Nashville’s documentary wedding photographer
and headshot studio.
Recently, I had the pleasure of photographing a beautiful intimate wedding at one of most historic and elegant Middle Tennessee wedding venues; Historic Rippavilla. Located in Spring Hill, Tennessee, approximately 45 minutes from Nashville, Rippavilla sits on over 100 rolling green acres. The 1855 built antebellum mansion, gardens, and grounds are open for tours and field trips, and of course weddings and events. The guest house was used as the changing / bridal prep quarters, and on the downstairs level there is a commercial kitchen. The ceremony was held on the mansion’s front lawn decorated with beautiful flowers. In the garden courtyard, the reception took place. There was even limited access to the mansion, and we had free run of the grounds. Tents and shelter can be added as needed. A venue coordinator is part of every event package as well. Easy guest access and easy access to restroom facilities are also well thought out amenities. Without further delay, here are some photos of my favorite venue features.
Somehow, I stumbled upon a discussion in a wedding related group on social media; I rarely participate in those discussions unless someone really wants information I can provide. A bride was looking for wedding photographer recommendations; I understand her intentions, though by the time I saw this query, I realized there was no point throwing my name into the hat. She gave zero information about her wedding, her visions, or any specifics about what she was looking for. You guessed it, that yielded over 100 responses, that after the first three, she probably left the discussion and never looked back. Hiring a creative artist is not as black and white as it’s rainy or sunny outside. Diligence and attention to details have to be part of the couple’s selection process. Also, finding the right clients is why wedding photographers specialize in a specific style and approach.
Sure, there are some “one size fits all” wedding photographers, and wedding photographers of all different price and experience levels. I’m not here to “should” on others, but I can speak for myself as to why I specialize in my documentary / photojournalist approach of wedding photography. By focusing on what I do extremely well and accentuating only my strongest points, I’ve built a brand and signature style that stands out. That does not mean what I offer is right for every couple, nor am I trying to be. Why wouldn’t I go with the safe option and be “both, or one size fits all”?
-I wouldn’t enjoy my work, and would be going through the motions, which isn’t fair to my clients or me. Working with the wrong clients doesn’t do either of us any favors. Why water down my best work?
-I’m giving the couples looking for my approach a reason to hire me.
-As a seasoned wedding photographer, I’ve built this signature style, product offerings, organization and systems to benefit my clients. These are the systems I put to work for my couples. Why would someone hire me and want something different? It makes no sense. Honing in on my niche helps match me with the right clients as well.
Wedding photographers who excel with portraits and orchestration will be spending a majority of the day doing just that. This is perfect for many couples. Will this same photographer be as excellent with documenting natural emotion and candids? Usually not. In their case, the baseline moments and candids are their secondary offering. Just as with me; documenting the true moments are what I absolutely do best. This approach also offers the couple and guests a very non-intrusive presence on the wedding day. The few portrait groups I do are my secondary offering. Couples are, and should be hiring me because they value human emotion and storytelling, and that understated presence. Part of storytelling is about consistency and flow. Even those who don’t understand why wedding photographers specialize would understand the couples who want either style want different things.
In the day and age of no entry barriers to go into business as a wedding photographer, and various levels of skill and experience, it raises the question; what makes a pro? Besides the obvious such as a signature style, experience, polish. and overall resources; The short answer is how he or she performs when things don’t go right. One should know, if they have any experience with wedding photography, or weddings in general, that there are always curve balls. Some minor, others major. A wedding photographer with some seasoning is more likely to perform under pressure when things go awry, than a novice.
What goes wrong?
- Equipment and other technical malfunctions- A responsible pro has backup equipment, charged batteries, spare memory cards, etc. Also making sure gear is in good working condition before the big day. Sooner or later, snafus will happen, perhaps during critical moments. Being organized and efficient helps work through the event without a hiccup, or with minimal hiccups. Swapping out gear and troubleshooting can be done at an appropriate time. I have had a good track record with few equipment related failures, though sooner or later, it will happen. I had a shutter break on my old Canon. flash power packs or cables failing, a flash hit the floor, and a shutter button on my second Fuji body stick. Yeah, it sucks, but I was able to quickly swap out and get back to work. The couple just wants the job done, and would expect a professional to work through whatever comes.
- Meltdowns, delays, timeline changes, etc. I’ve seen that too. Remaining adaptable and not going into an event with a specific dogma is critical. Weddings are built on emotion. The service provider must stay level headed and not crack under pressure. The way I see it: I’m there to tell a story regardless of who freaks out, is late, or decided not to show up / participate. We can’t fret what we can’t control. We can however keep moving and be ready for what is next. This is where following the event is more important to me that obsessing over a timeline.
What makes a pro? Adapting and reacting appropriately, efficiency, organization, and preparedness. Hip image and gift of gab alone don’t do it. Smooth seas do not make a skilled sailor. The key is not seeing in the photos that anything went wrong at all.
I’ve known Sarah Jane and her family for the better part of 10 years, and even witnessed her graduating high school. Life has smooth seas mixed with twists and turns, and bumpy roads. Smooth seas don’t make a skilled sailor, and all young adults must learn to navigate the choppy waters so that going forward, they stay on a proper course. Wilson and Sarah met through mutual friends and shared common goals for the paths of their lives. Which brings us to this point; the day the couple sealed the deal. Allow me to walk you through the couple’s lovely Highland Stables wedding in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Despite still dealing with limitations from the Covid-19 pandemic, it was a beautiful day in the open air venue, and everyone had a great time. Sarah’s older brother Dewayne walked her down the aisle and handed her over to Wilson. Wilson and Sarah’s daughter, Renna was the flower girl, and was quite expressive throughout the day! The ceremony is officially underway. Shall we?
This sweet Highland Stables wedding with Wilson and Sarah wouldn’t be possible without the work of their providers:
Event planner – Cole and Co.
Catering – Kathy Poston
Hairstylist- Sheridan Adkins
Makeup artist- Katy Yokley Cardwell
DJ – Scott Tucker
Cake- The Cake Shop
Loved ones carefully socialized, ate, drank, danced, and it was a great day! I know the future is happy and bright for Sarah, Wilson, and Renna. May your course stay true and may you remain in control when life’s storms come. Congratulations and thank you for choosing me as your storyteller.
Recently, I had the pleasure of photographing a lovely wedding at one of the nicest Bowling Green wedding venues I’ve seen / worked at, Highland Stables. Just moments from Bowling Green city center, tucked away on 169 rolling green acres sits Highland Stables; a 26,000 square foot converted horse barn / indoor open air wedding and event venue. The open air aspect was appreciated by many, due to Covid-19 still wreaking havoc in our society. The outdoor grounds feature many lush green meadows, garden space, a pond with a fountain, outdoor ceremony area, and other aesthetically pleasing features. The indoor venue space has a rustic decor with modern elements, easily becoming a custom canvas. Beautiful terra cotta / cobblestone floors cover the entire interior.
Climate controlled bride and groom quarters (Or groom / groom or bride / bride of course) are also attractive amenities. Heating is provided for winter events. The venue services weddings and corporate events, and provides hand sanitizer stations, as well as easily accessed rest rooms. I recommend anyone searching for Bowling Green wedding venues to give Highland Stables a look. I’m a documentary photographer and am not as much into styled elements: however, I wanted to share some photos featuring the venue, as it’s still part of every story I tell.