We had the pleasure of interviewing Nashville-based wedding photographer, Jay Farrell. He shares how he got started, his favorite experiences as a wedding photographer, and what couples need to do to ensure they get photos they can love and cherish forever!
How did you get into photography? Are you self-taught or formally trained?
I began my training with elective classes for photojournalism and fine art. No actual degree. Then went on to doing photojournalism and fine art photography, mostly self taught with the assist of some workshops and studies on form and theory / composition.
Describe your style in one sentence.
What’s been your favorite experience as a wedding photographer?
Seeing couples relish the moments I capture for them and knowing it’s eternal for generations beyond too. Very rewarding and inspiring.
What do you love most about photographing weddings? Why do you photograph weddings in particular?
I’m a storyteller, my style and approach hinges on real human emotion and those moments you can’t orchestrate. Watching for these immeasurable moments of love, energy, emotion, and documenting them and putting it all together into a cohesive story. It’s also an honor being entrusted to be part of the couples’ special day and to be in their company!
Where is the most interesting or unique place you’ve photographed a wedding? Was there anything especially challenging about it?
Each venue has its unique challenges and characteristics. In the end, no four walls can outsmart a skilled wedding photographer. We have to be ready for anything. Light, expose, compose and be ready, all on the fly. I’ve worked farm venues, smaller residences and indoor venues, historic mansions, large hotel ballrooms, symphony centers, etc. The small tighter places are the most challenging logistically but being adaptable with creating a system for each unique place has been my key to successful strategy.
Do you have a favorite, must-capture moment for every wedding?
Well balanced story with the critical moments, and the energy of the dance floor / reception party. My job doesn’t feel complete until its a cohesive story with my signature style. Because it’s driven by the couple and guests, I don’t pre plan moments because I document what happens after watching for it.
What piece of advice would you give brides and grooms to ensure that they get wedding photos they love forever?
Always consider the experience you want to have on your wedding day with your wedding photographer. Based on that, be mindful of the different styles each one has. Many couples aren’t aware how different these styles and different photographers are from the other.
I think once they are, they’ll make a better decision. Using myself as an example, my clients book me for a pure documentary style (I don’t water down my definition) and in turn they value an understated presence as opposed to the strong leader voice while orchestrating posed photos. Other couples want that presence and lots of posed photos. Expect to find that a skilled pro is strongest in a specific area, chooses yours over a one size fits all for best results.
Avoid pre conceived notions. If you find the personality and work you love, there is no reason to want it done differently because others tell you what you should get for how much. Always do your research and check reviews, look over their contract, and have good organic conversation to learn their process and for them to get to know you and your needs. See sample albums and blogs so you know their storytelling consistency and style. Make sure they’re proficient with your type of venue and time of day / night. Study their work. It’s better to look at many, narrow the selection, contact only a few and choose one than to talk to 9 million of them without doing your research first.