Nashville’s documentary wedding photographer
and headshot studio.
When couples get engaged and start planning their weddings, and start researching venues and professional providers, the process can get overwhelming, which is something most of us are sensitive to. I’m a huge advocate for thinking and researching before contacting vendors, rather than contacting a slew of random people for prices, only to have no more substantial knowledge to get started, and a slew of responses / follow-ups to contend with. It’s most productive to start with priority services, and those you won’t waiver on. Then contacting the right people for information, based on them being strong potential candidates for your specific needs and vision. Let’s talk about wedding photographers. We stated here, one can be jarringly different from another. In my case, being a niche style of photojournalist / documentary capture on wedding day, requires a specific couple. Using myself as an example, here are some random facts about hiring a documentary wedding photographer, and hopefully this helps you decide if it’s for you.
In short, documentary wedding photography is a specific approach that revolves around unposed natural storytelling and capturing the natural flow of the day. Human emotion and interaction is the main feature, which requires a lot of observing on the part of the photographer, resulting in a very non-intrusive experience if done correctly. I love to meet new prospective couples and learn about them and their vision for their day. I am also very specific when meeting with couples about my approach. Below are some key points to help you decide if this is right for you.
What types of couples seem to value documentary wedding photography most? –
Most of my couples are late twenties or older, and same-sex couples. Of course there have been younger couples who are slightly more reserved and want less pressure on themselves so they can just enjoy their day. The commonality for all my couples; they want personal memories captured and want to enjoy their day, without having to pose and take direction from a photographer all day. If you like the more genuine feel of unposed photography and natural human emotion more than the contrived feel of posed / orchestrated photos, and a more understated presence from your wedding photographer, this could be perfect for you. It’s up to both of us to make sure it’s a fit, and then it’s beautiful all around. I am very up front about how I work and how this benefits them. If it’s not for them, that’s ok too, I still gave them information to use going forward. That’s one advantage of having a specific style and approach, I’m hired for the right reasons and not by accident.
Are there any posed / group photos?-
Yes. I send out a fillable PDF with 8 combinations to ensure nobody important to them is left out, and this is done in 20 minutes or so. Parents, siblings, wedding party, etc. are typically all my couples want or need. This affords me more time to do what I do best, and free everyone else up to enjoy the festivities. Of course I want to please and serve my couples, though if a couple wants a slew of posed combinations or Pinterest ideas, that defeats the purpose of hiring a documentary wedding photographer. I don’t want the wrong couples any more than they don’t want wedding photographs they don’t like.
What about parents with different ideas if they’re helping pay?-
I’m not photographing their wedding, I’m photographing the couple’s. Conflicts of vision can make the whole experience miserable for everyone, so I sidestep the drama and do what I do best. I make sure everyone is on the same page and make it clear that I am hired because I am a master of storytelling, not a general wedding photographer.
A few final random points-
To best carry out the storytelling approach I’ve mastered, I need a lot of creative freedom. Of course I still photograph the baseline and critical moments, but the most genuine emotion often comes at random times to balance out the story. I have a solid system that works well, and a signature style, which is WHY I should be hired. My system is designed to tell an amazing story whether the event goes swimmingly or things go wrong. Some of my best wedding I’ve shot have had disasters happen and it all came together. Hiring a photographer with a specific style and wanting something different makes no sense, which is why it pays to choose wisely based on your needs and visions, which should match up if it’s the right photographer.
I’ve known Dayna for several years, and she has been a valuable part of my team since she started helping me with PR, technical, social media, and a host of other daily business tasks. When she first started working with me remotely from Michigan. her native state, she knew her goal was to end up in Nashville with her long-time boyfriend Josh, who needed a change of pace (and weather). Josh and Dayna met in college through mutual friends and now celebrate 10 years together! The world has turned a few times since the beginning; now they are both here and thriving in their careers, and decided to make their commitment official. I was honored to document part of their afternoon while doing some sweet and organic Shelby Park engagement photos.
One might ask, how does a documentary engagement session work? At a wedding, it’s a moving event, and can be done completely unposed. In a controlled setting like this, it works much the same way. I give a few tips at the beginning as needed and let the couple drive the bus for the most part. They tend to relax and interact, more in their own element. It’s as if I’m a fly on the wall documenting their day out. I was glad to be a part of Josh and Dayna’s evening, and I am excited for their future!
Meet Danielle and Megan. This wonderful couple spent a weekend in Nashville, which was the sole purpose of their visit. Or so Megan thought. Danielle hired me to document the surprise she had in store for Megan; to offer her commitment to her for all eternity. As usual, we spoke and planned some details so that we’d coordinate at the right time, and at the right place. The couple have been together just shy of a year and met through professional circles. We did not that the weather would cooperate, but I was ready to change my location at the drop of a hat. It turns out the rain held off JUST long enough to document the moment and capture the essence of the couple in moments afterwards. It was a beautiful rainy evening proposal in downtown Nashville that worked perfectly according to plan.
The couple enjoyed their weekend doing wine and moonshine tastings, exploring local shops, and enjoying downtime to themselves. Fortunately Danielle and Megan made it to their dinner destination before the rain started again. It was an honor to be chosen to tell their story and to capture this milestone moment in their lives. Congratulations ladies!!
There’s no denying that the Covid-19 pandemic has changed everyday life and how business is done, or not done. Weddings are no exception. To recap 2020, some of my own clients rescheduled to a future or undetermined date. Others had their wedding as scheduled, but made modifications to their original plans to accommodate Covid-19 health and safety guidelines. I’m thankful that I’ve been able to accommodate date changes that have occurred so far. Cancellations are murder on business cashflow, even if retainers are kept. It’s also a double whammy for the couple. Weddings during Covid are definitely possible, even if vague lockdowns were in force early in the game. What have we learned from the changes to the wedding industry during the pandemic? The biggest takeaway for me was that both vendors and couples need to be adaptable, flexible, responsible, and content with what these times allow.
Weddings during Covid changes-
-Events are smaller in size to reduce risk of spread, and some not being able to travel. Many areas (though all should) have maximum capacity ordinances, and this often depends on the size and open air of the venue. I have found couples to be gracious about this and still enjoy their day in a more intimate setting. Those who choose to wait, that’s also an option, though we do not know when policies will relax or things will improve.
-Guests and vendors wear masks and have access to hand sanitizer, while minding social distance guidelines. Venues should also be requiring this!
-Couples must check local ordinances and venue policies and inform guests. Also take guest count into consideration. Weddings during Covid are definitely possible; some of my 2020 weddings have been among the favorite, despite the changes.
-I’ve noticed a few people on wedding related social groups look for venues outside a major metropolitan area so that policies will be more lax, and they can “have the wedding they want” like none of this is happening. That’s irresponsible and selfish. Each area has their own battles to fight. As a professional wedding photographer, I need the work and enjoy being a storyteller, but not bad enough to participate in an irresponsibly coordinated event. I want this to be temporary as well. Let’s get through this and maybe we have a shot at it.
Milan and Suzanne were visiting Nashville on Christmas week, 2020. Milan originally contacted me about documenting his proposal to Suzanne. Due to Covid-19 restrictions at the hotel and being a busy area, that plan was not feasible. He proposed privately on an indoor boat ride at the hotel, and that was a success. We agreed to still do Nashville couples photos with the two of them at Centennial Park, which turned out to be some of my favorite couples work, I loved the mood of their real love for one another and the intimacy of the setting sun.
I loved the mood of the setting sun and the romantic silhouettes I was able to create. I get so bored seeing so many bright and airy photos and obviously posed photos. The artistry and natural organic mood builds important character for not only the photos, but the soul of the couple. This is why I like a day in the life / documentary / storytelling approach for weddings and engagement photos. I wanted to do for them what I do best, be a storyteller. As if I am a fly on the wall for their day out while visiting Nashville. These are some of my favorite Nashville couples photos to date. I wish Milan and Suzanne my sincerest congratulations!