Our last blog post, Capturing Love, featured some spectacular couple portraits courtesy of Rogue Art Photography. Since then, we’ve interviewed owners Brian and Amy Grissom to get a deeper look into the world of professional wedding photography.
How did photography become something you started doing together?
It all started about 10 years ago when we had our first child. Like many parents, you want to have awesome pictures of your kids growing up. So Amy bought me an old Nikon film camera (an N65 to be exact) and I started taking pictures. We had a little family blog and after a few months we started getting inquiries from friends asking if we could take their family pictures...fast forward about 10 years and here we are. Kind of crazy how it all worked out, but we love it.
Why did you choose to focus mainly on wedding photography?
At first, we were just excited to be taking pictures and getting paid for it! Who can beat that! We started with family pictures and senior pictures, and then we shot our first wedding, and it was a perfect fit. Weddings aren't for everyone, but Amy loves the pre planning phases of the wedding and talking with brides about their vision for the day and dreaming up ideas with them. I love the day itself. As a photographer, all the challenges that come with a wedding day really excite me and keep me on my toes. But most of all, I love capturing those moments between a couple that just can't be replicated anywhere else or any time else.
What are some questions you ask a new couple to get to know them better?
First off, I love music (I promise I'll answer the question momentarily). That was my initial plan like most guitar players out of college, to start a band, make it big, make a gazillion dollars and then be super famous. That didn't happen. BUT, Amy and I still LOVE music. So we always ask a new couple, "What's the last CD you bought?" You'd be surprised how much that tells about a person. We also love stories. And we always love hearing the stories of the couple, how they met, what they like to do together, their dreams and passions. This gives us a glimpse into what makes them tick, which allows us to take better pictures.
What tips can you give on building and maintaining client relationships?
One word...Pamper!! And I'm not talking diapers. It's not rocket science. Get involved in their life a little bit. Figure out what they love and send them some of that love. Make them feel like they are #1 on your priority list. Amy and I really try to commit to having dinner or coffee with all our clients on a regular basis. It's amazing how much more comfortable couples feel (and us too) on the wedding day when you took the time to get to know them the months leading up to a wedding. And it doesn't stop there! After the wedding we try to keep that relationship going by sending couples anniversary gifts or small things to let them know we are thinking about them.
How do you get couples to look so natural in front of the camera?
It all goes back to the previous question. If the couples know Amy and I, and we know them, the "client/vendor" relationship barrier is broken and we are more like friends than anything. And how do you act around your friends? Natural! Then, I just have to be watching for those moments and capture them. Also, our shoots tend to be very laid back and calm. We spend time at the very beginning asking how they interact with each other so we know what situations will make them comfortable and what situations to shy away from. No one is incredibly comfortable in front of a camera, but if we can create a comfortable environment, then we're golden.
How much control do most couples usually like to have over their wedding photography? Does it ever get difficult to honor their requests?
Most couples will have a general idea of the style of the pictures they want. They might have a few keys poses or ideas for pictures that they want included, but we love it when couples give us creative freedom. Sometimes those picture lists that online weddings sites give you can really stifle the creative flow of the day. So we always make sure we get those keys things the couple wants and then capture the day as it unfolds.
What are some common problems you’ve run into and how do you prepare for them now?
Just like in a wedding, you marry the family when you marry the couple. Finding common ground on photography can be a challenge anyway. What some people think is cool, other people might not agree. Being on the same page with the family of the bride and groom has been something we always try to do. Also, weddings will throw curve ball after curve ball for the photographer. The day might start sunny, then get cloudy, then rain, then end with an amazing sunset (we do live in Indiana so anything is possible). Having Plan A, B, C and D are a must. We try to think of anything that could happen on a wedding day and have a plan for if it does. This takes a ton of stress off of us and the couple on the day of.
Any other specific advice you’d give to photographers new to shooting weddings?
Absolutely! First off, weddings are a one-time deal. If you have one camera to shoot a wedding and something goes wrong with it, or you drop it, or it gets wet, you need another camera. This sounds basic, but if you don’t have backups of all your main gear, you need to get some before you shoot your first wedding. You are doing everyone a favor with this one. Also, plan, plan, plan...try to eliminate any variables that could hinder you from taking amazing pictures. The last thing a bride needs is a deer-in-the-head-lights look from her photographer when it starts raining and you didn’t plan on it.
I think though, the biggest piece of advice would be, enjoy the day. Think about it. You have this amazing privilege to document a day full of emotions, family and friends that may never happen again. Enjoy it! Get caught up in the emotion of the day and then shoot from that place. Know that you are taking pictures that the couple, possibly their kids and grandkids will look back on and enjoy. This is so much more than a one day event, so view it as a story, and tell it well.
Interview and Photos for this post thanks to Rogue Art Photography. Check out their website to get a full appreciation for the exceptional work they do and to get inspired!