Weddings are generally romantic, and wedding photographer Niki McCarthy of Niki Rhodes Photo is a true romantic – no wonder we are as smitten with her interview as we are with her pictures. Based in Oregon, Niki has travelled around the world capturing weddings. Read her interview and peruse her photos and you’ll fall in love with her as well.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO PHOTOGRAPHY?
I was first introduced to photography as a sophomore in high school when I took the fine art photography classes my school offered. After picking up my mom’s old 35mm film camera , I fell madly in love with the art of photography. Photography led me to college and the rest is history.
WHY WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY SPECIFICALLY?
I like to say that the people who surround you seem to define your life. When my photo career first began, I started out shooting mostly portraits. I dreamt of shooting weddings, but reaching the clientele was tough. But when I got to the age when it seemed like everyone around me was getting married, word of mouth spread, and here I am today, a wedding photographer.
DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE IN ONE SENTENCE.
Natural love, natural emotion, and natural connection; all captured in natural light through the lens of fine art photography.
WHAT’S BEEN YOUR FAVORITE EXPERIENCE AS A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER?
Traveling the globe to be able to document the most special day of couples’ lives is quite an experience. There is nothing more special, critical and eye-opening than the opportunity to travel for the sake of love.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHING WEDDINGS?
There are two moments in every wedding that remind me why I absolutely love my job. First, the fact that regardless of how well I know the couple, I ALWAYS end up shedding a few tears during their day. Love will always melt my heart.
The second reason is friendship. As a wedding photographer, my job is to be so intimately connected with each couple that we can not help but create a bond. After all is said and done, I always walk away with at least two great new friends. To sum it up, tears and friendship keep me pursuing my job.
WHERE IS THE MOST INTERESTING PLACE YOU’VE EVER SHOT A WEDDING?
The most unique place I photographed a wedding was a ceremony on a cliff, where the patio overlooked the sunset in Cabo San Lucas. It was unreal, breathtaking and so humbling.
It wasn’t easy though – I had to resist the urge to stop and enjoy it for myself! It was also pretty challenging to find all the right heights and angles with that super dramatic light.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE MUST-CAPTURE MOMENT IN A WEDDING?
Caputring the intimacy between the couple is always my favorite moment. I love it when I get to whisk them away to photograph them alone! In those few moments when the couple gets to be alone you get to see the reason everyone is gathered together in celebration. I revel in letting them share their first moments together. These are always the images they are truly going to remember and hang up in the walls of their home.
WHAT’S THE MOST UNIQUE PHOTO YOU’VE EVER TAKEN AT A WEDDING?
I was fortunate enough to photograph the wedding of one of my best friends from college. Going into the evening, I never knew how much I would be impacted by this couple and their families. The photos that I was able to capture that day may not seem especially unique, but the fact that I knew them so well gave me special insight into the images.
In the picture, which is a close-up shot of the bride holding the hand of her groom, he is holding her bouquet of sunflowers. The bride wears her new rings on her left hand, but on the bride’s right hand is the groom’s mother’s wedding ring.
What you don’t know unless you were intimately connected with these two amazing people is that the groom’s mother had unexpectedly passed a few year prior. Sunflowers were his mother’s favorite flower. I could not hold my emotions in when I was capturing this shot – to have the past, the preset and the future all in one image – was powerful beyond words.
WHAT’S THE BEST THING YOU’VE EVER EATEN AT A WEDDING?
Definitely the wedding where they served brunch for the dinner course. I could have breakfast for every meal!
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE COUPLES TO MAKE SURE THEY GET PHOTOS THEY’LL LOVE FOREVER?
First, always remember that this day is about love.
Second, just sit back, relax and leave it to the experts! As a couple, you have worked incredibly hard at the vision you had for your day. That usually includes hiring professionals – let us do our jobs and give you the most premium experience that we can.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR COUPLES PLANNING DESTINATION WEDDINGS?
As a destination photographer, the biggest challenge is not knowing the area where the wedding will be held. When a wedding is local I am able to scout the grounds and the surrounding areas to find the best location for photos. It’s really helpful if couples allow me to arrive at the destination a day or so early so that I can take my time scouting all of the best locations. If this isn’t within budget, it’s great to have a local or the coordinator provide the photographer with list of locations specific to the venue.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO WEDDING GUESTS WHO WANT TO TAKE BETTER PICTURES AT WEDDINGS?
I ask all attendees to not turn on a flash on any camera. It will not only ruin the photographer’s photos, but it also usually doesn’t benefit your own. Be respectful of where the photographer is and if there are moments that need to be captured. Note where we are and provide enough space – if you are considerate, you can often snap a great photo next to us.
IF YOU COULD PLAN YOUR WEDDING AGAIN, WHAT WOULD IT BE LIKE?
If we could do it all over again, we would absolutely do a destination wedding. We would love to be able to have all of our family and friends at a fun and fabulous destination spot where we could spend the entire weekend celebrating. Hawaii is very special to our family and I couldn’t think of a better place to seal our love. This would be an amazing all day party with delicious Hawaiian food, beautiful views, stunning blooms, details, authentic music and everyone looking their best.
With so many friends and family not close by, it would be most important to be able to spend a handful of days with all our friends and family- something we were so rushed with the first time around.
IF YOU WEREN’T A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING?
Prior to taking my business full-time, I was lucky enough to be working at one of the most amazing companies in the world, Nike. I had the chance to work with with the best people and the creative freedom to produce some of the best marketing experiences in the world. It broke my heart to leave but I knew it was to purse my dream. If photography was not in the cards for me, I would jump back to Nike in a heart beat!