Today’s photographer interview is with Alfredo of Couture Bridal Photography based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Enjoy!
Tell us a bit about yourself and your company.
I’m Alfredo Valentine, owner and principal photographer of Couture Bridal Photography located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I was born and raised in Foret Hills, Queens, NY. I have been involved with photography since the age of 16, but never considered taking photography serious enough to make a business of it. I moved to Florida and was a Police Officer for 10 years and then switched to Fire Rescue where I became a Firefighter/Paramedic.
Read the full interview after the cut!
I follow and am influenced by wedding photography greats Jerry Ghionis, Yervant, David Beckstead, Joe Buissink, Roberto Valenzuela and Cliff Mountner. I take a unique fashion forward look at wedding photography and provide by brides and grooms with dynamic, fun and artistic wedding photography.
I have also taken steps to be affordable by working out of my home where potential clients can come and meet with me, see my GraphiStudio photo books that I use exclusively, and have the ability to get to know me. I feel that sitting with me and getting to know each other over coffee, wine, or beer is more important than talking about prices, rates, and business in general. After all, they came to see me and sit with me in my living room after visiting my website and calling me.
I am available for wedding assignments anywhere in the United States, US Virgin Islands, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. I offer special rates for the ability to travel to new locations, and am especially familiar with New York City and Puerto Rico where I have roots and visit often.
How did you get into wedding photography?
A police officer friend of mine was at my home in 2009 and saw some of my images on my computer. He had no clue I was into photography and was the first person to tell me I should do something with my hobby. He asked if I was willing to photograph his wedding a few months later. I told him I had never done a wedding, but he insisted. The photos from his wedding impressed all his guests and I started getting calls to shoot weddings from the guests. I fell in love with wedding photography from that point on.
The ability to blend many different genres of photography in a day, under changing and challenging light and weather conditions appeal to me. It’s an interesting work out. I also provide my bride with a very different experience that is fun and dynamic. My couples are always happy with their images, and more so with their GraphiStudio photo books. My couples help design the layout of their books with me via Go to Meeting or Skype from the convenience of their home. I provide a very personalized service, and I help them with anything and everything from the minute they hire me all the way to designing their photo books.
What is your favorite part of the wedding day to capture?
My favorite part of the wedding day by far is the ceremony. I get caught up in the moment myself and I love the photojournalistic aspect of the moment. I’m capturing raw moments and looking for the moments in between the moments. I’m also capturing the emotion of the couple’s parents and family. By far the ceremony itself take the cake!
What is the most awkward moment you’ve experienced while on the job?
Not long ago I was hired to photograph a wedding at a venue in Deerfield Beach, Florida. The venue is located in a strip mall loaded with stores and surrounded by a parking lot. It’s located over the bridge from a picturesque beach within walking distance, but the bride and groom aren’t beach people and did not want any beach pictures. There were no parks or anything close for any really nice photos, but I was determined to get some beautiful posed images for their photo book. I walked around to the back of the venue and there was nothing but an alleyway with garbage cans and containers, but there was this beautiful yellow wall and a sun setting in line with the alley.
I took the couple to the alley, and in 10 minutes, I captured some of the best images I have ever captured using the wall and photographing them from low to high with the sun setting in the background. The venue was also a disaster with mixed lighting. The ceremony area was lit from the ceiling with Fluorescent lighting, the walls had sconces with incandescent lighting with sunlight coming in from the rear window. This was awkward and so challenging to give the couple properly white balanced images, but I pulled it off!
What’s the best thing you ever ate at a wedding?
I am a huge fan of Prime Rib and lobster tails.
What is your favorite venue and why?
My favorite venue is Grande Oaks Golf club in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Not only am I a preferred photographer there, but I’m getting married there April 18th 2015. It really is beautiful. The grounds are gorgeous, Large Oak trees, a beautiful bridge is located over the waterway that runs through the golf course, and the clubhouse is beyond beautiful inside and out. Grande Oaks is a fun place to photograph a wedding, and the ability to take the couple around to do photos before, during and after the ceremony is easy. I’m still working on trying to fully implement the whole main lobby to its potential. Some parts of the Movie Caddy Shack was also filmed there!
Nikon or Canon?
I am a Canon user. My first camera was a Canon and that’s what I’ve stuck with ever since. People ask me all the time what’s better. There is no better. It’s like Ford or Chevy owners, you just grow up with one, and that’s what you stick with. They both make incredible cameras and lenses, and always one up each other every year or so. A loyal Canon owner I am!
What is your dream location to shoot a wedding?
This is a hard one. I shoot weddings all over the Caribbean and have been to Hawaii a few times. My dream location to photograph a wedding would have to be anywhere in Greece. My second choice would be my home town of New York City in St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
If you could shoot any celebrity wedding (past, present or future), who would be the lucky couple?
This is a tough question. I would love to photograph any celebrity. I did do a Christmas day photo session in a mansion in Miami Beach a few years ago for Philip Lawrence though. He is the co-writer, and producer with CeeLo-Green and Bruno Mars. His family was incredible and they would break into song spontaneously. I can say that Philip Lawrence can sing as good or better than Bruno Mars. I heard him live and in person and his brother isn’t bad either.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned, and would pass along to other new wedding photographers just getting started?
My advice would be to have fun, be unique and most off all, be flexible. You’re not always going to land the $3000 or $4000 wedding, so when someone on a tight budget comes around, work with them, do a great job and have fun doing it. I have gotten more work from other people at weddings where I lowered my price to meet a couple’s budget and have fun doing it. The secret is I didn’t compromise the quality.
Also keep in mind there are thousands of great photographers, some that may be better at various aspects of photography, but couples aren’t always looking for the most artsy, most technically proficient or greatest photographer. They want someone they can have fun with, spend time with and most importantly, be comfortable with. When I meet with couples in my home gallery, we typically don’t talk photography. They saw my website and liked what they saw, but just really want to get to know me. I’m fun, I’m friendly, and I become a part of the family. After all, they are in my home. Keep in mind that this is their most special day, and they want a friend to capture every moment, not a photographer they don’t feel comfortable interacting with.
Thanks Alfredo! For more about Couture Bridal Photography, please visit his WeddingLovely Vendor Guide profile or head straight to his website.
Do you have any questions or comments for Alfredo? Add them to the comments below!