There are so many noteworthy parts of today’s interview with Blume Photography: one being that ADORABLE family photo down there and the others being Phillip’s most awkward moment (OMG you will die!) and his super inspiring advice for other photographers. Such great words and photos, thanks Phillip!
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your company.
My wife, Eileen, and I are about as easy-going and fun-loving a pair as you’ll likely meet. Maybe even a little nerdy at times. (We’re hosting our third annual “Lord of the Rings” movie marathon this weekend, if that tells you anything.) But our favorite times are spent outdoors, hiking with our almost two-year-old daughter, Jasmine. (Look out for her; she’s already a pro with her Fisher Price camera.) We also love to travel (which, happily, our job makes possible!) and have at least a couple dozen countries under our belts. When you’ve done a little globe-trotting, you can’t help but develop a taste for great food, which we have. Luckily, we live in a funky little college town that offers tons of yummy organic food — fresh off local farms — and international flavor.
Get the good stuff after the jump…
As a studio, Blume Photography really is a natural extension of ourselves. People know us as a premier studio in our area by reputation, not because we have the fanciest storefront (We work from home) or because we’re the oldest kids on the block (We officially opened just four years ago). Instead, we come from the perspective that creating quality artwork ought to be a fresh, fun, and new experience every time. So we shoot for adventurous and exciting, as well as romantic and nostalgic; we invest time and money in the best art materials, in planning, and in equipment without cutting corners; and most importantly we treat our clients as friends, giving them the easiest, most exceptional experience possible, from first meeting to the final delivery of their original artwork. It takes a lot of effort to be a perfectionist in this business. But we enjoy every minute of it! The journey is its own reward.
2. How did you get into wedding photography?
My first degree was in magazine photojournalism at the University of Georgia. I photographed friends’ weddings to help pay my way through school, and I loved every aspect of it: the excitement of the day, the huge potential for visual story-telling, and the couple’s heartfelt enthusiasm when I delivered the finished artwork. I loved creating art that not only meant something to my friends, but also had the potential to become a cherished link of family history for future generations. So the career was a natural fit. But somehow I didn’t see it at first. After I graduated, Eileen and I got married; I took a job as a high school teacher and helped manage my dad’s retail business. About a year later, a friend asked me if I still shot weddings. So I asked Eileen if she could make a simple Web page to display my portfolio. As usual, she designed something far better than what I had in mind. Next thing we knew, brides began to call and ask if we were available for their weddings. (A few of them were even my former high school students, which made me feel very old.) The rest is history!
3. What is your favorite part of the wedding day to capture?
How can I choose!? Every moment of a wedding day is completely glorious, even the “tragic” moments — you know, when the bride melts down because the wrong flowers show up or the dress won’t zip. I love anything unexpected. Those are the moments that lend texture to the story, real-life personality and humor (even if it doesn’t seem funny at the time). As a new dad, I also find myself getting really choked up when the bride’s father sees her in her dress. I get so misty-eyed I can barely see through the lens. But photographically, I love shooting the couple’s portraits. We generally shoot these before the ceremony, and they include the anticipated “first look” between bride and groom. That’s where we lean most heavily on our magazine-style portraits, and all the pre-planning pays off in epic shots that feature the couple most dramatically.
4. What is the most awkward moment you’ve experienced while on the job?
OK, hands down the weirdest moment I ever witnessed at a wedding. The bride and groom had just been married, and they planned to ceremonially release two doves from a basket that had been sitting nearby. The moment they lifted the lid off the basket and the doves broke out in glorious flight, a hawk came out of nowhere and attacked one of the doves! While everyone stared on in shock, the hawk carried its prey to a nest in the tree everyone was standing under and proceeded to devour it. Bad enough, but the groom’s family were islanders who I think were more concerned about the bad juju. Not a good omen, you know? That was the first wedding Eileen and I shot together, and still nothing beats that story. (Eileen even captured the whole episode in photographs!)
5. What’s the best thing you ever ate at a wedding?
The food is a huge perk of attending so many weddings — even if you do have to scarf it down between shots. They served steak and lobster at resort wedding we shot near Savannah, GA, and the delicious wedding cake was created by a Food Network-featured baker. But our favorite food memory comes from a down home wedding that took place on a family farm: sweet tea, homemade bbq, and all the sultry Southern sides we adore.
6. What is your favorite venue and why?
Currently, I’d have to give that honor to The Inn at Palmetto Bluff in South Carolina. It’s built near the still visible ruins of an old plantation house, and its expansive property reminds me of the untamed South in a Mark Twain novel. You can almost envision Tom Sawyer white-washing the picket fences in front of the residents’ period-style houses. The whole place has a timeless feel and topnotch amenities, which explains the fact that a few celebrities have been drawn there for weddings, too.
7. Nikon or Canon?
I’m a Nikon guy, but not because I have anything against Canon. I bought my first 35mm camera in Australia during the Olympic Games because it was on sale. Over time I collected a number of lenses I couldn’t live without; so I stuck with it. Glad I did, too! Nikon’s been great to us.
8. What is your dream location to shoot a wedding?
We recently accomplished our goal of shooting a wedding in the Philippines, and currently we have our sights set on shooting a wedding in London. We’ve spent a great deal of time in England, and of course the historic backdrops are dazzling. We now have a potential connection to an engaged couple there; so if all goes well, our dream might come true!
9. If you could shoot any celebrity wedding (past, present or future), who would be the lucky couple?
Well, since I’ve already confessed our love for England, I guess I should choose Prince Willy and Kate’s recent wedding. Besides the amazing culture and details surrounding it, the historic nature of the marriage would make it a real treat to photograph. But I’m afraid the royal family might be a little uptight for our fun-loving style.
10. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned, and would pass along to other new wedding photographers just getting started?
Put your family first, and give back to your community. I know that doesn’t sound like photographic advice, but it is. There’s no shame in working hard. In fact, if you want to build a successful studio, you’ll end up investing a lot more time and energy than you ever anticipated. But if you believe in art as a reflection of what’s good in life, you have to be very careful not to prioritize your art above real life. Be there for your spouse. Watch your kids grow up. Use your artistic gifts to make a difference. Eileen and I treasure the experiences we’ve had doing pro-bono projects — shooting a documentary film in Guatemala’s slums, photographing needy families or those who have poured their lives into adoption — more than anything else. It may not earn us a dime, but I believe it makes us richer.