Interview with the Experts | Photography | Behind the Lens
Finding the right photographer to capture your day is such an important element in your planning process, so we created “Behind the Lens” to give you a more in-depth look at each of our photographers! We will be running a new post each month, so be sure to check back in!
Take a look below to get to know Marie from Lightly Gypsy…
How did you know you wanted to be a photographer? How did you go about starting out?
I never really wanted to be a photographer – I always wanted to be a doctor. But, as we know, life has a great way of herding you toward your true callings. I got my first “good” camera after the birth of my son. I was going through a tough divorce, and needed something to keep me busy. My friend, Gretchen, who is a beyond-amazing photographer kept encouraging me as I learned different tricks. Eventually my random shoots turned into paid shoots, and I shot my first two weddings for friends.
How long have you been in the business?
I have been taking pictures professionally for about 7 years now. I did take a year off to rebrand and contemplate my career as a photographer while I was finishing my masters in education (I am a full-time teacher also), but I was still shooting and learning during that time.
What are the qualities that make a successful wedding photographer?
I am currently planning my own destination wedding in Colorado, and I have to say communication, personality, and attention to detail are what I most paid attention to while selecting a photographer for my own wedding. Another strong quality I bring to the table, in addition to those, is that I have experience as a florist and wedding planner also. I have been in the wedding industry for over 17 years and have seen just about everything – nothing can shake me on your big day!
Why do you love photographing weddings and engagements?
I love being around people and dig meeting new people. The energy of the day is intoxicating, from nerves to elation. From a writer’s perspective, I love blogging about the memories of the day, and the excitement level is so high that I get a lot of good material. There are also the quiet moments for introspection. I think I was supposed to say something like “watching people in love,” but as any of my current and former bosses can attest to, I rarely say what I am supposed to, and just what I really think.
How has your photography (style) changed since you started?
Oh gosh. You know, in Napoleon Dynamite (this might show my age and weird humor), Deb has Glamour Shots by Deb? Yeah. That was me in the beginning. Imagine soft contrast and hazy images with awkward posing. I had a tendency to blow out highlights and overexpose in so many ways. I was so proud of what I was doing, and still am, though. We all start somewhere. Now that I have better control of the technical components of photography, I describe my style as “posh Hobbit” or “adventure glam.” I look for amazing natural light, call you to adventure in nature, and create crisp, clean images. I also really dig sun flares and using the sun for dramatic effect.
When choosing their photographer, what should a couple look for?
Here is my process because I am a strange Type-A creative:
- Hop on Pinterest and start creating boards that showcase pictures you love.
- Take a week break.
- Go look at the pictures and narrow it down to your top 10.
- Using different sites, like Premier Bride (I used one for CO), find photographers who match your style.
- Email your choices with the following information:
- Your Name
- Fiance’s Name
- Your vision for your day (theme, style, aesthetic, etc.)
- Venue(s) for Ceremony/Reception (or general location)
- Wedding Date
- Timing of wedding day events – just a rough estimate
- What is the pricing for the packages?
- What is included in the packages?
- Can I get a sample of a full wedding gallery to look at?
- As you get responses, gather them into a spreadsheet. Rank the quality of their pictures on their website. If you need a copy of the one I use with my brides, just let me know! I am a nerd for spreadsheets. And color-coding. When you are done, black out the ranking column. Eliminate any that are not in your budget, unless you would be willing to pay extra to get the pictures.
- Take a week off.
- Re-visit web sites, and re-rank the images.
- Contact the top 3-5 photographers again, and ask to set up a phone-call or in-person meeting. Take notes when you chat!
- If you feel good about it, pick your top one, get that contract signed, and pay your retainer!
I should have made a flow chart for that, probably.
The reason I recommend you take breaks, is to eliminate impulsive choices and really allow yourself to think about it. Not everyone needs that, and not every step is necessary. Always do what works best for you!
Is there anything you wish couples would ask?
Not really…I talk a lot, so I usually share whatever I feel is necessary.
How do you assist in keeping the wedding day running smoothly? Do you work hand in hand with the other vendors?
I am really adaptable and can make any situation even more fun. I have a great teacher-voice, and if I see something floundering or not going well, I do not hesitate to step in, delegate, and get things moving. I always chat with vendors when time allows (sometimes we are all so busy it’s more of the head nod from across the room), and make sure that I am working well with other professionals to make your day awesome.
As I mentioned, I have over 17 years of experience in the wedding industry. I am here to help make the process smooth.
What is a typical wedding day routine for you?
I sleep in as late as I can – I am not much of a morning person, and I purposely do not schedule other shoots the day of a wedding.
After that, I re-prep all my equipment from the night before, go through my shoot list, triple-check my equipment, then get ready to head out the door.