Nashville’s documentary wedding photographer
and headshot studio.
I visited The Russell boutique hotel in East Nashville for the first time on Thanksgiving week, to photograph a small intimate wedding of a local couple. I truly enjoyed my experience, and seeing the style / character of the hotel, completely unique from the standard branded hotel. The boutique hotel features 23 rooms, all styled uniquely from one another, and a large lobby common area. These features collectively make The Russell one of the most distinctive and remarkably styled travel / local destinations, and Nashville small event venues. I’ll elaborate a bit more after sharing some photos of the stunning venue.
The building was originally the Russell Street Church Of Christ, established in 1913. Over the years, the building’s vacancy caused it to fall into a state of disrepair. The Russell did a fabulous job restoring the building, while keeping many of its charming features such as the stained glass windows, ornate brick work, and bell tower. Incidentally, the bell tower is actually one of the rooms! The charm of the early 20th century architecture works flawlessly with the newly appointed modern vintage furnishings.
What’s different about The Russell, besides the styling? There is no on-site staff. The hotel has all the technology one could need, all while retaining the comfort and charm of the past. Staff is always available if needed, and does come on-site to do cleaning of the facility and rooms. The couple whose wedding I photographed had to improvise their plans because of restrictions with Covid-19, but the hotel was gracious to allow us to use the lobby with beautiful stained glass windows for the small intimate gathering. Hand sanitizer and a very clean facility was available to all. Not only is The Russell a charming boutique hotel and travel destination, but one of the most character-filled East Nashville small event venues. The Russell was accommodating. I look forward to returning soon. Hopefully by then the dust settles with the pandemic; then we can just celebrate health and life.
Perhaps the legal aspect of a creative arts business is the least fun aspect of it. However, it’s just part of being an adult and a professional operating a business. Wedding photography contracts are a necessary part of solidifying the agreement between the photographer and the engaged hiring couple. Without the contract, you have a verbal agreement which limits the legal recourse a consumer has, In a perfect world, everyone keeps their word. But things happen. There are also a lot of newer providers who bite off more than they can chew. Unforeseen emergencies can happen with anyone, but the contract is designed to protect the interest of both parties, and be fair to both parties.
Key points about wedding photography contracts being fair-
-It shows commitment for both parties and there is skin in the game.
-Timeframes of image delivery, and exactly what is included need to be concise, and not approximate. If this isn’t listed at all, you’re dealing with a joker.
-What happens in the event of a photographer’s absence / emergency? It’s unlikely, but the consumer interest and the liability of the photographer must be stated.
-Are photos delivered with post-processing? (I’d sure hope so, but if it’s not stated, it could be anyone’s guess.)
-I list liability insurance information and think that’s a good idea, but that’s a personal decision. But a pro has insurance, whether it’s listed in the contract or not.
-What are policies with an overzealous shutterbug relative or intrusion from other vendors, causing possible sabotage to the photographers’ efforts?
-When are retainers due, and final payments?
Just to name a few. Not everything belongs in a contract, but learning systems and processes is also key. For example, if an album or other print products are included in the package, what is the process and timeline? Getting it in writing over email is good for reference if needed. Efficient processes and systems drastically improve a customer experience, Questions from the couple should be encouraged and answered before agreeing to the terms of their wedding photography contracts. Naturally, in the interest of fairness, the contract should protect the business but also the interest of the customer. If it’s one-sided in favor of the business, that’s not a good sign. Once this initial anguish is over, it can be happy creating and less worrying.
I feel compelled to make this article about properly pairing wedding photographers and videographers. One odd misconception for couples who have not yet done their homework is that the skill sets are interchangeable or every provider offers both services. Some do, and many don’t, Nor do they need to, because it’s not the same service. Nor is it logical to think you can pair any photographer and videographer together and expect them to compliment each others’ styles and approaches. I know it sounds confusing, but I will elaborate the best I can to simplify the process.
What about hiring an inclusive company?
That’s an option. But you don’t always get your pick of a specific photographer or videographer. If a couple’s expectation is nondescript and they just want the services performed, it’s a sure bet. Not all inclusive companies are made up of staff, but sometimes hired help / subcontractors. A couple may not even know who their providers will be, and it may not matter to them. For couples that have specific tastes in a photographer’s work or style of work, it only makes sense to know what you like about it, hand pick their photographer, and pair the videographer accordingly.
Why is it important to properly pair a photographer and videographer?
I’ll use myself as an example. I’m a pure documentary style photographer. My approach on the wedding day is to work non-intrusively and document the natural human emotion that happens throughout the day. Group portraits are done in a minimal time, whereas many other wedding photographers spend a lot more time posing and orchestrating. That’s what I do best, and that’s what I am known for. I’m not saying what I do is right and others are wrong. The fact remains that my work and the work of a more traditional wedding photographer would attract different couples from the other. The couple who values natural human emotion and interaction would value a more understated presence from their wedding photographer. If the couple hiring me also is hiring a videographer, it’s a far more effective pairing when wedding photographers and videographers are similar in style, demeanor, and approach on the wedding day.
Not all of my couples hire videographers. When I am at the booking stage, I ask them if they plan on hiring a videographer. If so, I provide a short list of a few excellent recommended videographers. I make sure my clients know I am not just recommending them because they are friends, but they are true professionals, and we work well together. It can confuse guests if our approaches clash. Given that scenario, I can still provide the goods, in spite of the intrusive videographer. Some videographers flow really well with my photojournalist style and approach. Others take a more scripted, do things again, re-do moments approach that doesn’t pair as well. All I can ask is that my couples keep that in mind as they’re looking, and I provide my recommendations. A complete style mismatch or working with videographers lacking experience and professional courtesy is more problematic than it’s worth for me, It’s in my interest to provide my best work without being sabotaged, and have our respective products have continuity.
It’s always good for a professional wedding service provider to be responsive and accommodating; being an out of town couple booking wedding vendors can add stress to the equation. Katie and Clay are from Louisiana and were planning on enjoying a beautiful intimate Gaylord Opryland Hotel wedding and wanted to tie up loose ends. The couple wanted to have a destination wedding in Nashville since they and their family have had great times here in the past. Katie and Clay had the planning support of their parents, and are very laid back. I was glad to be a great fit for them, being a documentary photographer who they could hire to document memories without interfering in their day.
One remarkable thing about this lovely intimate wedding is that the couple, their families, and all guests were from Louisiana. Everyone traveled to Nashville to enjoy the festivities. I was honored to be their Nashville wedding photographer of choice to carefully document the natural emotion from their day. Aldo, crowds of people, as pictured, witnessed the wedding ceremony in the Cascades and even cheered the couple on once vows were made. Once the ceremony was complete, the couple and guests made their way to the Hermitage ballroom to enjoy the reception with a DJ, dancing, open bar, and a delicious in-house catered plated dinner. Even with the pandemic and reduced capacity, the party went on with responsible precautions.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this sweet celebration in this intimate Gaylord Opryland Hotel wedding. Congratulations Katie and Clay! Thank you for making me your Nashville wedding photographer of choice and for making me your storyteller.
You’re in for a special treat; allow me to share Audrey and Rob’s historic Rippavilla wedding, once rescheduled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The late September temperature was perfect, and the setting could not have been more perfect, despite the couple having to restructure guest count; also their date and overall wedding plans. I’m just happy that the stars aligned not only for them, but for me as well. Rippavilla is located in Spring Hill, Tennessee; 45 minutes south of Nashville, tucked away in acres of rolling meadows and lush gardens. Bridal prep took place in the guest house portion of the mansion. The ceremony was in the front lawn of the mansion, and the reception was in the garden courtyard. I’ll get right to the point of my documentation of the day; photos!
Venue- Historic Rippavilla
Florist- Flourishing Florist
Caterer – Chef Chris Polley
The ceremony was sweet and full of emotion and laughter. The couples’ Schnoodle, Dublin was an honorable part of the event as well. I paid my fair share of attention to her, being a dog lover myself. After cocktail hour, the couple and guests made their entrance to the reception courtyard, as day transitioned into night. The chefs prepared a multiple course meal, paired with cocktails. I must say the chef’s dishes were delicious, though we had to pass on the cocktails while working, lol. There was a salad course, lobster bisque, crab cake, braised short rib over parsnips, and one other main course I never tried, but I am sure it was divine. DJ Brandon kept the tunes rolling, and I hung back and documented the natural moments of human interaction,
I hope you’ve enjoyed the photos and narrative from this sweet Rippavilla wedding. I appreciate Audrey and Rob’s confidence in me, making me their pick of Nashville wedding photographers to document the true moments of their day, in a non-intrusive manner.