This charismatic husband and wife team really know their way around the wedding business.
Shooting together since 2003, but friends for much longer, Archibald Photography has been featured
in multiple publications and have received many honors in the industry. Bringing avant-garde
aesthetic together with dynamic lighting, this pair is one to watch.
Where were you born and raised? Where have you settled?
We were both born and raised in Scotland. Mark grew up in Biggar, Lanarkshire while Donna grew
up in Strone, Argyll. We met at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow and were best of friends
for 8 years before finally getting together in 1997. We now have two kids and have been running
Archibald Photography together since 2003. Mark is the photographer in the business and Donna
deals with marketing, client contact, album design, etc.
What type of photography do you shoot most often? What type of photography are you
most passionate about shooting?
Weddings occupy most of our time with some family portraits and commercial work thrown in for
good measure. We are passionate about all our photography work which is why we love what we do
so much. Mark has a particular love for shooting fine art black and white abstracts and documentary
travel photography and our new website to be launched at the start of 2012 will showcase more of
his personal portfolio.
How long have you been a shutter releaser? What led you to this profession?
Mark’s first memory of taking photographs was with his Aunt Mary who is now in her 80s and still
an avid amateur photographer. Mark’s Aunt Mary still used a Box Brownie long after other people
were using simple compact cameras and so his first photography memories were of taking photographs
on a very traditional camera.
Mark originally studied Geography at University and became friends with Donna while she was
studying Psychology and business at the same Uni. After 4 years of a degree course, Mark headed
off for a few years of world travel and Donna entered the world of commerce as a management
consultant. Fast forward a few years to when the traveler returned and their friendship became a
bit more. Mark and Donna then left Scotland to travel together for a year in Cambodia, Laos,
Thailand, The Philippines and Sri Lanka spending much of their time obsessed by documenting
their travels through photography. On return to Scotland to settle down, we wanted to pursue
something we were actually interested in and enjoyed – which is where a photography business
came in. Mark decided to go back to college for two years to back up his practical experience
with full technical knowledge before we launched the business.
When establishing Archibald Photography, we looked around at other Scottish businesses and
realized that wedding photography was very traditional, over posed and formulaic and so set
out to set up a business that used Mark’s photography skills developed through travel documentary
photography in a wedding setting. This led to our photography business becoming known for natural,
relaxed storytelling imagery. Archibald Photography was set up in 2003 and has gone from
strength to strength.
How has Zenfolio helped your business?
Since establishing our business, we have been using a fairly basic online shopping cart system.
With the launch of our new website due, we started to look for a more sophisticated system and
did a trial of most of the popular systems around. Zenfolio stood out head and shoulders above
the rest for it’s functionality and ease of use. To prepare for our new website launch, we added
some of our existing galleries into the Zenfolio system and have sold more through Zenfolio in
2 months than in 6 months of our old system. Our clients have commented on how easy and intuitive
the galleries are to operate.
Tell us about your work flow, what editing program do you use?
All our work is shot in RAW and we use Adobe Lightroom for the majority of our editing. Images
are only taken into Photoshop when something specific is required in manipulating an image. Mark
tries as much as possible to get things right in camera in the first place so that Lightroom is
used for the digital equivalent of darkroom printing.
Do you have brand loyalty for Canon, Nikon or something completely different?
We are slightly unusual as we don’t appear to have loyalty to one camera system! People often ask
us if we are Canon and Nikon and we reply ‘both’ much to their surprise! Mark uses both Canon and
Nikon as the low light capabilities of a Nikon D3 combined with the high resolution of a Canon
5DMkII currently give Mark the ideal combination for shooting all photography assignments.
What is the best part of being a professional photographer?
The best part of being a professional photographer is that people love what you have done for them.
There is nothing better than to see a client’s tears of happiness when they see how we have captured
their wedding day or family life. It’s also great being in a profession where you can be creative,
get to travel to different places (we do a number of destination weddings), work from home and also
feel challenged by assignments.
Are your photography skills self-taught or were you classically trained?
Mark spent two years studying Professional Photography and Imaging at the College of Building and
Printing in Glasgow which gave him a good technical knowledge but most of his photography skills have
been developed through experience and by studying the work of the great photojournalists.
What advice would you give a new photographer just starting out?
Be brave. Photography is a challenging vocation and there will be many times when you feel out of
your depth a little bit. Reading and studying photography as a technique can only get you so far.
You need to dive in in order to find your own voice. Learn your equipment inside out so that you
don’t have to think about it any more and you’ll have more time and concentration to put into the
What was your first published work?
Mark’s first published work was in a student magazine which covered a few Glasgow colleges and the
article featured his travel photography from The Philippines. Since then Archibald Photography
images have appeared in numerous publications including a front cover image for The Scottish
Wedding Directory. Mark has also won many awards for his work including Fashion Photographer of
the Year and Complete Wedding Photographer at the Scottish Master Photographer Awards. He also won
the Fujifilm licentiate competition at the British Professional Photography Awards and was awarded
the much coveted prize of an all expenses paid trip to Vegas to attend the week long WPPI Conference.
What inspires you as a photographer? Or who?
When I was growing up I was fascinated by the bravery, commitment and art of guys like Larry Burrows,
Tim Page or Robert Capa. The power of a still image can be overwhelming and photography has shaped
our perception of the world in many instances. In an increasingly airbrushed society it is the truth
within a photograph which really inspires me.
What do you consider the best film of all time? And why?
The best film of all time has got to be either Midnight Cowboy or Goodfellas; but we think we are
going to settle on Midnight Cowboy. It’s an incredible emotional rollercoaster of a film which fits
perfectly to a fantastic soundtrack. Midnight Cowboy is impeccably cast, directed and acted and the
cinematography is just perfection.
What is the very first camera you ever owned?
The first camera Mark ever owned was a Pentax ME Super which was a really solid almost indestructible
camera. Donna’s first camera was a Canon AE1 film camera which she still laments having sold when
they were scraping together enough cash to set up in business!
Tell us something about yourself that we would never guess.
Mark used to be a Puppeteer and has travelled as far as Singapore and Hong Kong to perform puppetry
in black light shows. Donna is very resourceful and once managed to make a coat in remote Laos with
a blanket from the market and an old rusty needle!
What piece of equipment or doohickey do you have with you on every shoot?
Many wedding venues in Scotland are remote castles so Mark always some food with him. A full camera
kit bag goes everywhere but there’s always an emergency sandwich in the car!
Do you have any final words of wisdom on being a first class shooter?
Always follow your own instincts rather than simply being a small constituent part of current trends.
In that way you will be able to find and develop your own style. And always be nice to and respect
the people you are photographing.