Once I realized I wanted to shoot weddings, I kinda panicked. How do you shoot weddings when you've only ever done a few; and by a few I mean the kind that you wouldn't exactly want to publish the images on your site. Sorry cousin, the Halloween wedding was amazing, and seriously one of the most fun wedding themes of all time, but not exactly the vision I had in mind when I set out to photograph weddings (still love ya!) But, in all seriousness, I decided to start where a lot of photographers start out - and that's with a styled session.
If you aren't familiar with the term, styled session - it's basically when you shoot models wearing wedding attire. Now a styled session can be deeply involved - complete with table set-ups, held at a venue, etc. but I wanted the core of my styled session to FEEL genuine. I did connect with an amazing Make-up artist who donated her time and expertise and that’s Make-up by Victoria. Victoria Ronan is nothing short of amazing. She’s got a gorgeous in-home studio (and seriously she has a knack for home design). She’s my go-to gal when people want recommendations; I could seriously chat with her for hours! So once she was involved, a bride recommended an incredible hairstylist, Krystine. Krystine Vincent is just as cute and friendly as the day is long and I’ve called on her once or twice since this styled session since I loved her work! (sidenote: she’s a busy stylist!) Last was flowers and, confession – I did most of them with the exception of one that was donated by Days of May Florals who gave us a gorgeous orange wildflower bouquet (below) to use. All in all, anyone can model for a styled session, but I wanted to know that if I was devoting this many hours to something that it would MEAN something to someone (other than just photos for my portfolio) After all, do you know how hard it is to find guys to willingly put on a Tuxedo in August? So I searched for couples by posting a model call to my facebook page.
Krystine Vincent, Hair Stylist at Morgan and Gerard Salon, Left.
Victoria Ronan, Owner of Natural Looks by Victoria, Right.
Bouquet donated by Days of May Florals.
Bouquet created by April Corey (me!) of Persimmon Lane Photography
Another bouquet created by April Corey (me!) of Persimmon Lane Photography
So a model call is just that - you put out the word that you need models. I had NO idea what I would find when I put the call out. I decided to spread the word that I wanted folks to recommend couples for a "do over" for photos. I needed to know that the "models" in my photos were couples who would cherish them, not just folks who showed up for some fancy photos. I was honestly overwhelmed at the response. I received emails from brides in other states! I got messages from brides who were recently married and brides who had been married for several years. However, the first criteria for me was WHY they wanted this so bad. I decided on 4 couples, one of which couldn't make the date we set- so we ended up with 3. Can I just mention, that never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined JUST HOW MUCH this would mean to these couples! I mean, I knew what I was getting out of it, but the couples were SO amazing to work, and it REALLY reaffirmed that I was heading in the right direction.
So because the couples were so amazing, I feel like I need to tell you about them! The first couple, Holly and Russel were ADORABLE! They were a younger couple who had a beautiful wedding in the mountains of Rocky Gap State Park. They did most of their planning remotely, so when they hired their wedding photographer, they did so based on the venue recommendation (It seems like a solid logic though in all honesty). The photographer wasn't awful, I mean - there were some great shots - but overall many of their photos missed the mark and interestingly enough I met this bride because she contacted ME about doing bridal redo photos, she dreamed of reshooting for quite some time. Honestly, Holly was the bride that inspired me to even seek out REAL couples! Photographing Holly and Russel felt like being on the set of the Notebook or something. Every photograph just oozes an overwhelming sense of love. They're just one of those couples that's so adorable you can’t help but love them! I'm over the moon with their photos, and so are they. I hope they cherish the photos for a lifetime!
My second couple, Chele and Justin got married during a hurricane! Can you just imagine? Well, I can because I was once a bridesmaid at a hurricane wedding and sidenote, my hubby proposed to me during a hurricane but my wedding certainly was not DURING a hurricane! To be the BRIDE during a hurricane; uh...thanks but no thanks. The weather prevented them from having outdoor formal photos taken, but they also went with “the friend” option for having photos taken, and between shooting indoors (which can be tricky) and having the sky be so dark, the indoor photos just struggled. She explained that bridesmaids dresses that were brown in real life, looked purple in the photos…ooof...that broke my heart! But we’ve all been there where sometimes photos are just tricky to take and all in all she said her hurricane wedding was a blast, but still she longed for those missing outdoor portraits. So Chele, Justin and their boys met me on the beach and we snapped away! The weather was perfect! The thing is, you can see the personality of the bride and groom in the photos - and to me that just says it all. While my first couple were so sweet on one another, Chele and Justin were SO MUCH fun! The two of them gave some of the greatest expressions and we laughed a lot during their shoot! The groom even gave the bride a piggyback which is just funny when you think about that big ole dress! The bride told me that these photos were even more meaningful because her husband had gone through a dramatic lifestyle change and had lost about 100lbs since their wedding. That reminds me, I need to check in with these two and see which photo is now hanging above their mantle!
The last couple, Krystle and Jimmy had a story broke my heart most of all. The bride, Krystle told me that she ended up having to go to court to get her wedding images from her original photographer. Now I’m not here to bash other photographers, because everyone who knows me knows that I’m not that girl, so I’ll just say that I don't know what happened (again, I didn't want to be all up in that kool-aid), but I do know that she was only given about 100 photos of her wedding day and even with the 100 photos she received, she felt like they represented so much heartache and resentment because it took so much to get them. So, we came up with a plan to reshoot her formals. While it wasn’t part of the original plan, the bride brought her mother and a big focus of our shoot was her getting ready. We were able to get some wonderful photos of her mother lacing up her dress, and kissing her on the cheek. Jimmy lucked out and was able to wait in the air conditioning while we sweated it out shooting her formals! In hindsight, August was a tough month to shoot but we made it work. It’s been close to a year since the styled session and it warms my heart when I see Krystle’s profile picture pop on Facebook because it’s a photo that I took. Oddly enough, Krystle and Jimmy were a mesh of the first two couples! They were both romantic AND silly. It’s crazy to think we had three very different couples, yet the photos meant so much to each of them.
Ummm…okay, so maybe that wasn't quick but I felt like I needed to tell ya'll about them! Seriously, I could NOT have asked for better couples. I wish I would have given them all hundreds of photos, but from what I can tell they were all smitten with the images, and I was immensely proud of giving them the memories to cherish. Anyone can photograph couples, but at the end of the day, finding real couples who weren't acting like they were in love is something I’ll carry with me for a long time.
So that’s it. That was how I started with weddings. A huge realization that I loved connecting with people and getting over my “what if I’m hired by a bridezilla” anxiety. Once I realized that this was where I belonged, I’ve never looked back and I’m so thankful each and every time a bride even considers me to be their photographer.