When I was 9 years old, I think the height of my achievements was beating my brother at Super Mario Kart or getting my Capri Sun straw into its impossibly hard to puncture hole without my mom's help. I certainly wasn't a 9-year-old wedding photographer with professional gigs under my belt, like one precocious fifth grader from Scotland named Regina Wyllie. Regina — whose father Kevin is the photographer behind KSG Photography — shot her first wedding on April 15 and has already booked another on July 1. And her work is amazing.
As impressive as this is, Kevin says his daughter's natural inclination for photography stretches back even further. "She first asked to tag along to a mountain bike race when she was only 3 years old and brought her toy camera," he tells Bustle via email. "She quickly decided that wasn't for her and took my compact camera from the bag to start snapping away." In the years since, Regina has continued tagging along with her dad, honing her skill. "Eventually, she started shooting with my DSLRs and shooting full-on manual control, as she had heard me talking about controlling the camera instead of letting it make the decisions for me," Kevin says. "Over the years, she's been to more mountain bike races, fashion shoots, trash the dress and pre-wedding shoots, but she was about 6 or 7 when her work really started to shine."
It was around that age when the above shot she took at one of her dad's trash the dress shoots was picked up by Think Tank Photo for a Facebook ad series. And now? Well, Regina is the kind of 9 year old who takes photos any bride or groom (or anyone else, for that matter) would swoon over. Not to mention the kind of 9 year old that makes my inner 9 year old self feel a bit like a chump.
According to Kevin, his daughter's style of photography is technically solid. But, what's more, she puts people at ease — a trait any photographer will tell you is paramount to capturing great pics. "Her camera control, in terms of exposure and composition, is very good," he explains, "and I think that her shots have a unique style due to the fact that people relax more around a kid with a camera than an adult. They don't really expect the shots to be anything special, so they let their guard down. That's when she captures them at their most natural." Clearly Regina's subjects agree, considering that this young lady is now in high demand. When asked what her favorite part of photographing weddings is, Regina relayed through her pro photog dad that she loves "when someone asks to see the screen to see how the pic turned out and watching them smile." (Can I book this sweet child?!)
For all you cynics out there assuming Regina's dad is pulling the strings when it comes to his 9-year-old daughter's stunning photography, you can go ahead and pump the brakes — Kevin's involvement is minimal. On his blog (which includes some fun behind-the-scenes photos of Regina in action), he admits he guides her a bit using Lightroom for the editing process, which makes sense. I mean, I'm an adult and I'm still figuring out Lightroom. He also notes, though, that they actually do very little in the way of editing. As far as lighting goes, Kevin is essentially hands-off, telling Bustle, "At the moment, she only shoots using available light, as I want to make sure that she gets used to looking for good light in any scenario. Once she can master natural light, we can look at introducing artificial light for her."
These days, Regina carries her own cameras — a Fujifilm X-T1, which used to be Kevin's, and an X-E1 with 18mm, 35mm, and 18-135mm lenses — and is considering pursuing a full-blown career in photography one day, just like her dad. Says Kevin, "Initially she spoke about being a fashion designer, but all the recent interest has given her some food for thought and she is now wondering if it may be the road for her to go down." Of course, there's no huge rush. Despite being talented far beyond her years, she is only 9 years old, and her parents simply want their daughter to do whatever makes her happy. "There's absolutely no pressure from us for her to do that, and we're just happy to support her no matter what she wants to do," Kevin emphasizes.
As for what it is that makes this little girl's heart happy right now, well, photography is undoubtedly near the top of the list. When she isn't blowing everyone's mind with her amazing shutterbug skills, though, she enjoys a few similarly impressive hobbies. "She's a competitive ice skater and swimmer," Kevin says. But, in at least one respect, she's not unlike any other 9-year-old girl — she loves her pups. According to her proud dad, Regina "likes to go for walks with her dogs" in her down time.
Images: Courtesy of Kevin Wyllie, Regina Wyllie/KSG Photography