Late last Summer I knew I was approaching 20 years since shooting my first wedding. At that time I wanted to do some sort of fun post to recap the past 20 years. I had no idea the amount of time it would take. Several weeks back I dug into my closet and went through every single wedding contract that I had in the archives. As I looked at each name I remembered so many sweet things (and a few that were just nuts) about each day.
Altogether there were 346 weddings. Three Hundred Forty Six couples have entrusted me with their days and I feel especially grateful as this milestone has come in my career.
When I first began I shot with film. It was hard to switch to Digital and it took me a few years to bite the bullet but I did it. I purchased my first digital camera back in 2007. It was a Nikon D80. That was a learning curve for me as it took me a solid 10 months to feel comfortable with it. I felt like I was starting from scratch. Crazy, right? Now several camera upgrades later I can’t imagine turning back.
Over the years I have been asked a lot of questions about my job. A lot of people ask what my ‘real’ job is. This is it. This is my full time job and has been for almost fourteen years. When I first began my photography career I held a part time job as well. But six years in, I was able to quit that job and be a full time photographer. It has been challenging and rewarding at the same time. Truth be told I love being a business owner and take the ebbs with the flows.
I recently asked for questions both on Instagram and my blog. I got many good questions and am going to cover some of them here.
I am starting with the most FAQ.
Q: How did you get your start in photography?
A: It is in my DNA. My Great-Grandfather, Oliver Reef, was a professional photographer. He had a studio and a dark room. I truly believe that my love for photography and my gift is directly passed down in my genes. A few years ago I was browsing some old photos hanging at Swiss Heritage Village when I noticed a signature on one of the photos. It was that of my Great-Grandfather. I had to take a photo of his signature. I wish I would have known him. But he passed before I was born.
Here are some photos that My Great-Grandfather took of my Grandma, Fern. You will see him pictured in the second photo in a self-portrait of he and my Grandma. The middle photo is his signature on the photo that I spotted at Swiss Heritage Village. You’ll notice the date – 1931.
Q: How do you keep from getting burnout in your career? (I actually got this question more than once. )
A: This is such a good question and I’m happy to answer it. For starters this job is my passion. I feel that I was born to do this work. Aside from that I set boundaries on my schedule and I adhere to them. For example, I am closed on Sundays. To some that might seem like a prime opportunity to work, but I see it was a prime opportunity to go to church and be with husband and kids. I truly think that setting my schedule many years ago has been the key to not burning out.
Q: “What instructions do you wish you couple give a couple to help you on the big day?”
A: Honestly I feel like my couples are ‘on it’. But one thing I can think of regards photo location: Sometimes couples have a location that they like and want photos at. But not all locations photograph well. Even ones that look pretty with our eyes do not photograph well. And some look great in morning but not so in the afternoon/evening. So the instruction would be to let me guide you to a location that will give the best photo results. And I need to add that most of the time this is a non-issue as my clients trust me in this.
Q: What is your favorite thing to photograph at Weddings?
A: Photographing the Bride and Groom at the end of the day is my favorite. This is usually during the reception when I sneak the couple outside, (usually un-noticed by the guests as they are socializing). The jitters are gone and the couple is in full on celebration mode. Those moments are always my favorite. Always!
These photos were all taken at the end of the day. I don’t think anyone knew we were missing from the party.
Q: Whose wedding had the most Mother-In-Law Drama?
A: I had to laugh at this question because I know that the person who typed this thought the MIL had to be hers! Let me assure you that I have one in mind but it’s not the person who asked the question. There are some things that need to be left unsaid. But this needs to be said, I can count on one hand the times that there has been an issue. One hand out of 346 weddings.
Q: How do you handle Bridezillas?
A: This sort of piggy backs the prior question. Three-hundred-forty-six brides and maybe four bridezillas ever. In those cases I have to be very patient. I also find myself biting my tongue and praying a lot! 😉 But trust me when I say the four were memorable to myself and the other vendors. 😉
Q: Have you done any destination/beach weddings?
A: Yes I have. I photographed a 2011 wedding in Folly Beach, SC. It was awesome. Other places that I’ve traveled for various photo sessions including weddings, engagement and senior (aside from the tri-state area of IN, OH and MI) are Washington, DC, Pennsylvania, Gatlinburg, TN, San Antonio, TX, NYC and Chicago.
Mark and Natasha’s Folly Beach, SC Wedding
Q: Do you prefer and long train or a long veil for photos?
A: A long veil – always and forever. Even if you only wear it for photos it’s worth it. A long train is gorgeous too and I have noticed the trend of long trains coming back.
Q: What is the best surprise you have seen the bride give the groom?
A: It was Memorial Day weekend 2011 and Andy and Traci were getting married. Andy’s brother was serving our country and the plan was that he wouldn’t be able to be at the wedding. I don’t remember all of the details but Traci kept it a secret and surprised Andy with his brother at the rehearsal dinner. It was such a sweet surprise and there were lots of tears of joy! It was an honor to capture that reunion.
Q: Do you usually enjoy a piece of cake at weddings?
A: Yes, I love wedding cake. White cake is my favorite wedding cake. And I am a big fan of fondant or any kind of yummy frosting.
Q: What is the venue that you are most frequently at?
A: The reception venue that I have photographed at most is Romer’s Catering. I love working there. They run the reception like a well-oiled machine. It is truly a seamless reception every time.
Q: How do you handle it when you know that a couple doesn’t seem to take their vows seriously?
A: Wow, this is an interesting question. I think maybe you’re asking about Red Flags? Well, the truth is this. I sadly can say that I do see red flags sometimes. I am hired to do a job and I always proceed as normal. But in the back of my mind I’m sad for what the future may hold for the couple. I will never forget the times that I have seen a groom so intoxicated that he could barely get his vows out or stand up to cut the cake. I was heartbroken as I photographed these moments. As you can well imagine those couples are no longer together. One of the brides called me the next day to apologize for the groom’s behavior. Another time a couple sent me flowers with an apology note. It really does make me sad for the couples. It’s a terrible way to begin a marriage.
Alright, this has taken a while to write and I am sure a while to read. I’m going to end this on a happy note.
Q: What is the most memorable wedding day you have had and why?
A: There are numerous ones that make my heart want to explode with love and gratitude. But Bryce and Renee’s 2013 wedding will always be one that was meaningful in ways that no one expected. If you have time you can read the story by clicking here. Grab a tissue first. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. 🙂
Thanks so much to everyone who submitted questions. I’ll try and do this again sometime as it really was fun answering!
Much love to you all,