Elizabeth, of Elizabeth Conley Studios, is an Ohio-based wedding photographer capturing real, raw, and romantic moments for couples all over the Midwest. She graciously gave us her time, sharing her must-capture moments, her favorite part about photographing weddings, and what she'd be doing if she wasn't a photographer. We loved her answer: "I may not be a photographer forever, but I will always believe in people."
How did you get into photography? Are you self taught or formally trained?
Funny Story… I saw a former high school acquaintance was selling a camera on Facebook. I had no idea how to use a camera and no real interest in learning, but I looked it up on Ebay and saw I could re-sell it and make some money. So I bought the camera from her with the intention of selling it. Obviously that didn’t happen. I took it out one day and just played around with it and the rest is history. I am absolutely not formally trained. I am self taught with the help of YouTube, webinars and training from amazing fellow photographer friends around Columbus.
Describe your style in one sentence.
My goal is to capture real, raw and romantic moments during every wedding that I shoot.
What’s been your favorite experience as a wedding photographer?
I don’t know if I can narrow it down to one experience. However, my absolute favorite thing about weddings (so far) is experiencing them with my husband. He is my second shooter and main man during weddings. We get to experience the best day of our bride and groom’s lives. Better yet, we get to experience it together. There is nothing more special than capturing forever moments with your best friend. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
What do you love most about photographing weddings? Why do you photograph weddings in particular?
I believe in my couples. I believe in their marriage, their love and their future.
Everything is my favorite. I feel like my purpose and calling is to believe in people. I am currently doing that through wedding photography. I believe in my couples. I believe in their marriage, their love and their future. Seeing the groom’s face as his bride walks down the aisle will NEVER get old. I photograph weddings because I want to see every marriage succeed. I want every marriage to last 50+ years. I want to help encourage marriage in any way that I can. I am doing that right now by documenting forever moments on a wedding day.
Where is the most interesting or unique place you’ve photographed a wedding? Was there anything especially challenging about it?
So a few months ago my husband and I traveled to Houston, Texas for a wedding. I’ll let you in on a little secret: I have never been so hot in my entire life. I have been on multiple missions trips out of the country, living in 100 degree temps and Texas takes the heat, literally. It was so much fun to be in a new place and shoot a wedding in Texas, but we had to overcome the heat and insane humidity. We did it and the wedding photos are gorgeous. We were able to shoot with Spanish moss and unique trees (things we don’t have here in Ohio). I loved the experience and overcoming the heat challenge.
Do you have a favorite, must-capture moment for every wedding?
There are a few must haves that I like to capture besides the obvious: groom’s reaction, first kiss, etc. I really like to make sure I capture the mom and dad’s reactions during the ceremony, as well as the grandparents. Family is everything in this life and candid moments will last forever. I also love getting intimate moments during speeches and during the first dance. Lastly, I love capturing candid photos throughout the bride and groom portraits, the in between moments speak 1000 words.
What’s the most unique photo you’ve ever taken at a wedding?
One of my bride’s mother had passed away a few years prior to her wedding day. She was emotional during the day and was surprised to find a chair dedicated to her mom at the front of the aisle way. All the guest chairs were white and the chair for her mom was a dark wood to make it stand out. It had lavender hanging on the side of the chair because her mom loved flowers. When the bride saw her mom’s chair, she was overcome with emotion. It is one of my all time favorite stories.
As a photographer, what has been your biggest wedding day challenge?
The biggest challenge is capturing every moment. I never want to miss anything so I have my camera ready to go at all times. Your brain never turns off and you are constantly thinking about the next moment to capture. This can be hard on your brain and body. At the end of the day, it’s all worth it.
What piece of advice would you give brides and grooms to ensure that they get wedding photos they love forever?
Make sure you get a chance to meet with the photographers you are thinking about before you book with them. In my opinion, it is REALLY important to have a connection with your photographer before you book with them. I always have coffee with my couples and go over expectations for their big day. You want to make sure you feel comfortable around your photographer and know what to expect from them. If you can’t meet with them in person, make sure you have a Skype call or a phone call.
What are your favorite wedding trends to photograph right now?
I am absolutely in love with anything mid century modern—white walls, large windows, industrial lights, brown leather… I am obsessed. I also love greenery, so hanging plants and florals are my jam right now.
How do you think an app like Joy can help make weddings better?
I love that everything is in one place. If you want a stress free way to plan a wedding, the app is a great tool! From RSVPs to managing guests, the joy app has you covered.
True joy surpasses circumstances, situations and doubt. If you truly have joy deep in your heart, you will be able to overcome anything.
If you weren’t a wedding photographer, what would you be doing?
I just love people. Like I said earlier, I believe in people. At this season in my life I am believing in people through wedding photography. I may not be a photographer forever, but I will always believe in people. In 5 years that may be through missions work, being a mom (I’m due in September with my first baby), or starting a new business. My purpose never changes, just the way I accomplish it.
At Joy we believe that even though a wedding lasts a day, joy lasts forever. What does that mean to you?
Joy is something very special. True joy surpasses circumstances, situations and doubt. If you truly have joy deep in your heart, you will be able to overcome anything. The joy on your wedding day is something inexplainable. If it is embedded deep in your relationship, then you will experience a forever joy in your marriage. From pizza on the couch, to movie nights, to cleaning the dishes, to loss/hardship, joy will never leave.