I have some EXCITING news to share: I have been interviewed by Woodland Albums and will be featured as their Photographer of the Month. Woohoo! In the second half of the interview I talked about my journey as a fine art wedding photographer in St. Louis. I thought I’d share with you here and give you a glimpse of me behind the scenes.
I don’t talk about myself very often. This was one of the rare times that I did. And it was a very humbling experience! You may not realize this, but we’re all story tellers: we tell stories to our kids and we tell stories to ourselves, about ourselves. As a wedding photographer, I tell other people’s stories. When I talk about myself, I’m telling stories too, I’m creating a narrative that recounts how I got where I am and where I’m headed next. It doesn’t matter if it’s 100% accurate. What matters is the unity and direction it provides.
What’s your story?
1. How long have you been a photographer?
I owned my first camera when I was in college. And I’ve been photographing ever since for 7 years now. At first, it was mostly street, landscape, and macro. And then I started doing more portraiture. When I realized that I could combine all these into one, I ventured into weddings.
2. How did you discover your passion for photography?
I’ve always been very much a visual thinker, fascinated by colors, lines, and patterns. Growing up in the countryside definitely developed in me a deep appreciation for natural beauty and, at the same time, its ephemerality. I wanted to capture it while it lasted. I dabbled in painting until I found photography.
3. How do you define your style?
Fresh, heartfelt, and timeless. My works has been described as warm and soulful. I like using authentic “posing” and open-ended direction in order to prompt genuine emotions and create dynamic images for our couples.
4. What would we find in your camera bag for a typical shoot?
Nikon D700, Sigma 35mm 1.4 Art, Nikon 105mm 2.8 Micro, memory cards, camera cleaning kit, random transparent objects for creative shots, and 5-in-1 reflector.
5. Your favorite lens?
I don’t really have a favorite lens and switch between different lenses when needed. With that said, I do love the sharpness of my Sigma 35mm, and the compression and bokeh quality of the Nikon 105mm.
6. Share with us your favorite image and why.
This image of a father-daughter dance is in no way technically perfect, or the most creative shot that I’ve ever done. But I LOVE it! For me, it encapsulates what I think our job as wedding photographers is: finding those emotional, often unexpected (or even neglected) moments that define the wedding day, that tell a story about the couple and those whom they love and have invited to celebrate their union with each other. (See more photos from this wedding at Old Hickory Golf Club.)
7. When you are shooting—how much of it is instinctual versus planned?
I try to get to know my gear well so that it become a natural extension of me. Prior to the shoot, I often have some idea about the kind of look I’m going for. But I don’t usually scout locations beforehand. I prefer to just walk around, look for good light and clean, interesting background, and then snap away. So I would say, probably 50% planned turned “instinctual,” 20% planned, and 30% impro/instinctual?
8. What are some of your rules of thumb in photography?
- Always look for the good light first.
- Good light doesn’t mean soft, even light. Good light is the light that works well for the subject/mood/look you’re shooting.
- Authenticity first, technicality second. (Bring out the best in your clients and embrace technical imperfections.)
- Practice the basics until they become second nature to you.
- Follow the rules until you’re ready to break them.
9. Whose work, photography or otherwise, are you inspired by and why?
I find myself constantly inspired by so many talented photographers: Sam Hurd (for his creative eye and his focus on photography as a craft), Erica and Lanny of Two Mann Studios (for their bold, dramatic approach to the wedding day), Jerry Ghionis (for his creative control in terms of posing), Sue Bryce (for her fierceness and her fashion-inspired portraiture), and many many others!
10. What is it you like the most about being a photographer?
The ability to see the best in people and bring it out using my technical knowledge and skills. As a wedding photographer, what I like the most is being introduced to people that matter the most to our couples and the opportunity to create tangible, lasting memories for the biggest day of their lives.
11. If you weren’t a photographer what would you be?
I did almost become an academic philosopher. So that’s one possibility. A graphic designer? Or an architect perhaps?