Celebrity photographer Jenny McCarthy talks with Rita de Brún about life, her love for Martin King, and some of the celebrity weddings she has photographed.
We’re sipping coffee at her studio in Dublin and even though she’s fresh-faced and wearing jeans, a sweater, and flats, photographer Jenny McCarthy is every bit as glamorous as any of the celebs she snaps.
With her beautiful face, radiant smile, and long blonde hair, is she ever confused with the other Jenny McCarthy, the American actress and TV personality?
She laughs: “On my first day in a new job, years ago, I walked in to see a pin-up picture of her on a wall.” Were they expecting the American? I enquire in jest.
“Maybe,” she jokes. “There are similarities: We’re both around the same age and we’re both into photography.”
She has photographed over 1,000 weddings to date. What does she know about them that most of us don’t? “Everything, I know everything about weddings,” she says and she positively beams as she does.
We talk at length on the topic then, about the sequence, the timing and all the rest, and as she talks, there’s no mistaking the fact that this woman loves her work.
Among the Irish celebrities whose weddings she has photographed are Irish model and television presenter Glenda Gilson, SoSueMe blogger and businesswoman Suzanne Jackson, and Irish football team captain and Everton player, Seamus Coleman.
“Glenda is one of the nicest presenters in the industry,” she says.
“On her wedding day, there was no sign of the TV persona in her. She just wanted to be the bride, to be Rob’s wife. She is very low key.
"There is no trace of a diva in her. I remember on her wedding day the Xposé camera crew arrived to cover the wedding. She didn’t look at the coverage at all that day. She was just loving being the bride.
“One of my fondest memories of her on that day was when she picked up an hors-d’oeuvre and some soy sauce spilt on the belt of her Vera Wang dress.
"I rooted around in my bag of tricks to see what we could come up with, as did she, given that I had more photographs to take. Then in a blink, she whipped a scissors out of my bag and with one snip, removed the stained belt. There wasn’t a bother on her. She was brilliant.
“Sometimes we think of TV personalities as untouchable. But they’re not. They’re just humans doing a job, and Glenda’s one of the loveliest.”
Suzanne Jackson will long be remembered as the Irish woman who wore three dresses on her wedding day. “She’s such a lovely girl,” says McCarthy.
“Some judged her for having so many wedding dresses but I didn’t. It didn’t surprise me. She blogs about fashion; works in the industry. What she did was right for her.
“As for her wedding dress, I absolutely loved it. It was so girly and so princess-like and it suited her. I never before or since saw such a show-stopper dress. It was fabulous to photograph as was she.”
She’s a big fan of Seamus Coleman.
“He’s such a nice guy. I would have taken him home in my pocket if I could. He and his wife Rachel are so lovely and humble.
"As I was working until midnight the night before at another wedding, Martin drove me to Killybegs through the night to be there for that wedding. I think Seamus was the nicest groom I ever photographed. He is so humble and so lovely. His family too are fabulous.
"Throughout the day, they fussed in a lovely way to ensure I had eaten. They were gorgeous people, I remember.”
Despite the number of nuptials she attends, they still move her: “They’re so emotional. It’s very moving when a father sees his daughter for the first time in a wedding dress. My dad died when I was a teenager. He never got to experience that.”
We talk about him then, about how much he influenced and inspired her.
Behind the smiles, Jenny McCarthy’s a deep thinker, someone who knows what matters most.
“Most of us are very critical of ourselves, but I don’t dislike myself. I know I’m not a bad person. I’d never do anything wrong on anyone. We should all think of the goodness in and the nice things about ourselves. It would be lovely, if we all did that a little bit more.”
When life takes a swipe at us, we change.
Did getting a brain tumour in 1996 change her?
“It did. I realised life can be very short, that you have to like yourself and surround yourself with the people that matter. Martin and I did that. We married after the tumour was removed.”
‘Martin’ is of course, TV3 anchor, Martin King.
Recalling how they met, she says: “The first time our eyes locked, we were working together. 98FM had a fleet of black jeeps that travelled together.
"I was a Black Thunderer, driving the Number One jeep. Martin was an on-air person, who went out on the road. Because my jeep was the only one with a phone in it, he’d sit in beside me and I’d drive him around.”
Did she fancy him?
“I didn’t. But we got on really well,” she says with a huge smile.
“About a year later we were at the work Christmas party. I saw him across the room chatting over drinks and realised I’d feelings for him. I went home then.
“As it turned out, he’d started to feel the same way about me. So we continued to meet and chat and then one day we just kissed and that was that. We’ve been together 20 years now. We’re meant for one another.”
On Martin, she says: “He’s much admired. TV3 poached him from 98FM. We can’t go anywhere without people, usually groups of ladies, being all over him.
Is that tough to take?
“Not at all. In the beginning it was hard and I used to feel a bit jealous, even knowing that sort of attention comes with his job. I felt uneasy; didn’t know how to handle it.” She doesn’t feel that way anymore: “Martin always made me feel secure. I’d never in a zillion years think he’d fancy another woman. He’s a family man. Our family unit’s very strong.”
On January 21, Jenny partners with Flynn Hotels to present a Bride Guide workshop at the Wedding Showcase in Cork’s Imperial Hotel.
The Newpark Hotel, Kilkenny is on February 4 and The Old Ground, Ennis, on February 18, where the newly-renovated ballroom will be showcased. See flynnhotels.com
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