How did you get into photography? Are you self-taught or formally trained?
I first began to find interest in photography when I was in high school. Our school photography teacher, Mr. Whipple, was one of my biggest inspirations and I swear every kid in school wanted to be in his class! The way he taught was so wonderful and encouraging, and even when I first began and had no clue what I was doing, I still felt like I was growing so much behind my camera. Back then I never imagined that a little high school photo class would lead me to a future in photography, but I am so glad that it has! After high school, I took a few college courses in photography and have worked under a few very talented photographers, but most of what I have learned over the last few years has been from trial and error, with a whole of patience. I still strive to learn more and more and I think continuing education is crucial. I honestly believe that the minute you stop learning, you stop growing, so I always take tips from other photographers, I constantly read up on new techniques and methods of shooting, and I never turn down a good discussion with anyone! You never know what you may pick up from them!
Describe your style in one sentence.
I shoot to capture your essence so that you can relive your moments over and over again in a combination of documentary-style work mixed with a classical touch.
What’s been your favorite experience as a wedding photographer?
One of my favorite experiences as a photographer was actually being heavily involved in a SURPRISE Wedding! I know, I know, it sounds crazy, but let me tell you, there wasn’t a dry eye in that room and it went off without a hitch! From the planning to be sure every detail was just right, to capture the anxiety and excitement of the Bride who was surprising her fiance with their little dream wedding, and best of all, his reaction when he walked into a gorgeous little hall expecting to help a friend move his equipment, but instead finding all of his loved ones, their beautiful sons and his stunning bride all waiting for him. I still get goosebumps thinking about it and I wish every bride and groom could and can feel the same overflowing gush of dedication, friendship, and love that everyone in that room felt that day watching those two lock eyes as if it was the very first time.
What do you love most about photographing weddings? Why do you photograph weddings in particular?
I would say that there are two parts of photographing weddings that make them my absolute favorite. The first is when the bride(s) and groom(s) finally see one another. Be it during the “first look” or while they are walking down the aisle, the pure bliss and excitement is so beautiful to witness and 199.9% of the time I tear up. It is innocent and vulnerable mixed with an electric wave full of fire and I swear I chase that high at each wedding. it’s so phenomenal. I just love seeing people in love, and let’s face it, when you go to work each day and you get to watch people fall further into love and stand by one another in a promise, you can’t help but feel all lovey and sappy inside! My second favorite part is getting to build relationships with the brides and grooms, their friends, and their families. I leave each event and my biggest compliment from most is that “It is like you (I) are part of the family, you made us feel so comfortable”. Building those relationships, having guests and friends feel like I am one with the party instead of an intruder who is imposing on their moment, allows me to continue to build my business, and watch not only my couple grow beyond their wedding day, but also those significant to them. Your wedding lasts for one fairy-tale day, but our relationship will continue from then on as you start a family, celebrate birthdays and anniversaries and every little milestone in-between. Your wedding day is just the start for us!
Where is the most interesting or unique place you’ve photographed a wedding? Was there anything especially challenging about it?
The most interesting place I have photographed a wedding to date would have to be Elk Run Winery. Not that this was a venue that was unusual, but the layout was so very different from most, but it flowed so beautifully and in such a gorgeous manner, that it proved to be one of my favorite places to have photographed yet. The bride prepared for her big day in a wine tasting room in the back of the venue, the room was decorated with the most unique paintings and decor, it had more character than I can even begin to describe. A large oil painting of their wine bottle stood taller than the bride in the corner and made for the neatest little portrait spot. Their beautiful covered stage made of deep rich wood was covered in roses and was surrounded by two semicircles of chairs to greet the bride and groom as they walked down the aisle with their children. Between the row after row of vines, I was able to capture the bride and grooms most intimate moments, as well as some adorable shots of their families and friends. There was a quaint round tent that the reception took place in, but the entrance remained open and allowed the entire area to feel more a part of the fields, and the dance floor spilled over into the center of the original area for the ceremony seating and was surrounded by twinkling lights. It was truly breathtaking, and the sunsets that made its presence that day was just the icing to the cake.
Do you have a favorite, must-capture moment for every wedding?
My favorite, must capture moments for my weddings are when the bride and her mother have a moment after she has slipped into her dress and the weight of the day hits them both (the happy tears are just too much!) the reaction of the groom when he first sees his bride walking down the aisle. Both take my breath away every time!
As a photographer, what has been your biggest wedding day challenge?
I once had a wedding where the brides were VERY both late due to hair/makeup issues, their wedding party didn’t have anyone to do their hair at all, their venue was not set up because the family/friends that they had entrusted to do so dropped the ball, their caterer had the wrong day scheduled so the remaining family was scrambling to make food (and fast) so that the guests would be able to eat, and I ended up setting up, dressing, and decorating the entire hall…and even whipped up a few up-do’s for the wedding party, while I waited for my gorgeous brides to arrive. This was very early on in my career and I wanted to badly for this wedding to happen and for my brides to have the wedding they deserved. To say it was stressful was an understatement, and when I left that day I thought for a moment “If this is how weddings are, am I sure I want to do this?”, but when I finally got home late that night, showered the crazy day off of me and sat down to edit their portraits, I saw their smiles. I saw the happiness and excitement in their eyes and I relived all of the great moments that came out of their day when the chaos had finally come to an end, and it made me realize this WAS the job for me. If I could help turn around the craziest day and assist in making it into something incredible, then this was the job for me, because the warmth I felt in my heart and the pride I had in myself for not giving up and pulling out all the stops was so overwhelming and fulfilling.
What piece of advice would you give brides and grooms to ensure that they get wedding photos they love forever? (This can include tips about preparation, choosing a photographer, or anything else.)
My biggest piece of advice for anyone searching for a photographer for their big day is to take your time and find the person you click with the best. Do your research, read their reviews, browse their work (both old and new) and most importantly, meet them in person! You will know when you find the photographer that has the style that you want and pays attention to the details that mean most to you, but I think it is so important to build a connection with that photographer too. Anyone can tell you what you want to hear over a message or email, but if you don’t build a connection and a level of comfort with your photographer, then you yourself may not ever get the look of comfort on your face. I pride myself on my relationships with my clients. When I meet you, I am coming in for a hug, when we go over the details of your day, we are going to focus on business, but then I want to break the ice and get to know you better as well. We meet as a professional and client, and I ensure that we leave as friends. Let’s face it, if your photographer makes you feel uncomfortable, you are going to look uncomfortable in every photo, but if you see your friend at the end of the aisle cheering you on with excitement and the biggest smile ever back at you, you are going to let loose, relax and be your most natural self. I know that’s what I wanted on my big day, and that’s what I promise every to provide for each of my clients!
What are your favorite wedding trends to photograph right now?
My favorite wedding trends to photograph right now are the more simple yet elegant DIY weddings. I love the emphasis on greenery, rich wood finishes and significant sign details, and most of all the little extra’s that are being added to the ceremony/ reception “giveaways”. I love the cute baskets full of blankets for the guests for chilly fall weddings, flip flops for the guests who need to kick off their heels and get to dancing, and adorable little customized sweet treat bars for everyone to fill their sweet cravings with, on top of the cake of course! Little, well thought out touches that add a little extra flare are my favorite!
How do you think an app like Joy can help make weddings better?
With an app like Joy, not only are my brides able to find focus in their planning, structure to follow when they are feeling a bit overwhelmed (because let’s face it, those moments will happen often), and a way to make their wedding planning even more enjoyable. There is nothing worse than a disorganized bride who is calling in a panic because she can’t find the information she needs, she has broken the bank just in sending wedding invitations, doesn’t know if Aunt Sally wants Ribs or fish, can’t remember who she added to her final headcount and wasn’t able to keep track of her registries. This app is what every bride needs, and is certainly one that I will recommend to each of my brides as they begin their planning process!
If you weren’t a wedding photographer, what would you be doing?
If I wasn’t a wedding photographer, I would love to be a massage therapist. I have always had a great interest in the field and I love helping others to feel relaxed, to find their peace and to forget about their stresses for awhile. Life is crazy sometimes, and its incredible how much can change when your body finds its center and you can truly relax. Prior to becoming a photographer, I had gone to college for Criminal Justice and I became a dispatcher for the 911 center, and then, later on, became a dispatcher for a trucking company. My heart wasn’t in either position, the stress was never-ending and I felt like I had lost myself. I was so grateful to be able to take my photography business full time to be able to get out of a career that didn’t provide me the happiness I deserved. Life is too short to not do what you love every day!
At Joy we believe that even though a wedding lasts a day, joy lasts forever. What does that mean to you?
I couldn’t agree with that statement more. This is my job, yes, but I take my photography a step further. Each time I am capturing a wedding, I photograph it as if it was my own. I look around at each guest and know that they are important and here for a very significant reason, I look at each decoration and know that my bride touched each and every piece and placed them just where they are because it’s exactly how she envisioned her big day. I look at her dress, the one she has had pictures of hidden in her phone for months and that she sat up late at night looking through, fantasizing about how perfect it would look when her big day finally arrived. I capture all of those little details. Ones that some others may overlook or deem unimportant, and I make certain that they are frozen in time within each photograph so that my brides can relive every detail over and over again. I am here to captures life’s most precious moments, both big and small so that you (my client) can live in them. That doesn’t mean just living in that very second, but living in the portraits that I provide you for years and years to come and feel the same overwhelming joy that you did on your significant day.