Nashville’s documentary wedding photographer
and headshot studio.
It seems like yesterday when I photographed Dustin and Maria’s engagement photos! Time flies indeed, and now I am excited to share their wedding with you! Maria is Pakistani, and Dustin is from Alabama. To celebrate Maria’s family’s culture, it was a beautiful harmony of cultures coming together for this Pakistani fusion wedding with Dustin and Maria! This extravagant gala was made up of two days of celebration. The first night was the Mehndi celebration at Maria’s parents’ home. Lots of festivities ; a henna artist, Indian food, special dances, good times indeed! I photographed the Mehndi, and then the big day the next day.
The Menhdi was a blast, and a very colorful celebration filled with love, dancing, food, and music!! Now I take you to the main wedding day, which was incredibly beautiful and elegant. I had the pleasure of working with some absolutely wonderful wedding professionals that I would like to give a shout out to, then I will continue with the photos.
Wedding reception venue – Gaylord Springs
Wedding and event planner – Alex Bovee with Visions In White
Videographer – With This Ring Wedding Films
Hair and makeup – Salon Atash
Decorator – Party People Events
Florist- Whole Foods Floral
Rentals – Grand Central Party Rental
Catering – Gaylord Springs – in house
The day started for us doing the first look, then a lovely ceremony in the Delta area of the hotel. Shuttles transported guests to Gaylord Springs where the cocktail hour and reception took place. The couple, families, and wedding guests enjoyed in-house catered Indian food (which was quite delicious), open bar and dancing, and a vibrant, colorful celebration. Congratulations Maria and Dustin! I hope you enjoyed this lovely Pakistani fusion wedding, captured in my signature documentary / photojournalist style.
I began my electronic, and eventual phone and text communication with Ravi, who was working hard on proposing to his girlfriend, Uma. The couple originally met on Match.com and it’s been a proven success story between them! Ravi wanted to pick the best spot that, and make it a creative but personalized experience. The couple enjoyed lunch at Husk, and then walked around the capitol, then the farmers market, ending up at Bicentennial Mall, where we organized a spot for me to document Ravi’s proposing.
It was an unusually hot and sticky day in mid September, the sun was not soft and pretty, but the deed was accomplished. Ravi and Uma have these memories forever, and they can remember walking through the heat and sweating, then Ravi introducing Uma to a stranger who had been photographing the proposal. It was a nice moment to share with them, and to witness (and document) this monumental moment for them was an honor. I hope you’ve enjoyed Ravi and Uma’s proposal, and I wish the couple all the happy years in the universe.
Of course both of them had to share the news with their families 🙂
I always love visiting the historic Hermitage Hotel in downtown Nashville. A special couple, Alin and Cheryl, were their special guests, and to Cheryl’s surprise. The hotel was also hosting Alin proposing to her. The hotel staff had everything arranged for Alin as he cleverly and creatively put together the most romantic proposal to his soon to be future wife. This Hermitage Hotel proposal was left in the capable hands of the hotel staff. who even hired me directly.
This was the first time I had no contact with either one of the couple before showing up, which made me wonder if the personal element of the photoshoot would be compromised. Nope, this Hermitage Hotel proposal with Alin proposing to Cheryl was romantic and lovely. Alin wanted a rose petal trail to the veranda with champagne waiting for them. Wish granted.
Alin gave his gratitude to the hotel staff who helped make this monumental event happen. In the hospitality business, I think it pays to be human first, and hospitable second.
The couple finished this special occasion with dinner at Capitol Grille, downstairs at the Hermitage Hotel. I hope you enjoyed this sweet story of a great couple, and congratulations Alin and Cheryl!!
I’ve heard the phrase in many different creative social groups, community over competition. The meaning and concept of it is wonderful, as a mutual support system for likeminded creative artists. I suppose in its correct context, it could be a utopian society for artists. Suppose this discussion is targeted towards photographers, I will use that reference going forward. But, you can fill in the blanks with whatever art genre you choose. The whole idea is to be a resource for one another, and support each other without “competitor” being a thought. That sounds wonderful, and I love it when it works. I find such an arrangement works best in small groups of professionals.
What I love about community over competition-
Sharing information and tips about the craft, technical, business and marketing, etc. is the whole idea. There’s no thought of holding back because technically, they’re “competitors” Well, I also suppose it depends on how many are in the same market, or scattered about. What one needs to learn, another knows, and down the road, it comes back around. I think it works best, even with varying levels of skill and knowledge, when people give as much or more than what they take. Think of it as a joint bank account. In the end, it makes the industry better and stronger. When used correctly.
It’s naive to think of it as an absolute-
There are always those who throw the community over competition term around in certain situations, which is passive aggressive at best. Those same people ask locations from others who explored manually themselves, and maybe don’t want to risk being banned from it are a prime example. Especially if they’re from out of town poaching local gigs. It’s different if that person has contributed, but usually not. How many times have we seen Instagram follow exchanges, where some unfollow immediately after just to fool the algorithm. Which does nothing. Attitude plays a big part in it. There are always those too stubborn or fragile to accept any criticism, but use “community over competition” as an excuse for their petulant behavior. There’s no room for growth with that mindset, nor can they be an asset to others. Just take, selectively.
I’m happy to share my knowledge with a group, as even local photographers, I don’t truly see as competition because we are very different from one another. I have good friends who are also photographers, no problem with that. On days I’m booked, I can refer them, and vice versa. I do think it’s ok to be selective who I help. If someone is over-sensitive or defiant, there’s no point wasting my time, and is not a worthy member of the “community” At least for me. There are also things I will need to call on community for, and because I’ve contributed, I reap the benefits too. I just have no time for those who are selfish and obstinate. Benefit of the doubt is given, but trust is earned.
In this article, I will address some thoughts about budget wedding photographers, that can hopefully help aspiring wedding photographers and potential clients. Let me preface by saying I don’t have animosity towards newer photographers starting out. Nor are they attracting the same clients as me.
How do wedding photography prices vary so much?
There are no entry barriers. The $500 wedding photographer is likely trying to dip their toes in the sand, for whatever reason. Though, if they think wedding photography is the money gravy train, they’re in for a rude awakening. Of course couples will not pay as much for those without much field experience, hence the lower price. Hopefully that eager provider will do a good job and develop as they go. It can work out that way, or the complete opposite. Because there are no barriers, it’s buyer beware. Of course a newer provider will charge less than an established pro because of of varying knowledge of their craft, business operations, experience, and resources.
What’s the best way to start?
I’m not super active in social groups, but it doesn’t take me long to figure out who has the right attitude and who will crash and burn. Those eager to learn by assisting, doing grunt work, and second shooting for established pros are doing it right. Develop your skills and craft with street photography, portraits, whatever, first. Weddings are no do-over events with decisive moments. Other moments that require patience and watching before doing.
As you develop your skills and confidence and have respect for someone else’s wedding day before venturing out on your own, you’re laying a solid foundation. By having at least a starter portfolio with what you’ve shot for someone else, and you decide to go out on your own as well, be honest about your experience and your aspirations as a wedding photographer. Avoid using styled shoot photos as an actual wedding portfolio. Of course anyone even somewhat competent with a camera can take lovely photos of perfectly arranged styled elements or a fake couple at the golden hour, in a controlled environment. What you do with the beating heart is what tells the tale.
Making budget rates temporary-
This is one reason I advocate having some professional photography experience, and basic business knowledge before entering weddings. I see nothing wrong with doing 3 or 4 weddings at a lower price point, with the caveat that you won’t offer it again after you develop your portfolio. And it’s ok to be semi-picky about who you offer these special rates to.
Many think, oh, I can make $500 a day, that’s far more than I make at my job. To run a wedding photography business, you should have at least one backup body, and different lenses, spare batteries, memory cards, and sometimes flashes. When you calculate the cost of doing business, the time invested with the clients, marketing, website and branding, post-production, the math doesn’t add up. Budget wedding photographers with no goal to be more profitable are likely to burn out and be a hamster in the wheel.
If budget wedding photographers keep operating at a loss, they will get tired, and their referrals will be primarily based on their lower prices. Hence getting more problematic clients, rather than being hired for excellence in craft and business. It can become a corner you paint yourself into. If you think having low prices wins you loyalty, watch what happens when you set boundaries in your business and raise your prices. Even if you do 50 weddings per year (a full time job that will be physically taxing, and with lots of post work) you grossed $25,000. PLUS have expensive gear and time involved. That’s a hobby. not a business. Rate increases I know are gradual, but you have to ask yourself what you’re trying to accomplish and have a clear goal besides having to tell others it’s a passion.
Dangers dealing with budget wedding photographers-
I’ve heard brides on Facebook saying their wedding photographer backed out. No, they never hired a wedding photographer to begin with. A pro requires a retainer and has a wedding photography contract to not only cover themselves, but also consumers.
I’m not saying that all budget wedding photographers would do this. But it’s unlikely that someone new in the business will have those accountability tools, or even a licensed business, which increases risk. If your pipes leak, are you hiring a guy in the Home Depot parking lot with Roy the plumber signs spray painted on his truck, or calling a licensed plumber? Their rates will of course vary.
My best advice for couples, don’t be impulsive. Research, and do responsible, thoughtful budgeting so you can establish your splurge and priority items and what you can skip or save on. A higher price alone does not guarantee you success, but lower price usually has a reason. Know them.