How did you get into photography? Are you self-taught or formally trained?
I got a camera for my 12th birthday from my dad. When I looked through the viewfinder and clicked the shutter, I was hooked! I always had photography as a hobby until I was able to turn it into a career in my late 20’s. I owned a scrapbook store at the time and being the photographer in the family, my cousin asked me to photograph her wedding. I shot her wedding as a favor even though I was terrified I would mess it up! Later when I was scrapbooking the photos in my store, a customer walked by, saw my work, and asked who had photographed the wedding. Her daughter was getting married soon and she was looking for a photographer. I was not about to volunteer, but my employee piped up and did it for me! That wedding turned into to a couple of referrals. At that point, I decided I needed to learn a little something more about photography. I met quite a few professional photographers at the photo lab I was working at part-time and started shadowing them at weddings. I also joined my local professional associations so I could learn from my peers and participate in workshops and educational seminars.
Describe your style in one sentence.
Classic and timeless. I want to make sure that when my clients look back on their wedding photos 10 or 20 years from now, they see images that stand the test of time rather than images that were trendy at the moment.
What’s been your favorite experience as a wedding photographer?
There are just too many to choose only one! I’m at an age now that many of my friends have children of marrying age. Many of my favorite moments have been capturing the weddings of children I watched grow up and become amazing people.
What do you love most about photographing weddings? Why do you photograph weddings in particular?
I primarily shoot weddings over any other type of photography because I love the adrenaline that comes with the challenge of a wedding day. Weddings are always planned out to a tee and rarely do they follow that plan! I love anticipating the changes that are coming and being able to challenge myself to capture moments that aren’t perfect, in a perfect way.
Where is the most interesting or unique place you’ve photographed a wedding? Was there anything especially challenging about it?
Early in my career, I was privileged to travel to Switzerland and capture the wedding of a family friend. It was an outdoor wedding in the Alps with amazing scenery. The challenging part was that Swiss weddings do not follow the typical pattern of a U.S. wedding. Plus, the entire thing was in Swiss-German so understanding what was being said as well as what was coming up next was quite a feat!
Do you have a favorite, must-capture moment for every wedding?
My favorite part of capturing weddings has to be shooting the getting ready photos. I love the excitement, anticipation, and emotion that come through as the bride and groom are prepping for the biggest moment in their lives. I get to be a fly on the wall, observing and capturing the moment rather than directing it at that point. This is when many of my favorite images have been captured!
As a photographer, what has been your biggest wedding day challenge?
One of my biggest challenges as a wedding photographer happened multiple times in 2016: rained-out outdoor weddings! We always manage to make every single one of them work by either relocating the wedding or going back to the location a couple days later to get the portraits the bride and groom wanted. One wedding in October truly stands out as the most challenging. We were deep among the Redwoods of the northern California coast. Luckily, the bride and groom had chosen to see each other before the ceremony and we were able to capture beautiful portraits but as soon as the vows were finished the sky opened up and the rain poured down. We had pop up tents everywhere but they just weren’t helping. My camera was wrapped in plastic bags so I could continue to shoot! Many of the wedding guests were actually dancing out in the rain until they just couldn’t take it anymore! The couple and all of their guests decided to abandon ship and head to a local dive bar in the closest tiny little town. It was during the World Series and the local team was playing, so the bar was packed before we showed up and invaded it. One of my favorite memories of that day is seeing the bride’s mom give her toast directly to the bride and groom over the noise of the baseball game and jukebox playing. Only the bride and groom could hear her words but the rest of us could feel the emotion by watching their faces. Essentially that’s what photography is …a picture to tell a story, without sound. That’s what we were witnessing then.
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.)
Make sure you love your photographer, not just their work! Your photographer is going to shadow you all day and be there for every moment. You need to make sure your personalities mesh. Also, make a realistic timeline with your photographer and make sure your wedding planner understands it. So many people leave only 20 minutes for portraits with the bride and groom and then are disappointed that they don’t have very many photographs together. If you can’t take extra time between the ceremony and reception, plan a little time (15-20 min) for a sunset session whether you have a good sunset or not! Let your family and your wedding planner know that you’re going to do this so they aren’t wondering where you ran off to and when you’ll be back. Not only will you get beautiful portraits, you will also get time away from the hustle and bustle of your wedding to just be together for a quiet moment. With the chaos that accompanies most wedding days, this private time is invaluable!
What are your favorite wedding trends to photograph right now?
One of my favorite trends at the moment is a formal portrait session scheduled days or weeks after the wedding. I call these the “I Do Re-Do” session. For my business, this originated as “Trash the Dress” sessions and evolved into post-wedding portrait sessions without time or location restraints. The “I Do Re-Do” sessions allow myself and my clients to create beautiful images we would not have been able to capture on the wedding day. Plus, my couples get to get dressed up and feel special again as they wander the city streets, beaches, or local wineries!
How do you think an app like Joy can help make weddings better?
As a very organized person, I’m a firm believer that any assistance with organizing and tracking wedding tasks is a great thing!
If you weren’t a wedding photographer, what would you be doing?
If I weren’t a wedding photographer (or perhaps when I retire from being a wedding photographer) I think I may have to be a professional wine taster! So much of my work takes me through the back roads of the California wine country. I often find myself stopping in for a taste and meeting wonderful people!
At Joy we believe that even though a wedding lasts a day, joy lasts forever. What does that mean to you?
There are so many emotions that make up a wedding day. We always associate weddings with excitement, happiness and of course, Joy. Having been behind the scenes at so many weddings I also see anxiety, fear, sadness, and frustration. Every single emotion, good or bad, is so important to experience! Without feeling sad emotions, I don’t think we would appreciate the great moments in life nearly as much.