We first came across Emma’s work when we started asking our couples to share their proposal stories. The photos from one super-adorable couple in particular caught our attention—Kevin and Catherine. But then we noticed Emma Weiss Photo come across our blog yet again! It seemed like the next natural thing would be to interview Emma for the blog. If our couples loved Emma, we would love Emma. So here we are…chatting with Emma about how she got started, her must-capture moments, and what she’d be doing if she wasn’t photographing weddings. (Oh, and we were right—we love her.)
How did you get into photography? Are you self taught or formally trained?
I’m self-taught, and it was definitely a hobby at first! When I was in middle school I had a blog (and it was awful and cringe-y and I absolutely hope it’s nowhere to be found on the Internet anymore…), and I started photographing plants and animals to have content to post. Gradually I began following more and more photographers and experimenting more with my point and shoot camera settings, and I think once I realized I wanted to save up for my first DSLR I knew it was something I absolutely loved doing – and could get paid for! I started dragging friends and family in front of my camera (still do!), bringing it out on hikes and family activities, and kind of fell into creating a website with my work in high school.
How did you get into wedding photography specifically?
Again, back to that middle school blog – the photographers I started to follow in bulk were wedding photographers, and I just fell in love with the way they could tell a couple’s entire story, over the course of one day, through photographs. Soon my social media feeds were filled with gorgeous wedding photographers’ work, and I started asking couples I knew to step in front of my camera – and after I got to photograph a couple of weddings with the talented and sweet and humble Lindsay Anne of L.A. Birdie Photography one summer a couple of years ago as her intern, I was hooked.
Describe your style in one sentence.
I push myself to create artful and authentic images, but more than anything I want my work to be smile-inducing, relaxed, and fun; I want my couples to be able to see their images and think, “we had fun doing that.” (To be honest I couldn’t keep it to one sentence so I added a semi-colon to cheat. Ha.)
What do you love most about photographing weddings? Why do you photograph weddings in particular?
It is SO hard to pick just one reason I love weddings so much – I love the emotions that are running through the day, from laughs to tears to love to celebrations; I love that I get to photograph such an important day in the lives of the couples I’ve grown to know and love throughout their planning process; I love that weddings hold so much variety of shooting opportunities, from posing to documenting to styling details; and I love, most of all, that I am photographing the one day that simultaneously holds all of the couple’s history and all of the promise of what’s to come. I still remember the feeling at the first wedding I photographed with Lindsay Anne – the bride was putting on her dress, and I distinctly thought, “I can’t believe I’m here to document this day in her life.”
Where is the most interesting or unique place you’ve photographed a wedding? Was there anything especially challenging about it?
One of my favorite venues so far was Space 2640 in Baltimore! It’s an old church in the middle of the city, and beyond the fact that I adore Allie and Jimmy (whose wedding it was) and Baltimore in general, I loved how moody and grand and unique it was.
Do you have a favorite, must-capture moment for every wedding?
Not every couple chooses it, but MAN do I love a first look. It is possibly one of the most special moments to get to witness – beyond the reactions being incredibly cute, it’s a moment where the couple gets to take a second alone together, before the craziness begins, to just breathe and laugh and cry and be emotional in an intimate way. I recommend it to all of my couples!
What’s the most unique photo you’ve ever taken at a wedding?
At Chris and Victoria’s wedding last July, I wanted to get a fun shot for the groomsmen because they were such a hilarious and easygoing bunch. One of them mentioned it would be cool if they could get a football huddle-type shot from below, but Chris laughed and said he didn’t think it would be the best idea for me to do that. At which point I told them heck yes I’ll get on the ground – so lay on the dance floor, had them all huddle above me, and got the shot!
What’s the best thing you’ve ever eaten at a wedding?
I’m not going to lie – and this is going to sound awful – but I have a hard time remembering a lot of what I eat on a wedding day, and that’s a hard pill for me to swallow because I am such a foodie! I know for a fact that everything I’ve had at weddings has been beyond phenomenal, but the wedding day is such a whirlwind that I would forget to even eat if I didn’t have a set time in my timeline for it! Though I do remember the seafood at Chris and Victoria’s New Jersey wedding being incredible and melt-in-your-mouth.
What piece of advice would you give brides and grooms to ensure that they get wedding photos they love forever?
Your photographer is going to be there during a lot of the planning process – through booking, consultations, engagements sessions, and coffee and drink dates galore until your wedding. Choose a photographer that you really click with and that you have fun hanging out with. The more relationship and history (and coffee) I have with my couples, the more authentic and fun the photos are, and the more comfortable everyone is on the big day!
What are your favorite wedding trends to photograph right now?
Honestly, I think a trend that’s growing is having meaningful ceremonies in nontraditional venues and I love it. I love it I love it I love it. It’s quite something to get to photograph a wedding in which every detail, from the venue to the invitations, is tailored to the couple and the couple’s story!
What piece of advice would you give to wedding guests who want to take better pictures at weddings they attend?
To be honest I would say leave your cameras and phones in your bags – at least during the ceremony! I guarantee you’d rather remember tearing up as you see the bride walking down the aisle than remember fussing with your settings and missing her entire walk. Plus, I’m there to capture all the moments, and I believe it’s more fun to enjoy yourself and trust that you’ll have beautiful and hilarious photos delivered to you later!
It is such an honor to have a hand in creating tangible memories to remind my couples of the joy of their wedding day, while also reminding them of all of the happiness before and after and for the rest of their lives.
If you were planning your wedding (or if you are married, if you could plan it all over again), what’s your dream wedding? Where would it be, who would you invite, what style would it be, etc.?
Because I just can’t help it, I’m going to go all cliché-photographer on you and say it would be a small intimate ceremony somewhere beautiful… I’m sure you know I’m going to say Iceland. But I’d also love to have a reception or celebration with all the family and friends later, because heck yes being married is something to celebrate!
How do you think an app like Joy can help make weddings better?
Having everything in one place is incredible and such a relief! Weddings can be crazy to plan, but sometimes I think the craziness of planning can get in the way of the joy and true meaning of what you’re planning for, and even distract you on your wedding day. Having a portal that holds everything for you – so you’re not shuffling through binders and spreadsheets and documents or looking through your long list of sites bookmarked on your laptop for the months leading up to your day – really takes away so so much of the stress that can be involved in planning. Go Joy!
If you weren’t a wedding photographer, what would you be doing?
I’d love to think I’d be a graphic designer – to be honest, working for the magazine Kinfolk in Copenhagen would be an absolute dream. And maybe with a fitness/health blog on the side, if I ever got more comfortable in front of the camera!
At Joy we believe that even though a wedding lasts a day, joy lasts forever. What does that mean to you?
I think I actually said it in a previous question, but I love weddings so much because they are the culmination of all of the couple’s joy before the day and the starting point for all of the joy to come. It is such an honor to have a hand in creating tangible memories to remind my couples of the joy of their wedding day, while also reminding them of all of the happiness before and after and for the rest of their lives.