Partnership Series: Working with Wedding Photographers

Last month, Betsy introduced our Industry Partnership Series, in which we're focusing on the ways that we work with different wedding vendors and creative partners. If you missed Kristin's post on venues, check it out here. Today, I'm excited to chat photography with two exceptionally talented professionals, Gayle Brooker and Lucy Cuneo. Gayle and Lucy are both based in the beautiful low country, in Charleston, South Carolina, but like us, they both travel extensively and document destination weddings. You can find them photographing some of the loveliest wedding celebrations worldwide. Grab a cup of coffee and settle in to read this insight from these two! 

What is it about weddings that excites you most as an artist?

LUCY: I love photographing weddings because of the the mix of emotions, excitement, and anticipation, and all the beautiful tactile elements. Spending time with happy families always reminds me of the importance of marriage and it is a pleasure to share in and capture everybody’s joy. I particularly love putting together the visual story of the day afterwards, it’s very satisfying! 

I love knowing that Lucy enjoys putting the visual story together, because it so closely mirrors the way that I approach designing the wedding on the front end of the process. If you're reading this and planning a wedding - know that this is important. Cohesive visual storytelling really matters. Your vendor team should be on the same page about this! 

GAYLE: As an artist, the most inspiring shots from a wedding are those in-between imperfect moments. When my bride and groom are moving from one place to the next, metaphorically and literally. It is through these transitions of families and spaces when they become lost in the moment of their day and filled with emotions. I find happiness in the middle of the movement and sometimes chaos, as well as pulling back into the shadows for the quiet calm moments. In that duality I find a necessary balance and fulfillment as an artist.

Gayle, this is so lovely! There is so much beauty in movement and so much joy in the chaos on a wedding day. What a thoughtful approach to document those often forgotten opportunities. 

What do you wish that wedding planners and/or their clients knew about your work before they reach out to you? 

GAYLE: The first thing they should know about me, which translates in my work, is that I am easygoing with a laid back joyful vibe, but also very hard working. I am coming from years of experience with shooting weddings, working in the NYC commercial/editorial photography world, and a lengthy fine art school training. With that experience comes knowledge and confidence to produce a solid body of work. Trust is so important to me when I am shooting a wedding. Trust that I can capture all the ‘necessary’ shots as well as make a few artistic shots that to me reflect the true energy and feel of the wedding. Through my portfolio and built reputation, I have been lucky that the majority of my clients get it and give me the trust and the freedom to do my work.

LUCY: That’s such a great question — we mostly work with planners who know us quite well and who can explain to the client that the wedding photographer is somebody with whom you should feel very very comfortable. We really strive to make our brides (and grooms) feel completely at ease and looked after. That relaxation translates into the best, most natural and authentic photographs. 

Couldn't agree more. Trust is everything! Our clients rely on us to help them select the very best team of professionals for their weddings and it's a responsibility we take very seriously. Ultimately, we're asking our clients to (a) trust our judgment in selecting this team and guiding them to make important hiring decisions, and (b) trust the professionals we recommend. Trust translates to comfort, and that makes a world of difference - especially in photographs! 

How do you feel your work is strengthened when your clients work with a full service planner/production team? Does that translate to a better experience for your clients, and if so, how?

GAYLE: Hands down, I love working with a full service planner for many reasons. Organization on a wedding day is paramount and that is one thing that a planner does best. Not only do they keep the flow of the wedding running smoothly, they are quick to address and resolve any issues that may arise. They also guide you to select the best team for your wedding day and it truly is a team effort. They deal with all the vendors to make sure that your ideas, desires, and dreams all come to fruition which in turn, makes my job all the better. I love photographing the built vision from my clients and the wedding planner from the beautifully decorated room to the tiniest of details. It is this symbiotic relationship that strengthens my work.

LUCY: Full service planners make a wedding day happen. It’s so difficult to visualize how the day will unfold as somebody who has never done it before, and full service planners take a dream to reality — it’s critical. We actually try not to take on weddings without full service planners these days because we know that if we’re working with a team like Rebecca Rose Events, they will deliver the dream to the client and we can photograph it.  In the past, we have worked with couples without a planner and they are disappointed in the photographs because something didn’t look the way they anticipated. It’s totally heart breaking for us because, while we try to help with styling on the day, at a certain point, there isn’t much we can do.  I highly recommend working with a full service planner!!

Preach it ladies! Friends, I didn't coach or ask them to say any of this. When photographers believe so strongly in the value of an investment into a full service planning, design and production approach - that speaks volumes. 

Lucy and Gayle, thank you for taking the time to share this insight with our readers!