Interview with Daria, A Wedding Photographer in Seattle and Las Vegas
Welcome, Daria! Please introduce yourself and Artsy Daria Photography to our readers
Hi! I’m Daria and I started Daria Artsy Photography in 2008. I remember the exact moment I decided to go into wedding photography. I photographed a friend’s wedding as a favor and discovered I loved the challenge.
I also loved the interaction with the bridal party and their guests and being a part of the day’s proceedings. In a nutshell, the whole experience enthralled and excited me. By the day’s end, I knew that wedding photography was my calling.
While that friend’s wedding was the catalyst for my professional aspirations, I wasn’t exactly a “kid with a camera and a dream” when I first started. My educational background is in graphic design. I studied graphic design at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and was taking photography classes in College of Southern Nevada.
“All of my clients ask me what style I am shooting in. I call it illustrative style. It is a mix of styles… mix and match depending on the couple’s wedding style and personalities."
Even though I was eager to get started in my new venture, I had no illusions about the tough side of the business and didn’t burn my bridges before venturing into becoming one of professional Las Vegas wedding photographers. I did my homework – I researched other Las Vegas wedding photographers and then initiated a part-time wedding photography business while continuing to work as a graphic designer. The part-time wedding business grew to such an extent that about two years later I stepped out into a full-time wedding and portrait photography and hasn’t looked back since.
How would you describe your photo style?
All of my clients ask me what style I am shooting in. I call it illustrative style. For those less familiar with different photography styles, let me explain… Illustrative photography style is really a mix of styles. You won't get just documentary or only traditional images. It is a mix and match depending on the couple’s wedding style and personalities.
Rather than constantly having you pose for your pictures, I follow you and your guests throughout the wedding day, capturing events as they unfold in order to tell the story of your wedding. My goal is to fade into the background and become “invisible” to the crowd in order to get these candid shots.
“To make sure every detail of the shots is perfect, my assistants and I not only adjust our equipment, but also the background, the subject’s body alignment, and even the attire. "
In addition, I photograph in the traditional style as well to make sure you and your families get photographs to frame. Usually we have dedicated time for the traditional portrait session. I work from a “shot list,” ensuring we cover all the elements the bride and groom have requested.
To make sure every detail of the shots is perfect, my assistants and I not only adjust our equipment, but also the background, the subject’s body alignment, and even the attire. Couples interested in a more edgy result may prefer Fine Art Portraiture techniques. This style is known for dramatic lighting, unique angles and European flavor.
I also do editorial photographs - images of the venue, locations, rings, flowers, table setups, all the fun details.
My illustrative style is a pleasing blend of traditional and photojournalistic, with an emphasis on composition, lighting and background. Illustrative style captures some of the spontaneity of candid shots, while offering the traditional images as well.
“The most basic fact is that no photographer can be in two places at once (I know, I’ve tried). And there are certain moments during a wedding when you really want to be in two places at once."
Do you recommend a second photographer at the wedding?
There are a lot of reasons to have a second photographer at the wedding. Here are a few:
Two Photographers, Two Places
The most basic fact is that no photographer can be in two places at once (I know, I’ve tried). And there are certain moments during a wedding when you really want to be in two places at once. For example, if the bride and groom are in separate places while getting ready, the second photographer can hang out with the groom while the main photographer is with the bridal party.
Two Photographers, Two Vantage Points
Two photographers allow for different angles, different lenses, and different viewpoints of the same scene. This is one of the biggest reasons I love having a second shooter.
There are so many times when I want my camera pointed in two directions during a big wedding moment! For example, I often focus on the expression on the bride’s face as she walks down the aisle and have my second shooter capture the groom’s face as he sees her for the first time.
I work with fixed prime lenses because I think they produce the most beautiful images, but when something is happening quickly, like the bride putting on her dress or the first kiss, I have to choose to between making a tighter shot or a wide one because I can’t zoom in and out simultaneously. With a second shooter, one of us can photograph that lovely tight shot as the dress is zipped up, while the other can be positioned to capture a wide shot focusing on the bride’s, family members and bridal party’s expressions.
You’ve hired your lead photographer because you trust in their artistic vision and wedding experience, but having a second photographer just brings another perspective and another creative eye to best tell the story of your wedding day.
Cocktail Hour, Candid Photos and Details
The hour after the ceremony is usually the time having a second photographer is key. Some portion of this time is usually dedicated to making couple’s portraits, and the lead photographer can’t be at the cocktail hour also capturing fun party candid photos. Your closest friends are all dressed up and celebrating your wedding, it’s definitely worth having someone there to photograph that!
“For me, customer satisfaction comes first and foremost. So, my wedding photoshoot is not a set of rules; its flow derives from the personal needs of the couple."
Besides the cocktail hour, the lead photographer has so many shots they need to get, that it can be difficult to also grab a ton of candid shots and details throughout the day, whereas the second photographer can focus on these almost exclusively. So, having a second photographer is particularly important for couples who have invested a lot of time, thought and love into all the details of their wedding day and couples who appreciate a candid, documentary approach to photography.
A Happy, Calm, Hydrated Lead Photographer
Yup, here’s my selfish reason! Having a second shooter makes the lead photographer (me!) feel calmer throughout the day. It’s like having someone on your team, someone supporting you and helping you to do your absolute best work.
I know there are some photographers out there who maybe prefer working alone, and I can definitely shoot a wedding on my own if a couple decides not to add a second photographer, but having someone who will run to the cocktail hour to grab grandmother for family photos, who will carry my bag if I need to quickly move somewhere else for a shot, who I can trust to complement my work with lots of beautiful candid and detail shots makes me happier and calmer throughout the day! And usually my second shooters remind me to drink water, which also turns out to be pretty useful.
Double the Photographers, Double the Coverage: You just get more photography coverage on your wedding day. Which is awesome! Period. End of story.
Can you share some tips for couples interviewing a wedding photographer?
Couples should definitely meet the photographer in person! Make sure to:
- Ask your photographer to bring some products to the meeting.
- Ask about the style and work flow.
- Ask about the gear they use (camera, lenses, flashes, etc.)
- Ask who the second shooter is.
- Make notes. Do research at home afterword.
If you like your wedding photographer’s personality, you should schedule an engagement photo session to make sure you like spending time with this person, feel relaxed and natural next to this stranger and like the final result of the engagement photoshoot.
“In 30 years, [your] kids or grandkids can hopefully look at the images from the wedding and have some insight into the personality of their parents or grandparents."
How does a typical wedding photoshoot go?
For me, customer satisfaction comes first and foremost. So my wedding photoshoot is not a set of rules, its flow derives from the personal needs of the couple.
When the first contact inquiry hits my inbox I will reply with a list of questions for the bride about herself and the wedding day including styles, themes, budget for photography and expectations.
Generally speaking, every wedding day has 4 “acts”: getting ready, ceremony, cocktail hour, and banquet.
My only criteria for the wedding day is that formal pictures cannot happen during the cocktail hour, and they either must be before it, or before the ceremony. I feel like formal pictures and the details in the cocktail hour are too important to rush through.
When should the couple schedule their engagement session?
A few things to consider:
“What do you want to use the engagement photos for?”
If you want to use the photos for a Save the Date, It’s best to book your engagement session at least 8 or 9 months before your wedding date!
“How long is your photographer’s processing time?”
Depending on who your photographer and designer are for the Save the Dates, it takes time to process your photos and design & print the Save the Dates! Save the Dates are typically sent out 6 months in advanced for those who need to travel! I would suggest this same timeline if you’re doing a Photobook that serves as a guest book! Of course, if you ran out of time, you may be able to rush-order both! But keep in mind that it may cost more!
If you’re not doing that and just using it for invitations, it’s best to get them done at latest 6-7 months in advanced. Again, depending on your photographer & the processing time, it gives you time to get them printed and put into your invitations, which are usually sent out two months prior to your wedding! If you’re just printing the photos separately from your actual invitations, you can get away with having them taken 4-5 months in advanced, but the sooner the better!
Of course if you’re getting them done solely for wedding decorations, you can postpone them back to 3-4 months in advanced, but that’s certainly cutting it close! With all this in mind, I recommend getting them done as early as possible so that if anything, you have them ready and usable for whatever you have in mind! :)
“Wedding photography is a lifetime document! Unfortunately, there is only one chance to do it right!"
“What do you want your engagement session to be like?”
If you want something more rustic, or in certain weather conditions, you have to think ahead about the season that is coming up! Plants are usually dead in the winter or in the middle of the summer. If you want snow… well… you’d have to plan ahead to book the engagement session for when there will actually be snow (which is tough if you live in California)!
What clothes do you want to wear? Something warm? Something summery? Fall colors (which I love)? Weather and season can have an effect on these things! So, when you’re planning your engagement session, and thinking about this all, remember the weather and the time changes! They’re things that sometimes we think of last, but can affect our schedule!
”Do you know the photographer you are thinking about investing with?”
It’s understandable that in the chaos of wedding planning, all the major details of your actual day surpass your thoughts on things like photographers, and engagement photos! I would absolutely love for every bride to want to hire me before they think about their venue, wedding dress, catering, wedding cake, etc., but for some reason those details more often than not come first. I wonder why? ;)
If photography is a priority & a desire, but something you can’t decide & fully book with just yet, I do recommend contacting the photographer you are interested in working with! If you are a potential client, the earlier you inquire about my services the better! That way, right off the bat you are aware of my availabilities for bookings for either weddings or engagements.
Many couple are shocked to find that wedding photography typically costs several thousand dollars. Why are the prices so high?
Because wedding photography is a lifetime document! Unfortunately, there is only one chance to do it right!
I’m under no illusion. At the end of the day, it is just another service that’s provided. But at the same time, it’s more than just a photograph or just a service. This is a document of who this couple was! In 30 years, their kids or grandkids can hopefully look at the images from the wedding and have some insight into the personality of their parents or grandparents.
Wedding itself is super important and stressful process. I always shoot with the same second shooter whom I trust and rely on. Once the photos are captured, I begin post wedding work. I never hire third party companies to do postprocessing for me, because it will never look the way I want it.
“Some photographers claim that they will shoot your wedding as it is and provide you with the minimum retouched images that show all the natural beauty. I don’t believe in ‘natural’ look… it’s not pretty to see all the invisible wrinkles, exaggerated ‘love handles’, etc."
First, I will do a rough edit of the RAW images and drop them into folder categories of the day. Then I create a blog post for every wedding within a week of the wedding, so the couple can see some of the photos on their honeymoon. Meanwhile I keep working on editing the files. This might take me up to 40 hours! Once completed, I upload the images to my photo-hosting site. Then, I start designing the album. Being a graphic designer helps a lot!
Some photographers claim that they will shoot your wedding as it is and provide you with the minimum retouched images that show all the natural beauty. I don’t believe in “natural” look those digital high resolutions images can give you. It’s not pretty when you may see all the invisible wrinkles, exaggerated “love handles”, skin shagginess, etc. – all that you don’t really see with a naked eye.
I believe in a good pose and in professional retouch. I don’t mean unnatural pretense and a plastic face with no expression. But soft film days are over and DSLR cameras nowadays have no mercy, with the extremely high resolutions they show you all. That can be pretty upsetting. And that’s not a feeling you want to get from your wedding photographs.
So you see now – when you are paying for the wedding photography, you don’t just pay for 8 hours of work, you pay for at least 50 hours of a photographer’s time and talent plus all the products you get with it.