A few weeks ago I had the privilege to photograph Jen's and Will's wedding. Both Will and Jen are naturals with the camera - it was almost impossible to take a bad photo (or a photo without Jen laughing). As always, Jenny Karlsson was an amazing second shooter - she took all the photos of the groomsmen getting ready. She also saved the day during the ceremony - I had a little mishap climbing down from the wall at the Aviary and it took me almost 10 minutes to get back to the garden.
Jen and Will - thank you guys for being such easy-going, awesome clients!
When I met Yana and Michael for the first time, I was amazed at how well they clicked together. It was truly my privilege to capture their day and their love story. Huge thanks to Dan Speicher for helping me with this wedding and for taking so many amazing photographs. And, of course, couldn't have done this without my sister Olga, who diligently lugged bags, lighting equipment and even had her debut shooting video:)
I October of 2012 I had the privilege to help my good friend Katia Forero of Katia Forero Photography to photograph Heather's and Chris' beautiful wedding. Chris and Heather are probably the most relaxed and easy-going couple I have ever met. Their ceremony was at the Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox Church - it was interesting to photograph a Serbian ceremony and to observe all the similarities between Serbian and Russian cultures. During the reception Heather sang to Chris, and I gotta say - this girl has an amazing voice!
It is 3:30 in the morning as I am sitting down to write this. Sophia (my 1-year-old daughter) woke me up about an hour ago and I cannot seem to fall back asleep. Truth be told, I have been thinking about this for a long time and in my “fastidious project manager” mode made pages of notes and lists regarding this subject. When we (photographers) first get into photography business, we usually concentrate on building a large client base at all costs. Very few photographers are picky about their clients, or about the projects that they take on. I know this because for years I had been guilty of that: I photographed weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, corporate events, products, families and babies, just to name a few. One day in the fall of 2003, as I was editing 1700 images from a product photoshoot, I realized that “specializing” in so many different things simply meant that I wasn't particularly good at any of them.
I sat myself down (at a bar, if memory serves right), ordered a shot (or three) of Grey Goose, and asked myself: “Dmitriy, what do you enjoy photographing the most?”
The answer was surprisingly easy – I liked photographing events. So I dropped everything else and stuck with weddings and Bar Mitzvahs. Now, almost 10 years later, I find myself in a similar situation.
Let me explain…
A few days ago I met with a very nice and beautiful couple who was planning a very high-end, high-fashion wedding. I talked to them for almost two hours, trying very hard to convince them to hire me as their wedding photographer. When I got home, I started thinking about the meeting. Here’s what went through my head.
- What the hell do I know about fashion? I am a jeans-and-a-t-shirt kind of guy.
- I could produce the types of images this couple wanted. After all, I used to photography beauty pageants. However, I shot my last fashion photograph 8 years ago – I did not like shooting fashion then and probably would not like it now.
- If I don’t like photographing fashion, I am not going to be excited about photographing this wedding. That’s not fair to the couple.
- I am the wrong photographer for this client.
- This client is wrong for me.
Brides spend an extraordinary amount of time picking photographers for their weddings, making sure they like the photographer’s style and personality. Photographers should do the same with their clients.
Yes, wedding photography is a business, and businesses need to attract clients and make money. However, at the same time it is our responsibility as photographers to provide the best possible service to brides and grooms, something that would be very difficult to do if we don’t like the couple, the venue, the style or the theme of the wedding.
I thought long and hard about what type of client I would absolutely love to work with. In my infinite nerdiness, I even drew a Venn diagram:)
And, just like 10 years ago, the answer was surprisingly simple. I love working with geeks – science geeks, music geeks, photography geeks, tech geeks, comic book geeks; geeks in the best possible sense of that word. To me, the word “geek” = “passion”. According to the all-knowing Google, the word geek has two definitions:
1. An unfashionable or socially inept person. 2. A person with an eccentric devotion to a particular interest: "a computer geek".
The first definition has never not really applied to my understanding of the word “geek”. The second one fits perfectly. Note the word “devotion” in the second definition. If you look up “devotion” in a thesaurus, you will see synonyms such as “dedication” and “passion”. Which brings me back to my original point – “geek” = “passion”.
A few years ago I met with a bride who had a PhD from MIT; we had the most fascinating conversation about superconductors. Last year I photographed a wedding for a couple where the groom made guitars in his basement as a hobby; he could also play a really awesome rendition of “Stairway to Heaven” on a mandolin. I had the privilege to work with a couple whose combined comic book collection contained over 2000 titles, some of them signed by Stan Lee.
I love working with passionate people, people who don’t take themselves too seriously, who are willing to strike the Superman pose, jump into a pool during an engagement session, or drive a golf cart at night over a rickety bridge. I love photographing people who are so in love with each other that the groom is willing to walk a city block with his eyes closed just to be surprised and awed by the first look at his beautiful bride; where the groom is not ashamed to cry in front of 200 people when his bride enters the sanctuary.
If you are a geek, call me – I cannot wait to meet you and photograph your wedding. Geeks need apply!
In 1998, when I first decided to photograph weddings, I apprenticed with an established wedding photographer for almost 2 years. When I moved to Pittsburgh in 2000 and started photographing events on my own, I was my own boss. As a general rule I worked by myself - I did know any photographers in the area and did not use assistants or second shooters. Nor did I assist/second shoot for other photographers. Last year I met an amazing group of Pittsburgh photographers and became good friends with several of them. On average I photograph 25-30 events a year as a primary photographer; this year I also had an opportunity to work with other photographers and learn from them.
I photographed Patrick's and Amy's wedding as a second shooter for my good friend Katia Forero of Katia Forero Photography. It was an amazing wedding - a gorgeous couple, a fun bridal party and a beautiful venue. However, I don't know what I enjoyed more - the wedding itself or working with Katia.
Below are some of the images I took at this incredible wedding...
And my favorite photo from the entire day...
Pam's and Andy's wedding was one of the most emotional weddings I have ever seen. Pam and Andy are so much in love with each other and it showed in every moment they were together. They weren't the only emotional ones. Lately, it seems like wedding guests are more interested in taking photos with their cell phones than in sharing a moment with the bride and groom. This wedding was different. Of course there were one or two shutterbugs who saw the entire day through the viewfinder of their camera, but most guests and family members truly shared all the moments with the newlyweds and their families. I loved capturing this day - congratulations guys! Of course I could not have captured Pam's and Andy's story without my friend Jenny Karlsson - she captured the groom getting ready, as well as some of the coolest reception moments.
A few weeks ago Jenny and I photographed Jennifer's and Stephen's wedding at the Oak Lodge in Stahlstown, PA. Jenn and Stephen were amazing - a wonderful and loving couple and Jenn's dad even made Star Trek references in his speech. How awesome is that! The Oak Lodge was one of the most beautiful venues I have ever seen - I will post more photos in a few days. If you are getting married in PA and want a rustic wedding, that's the place to do it. Jenn and Stephen - thank you for being so welcoming to Jenny and I and congratulations!
A few weeks ago I photographed Christie`s and Dan`s beautiful wedding. I was a second-shooter for my friend Jenny Karlsson, so for the full story, check out her blog post. And by the way, having a country band play at your wedding is one of the awesomest (not sure if that`s even a word) things I`ve ever seen!
A few weeks ago Katia Forero and I photographed Rachel`s and Jason`s wedding at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh. This was one of the most unusual weddings I had to photograph. Most wedding photoshoots begin with the bride getting ready, hanging out with bridesmades, getting their hair and makeup done. Rachel and Jason decided to start their wedding with a 5K run on the River trail on the North Side. And the most amazing thing is that about 60 people from the wedding (including the entire bridal party) ran or walked with them. The wedding itself was beautiful and elegant and Katia and I had a blast working with both the bride`s and the groom`s family. All the bridal "getting ready" photographs and the beautiful shots inside the Pittsburgh bus below were taken by Katia - I could not have captured this amazing day without her help.
This is by far my favorite "first look" sequence I`ve ever shot to date!
A few weeks ago Daniella and I drove to South Carolina for my baby sister`s wedding. It has been years since I`ve been to a wedding in a non-photographer capacity and I have never had the opportunity to walk the bride down the isle. The whole trip had been amazing - I got to hang out with my family, I watch my little sister get married to a man she really really loves and spend a lot of one-on-one time with my daughter. Daniella has been great throughout the entire trip - she uncomplainingly toughed out a 13-hour car trip, 3 nights in a hotel and a lot of strangers trying to pinch her cheeks. Unfortunately I did not have a chance to take a lot of photos - my hands were full with a 3-year-old and in any event I thought that it would be incredibly rude for me to get into Olga`s and Roger`s wedding photographer`s way. Olga and Roger had a beautiful outdoor ceremony at the Silver Coast Winery in North Carolina; during the ceremony Roger sang Justin Bieber`s "Baby, baby" for Olga - the video of his performance actually made it to justinbieberzone.com.