was most enjoyable about the experience of making a photo book?

The most challenging thing is definitely the photo selection, especially if there's a lot to choose from or if they're not my own photos. The most enjoyable aspect is creating the layout and aesthetic on the page, be it making colours compliment each other or producing a montage of special and complimentary moments.

Your books are gorgeous, what is the process of making bespoke books for clients like? 

It's such a treat to put these books together – I love taking the hard work away and producing a beautiful book that will last for years and years. It's great to meet the client and understand their brief in person, getting a feel for their day (in the case of a wedding) and what was and is most important to them. Not everyone is creative and I find it really rewarding to produce these amazing books. I've always had such positive feedback.

Are you working on any photo book commissions now?

One of my current commissions is a wedding album for a client who I photographed getting married in Chelmsford Cathedral and I love how dynamic the venue is. I'm also working on a commission for a 70th birthday book, with photos of the birthday boy's whole life, so from a variety of sources, with messages from family and friends.

Inspired by Tanya's story? Make your own book now and tell your story. Follow Tanya's photography on @aldcroft_photography