With all the talent we see on the pages of WeddingPhotoLove, you only see the OTHER side of the lens. You know the one–the side that shows all the pretty pictures. But photographers are people too, and we’d like to start getting to know our vendors. We’ve written a list of questions and are so excited to get this blog series started.
Without further ado, we introduce to you Altared Visions, a wedding photography duo with a passion for candid moments and stylish portraits. Thank you Pam and James for being our first interview!
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your company?
James and I met on The Hideout Photography forum (re-opening soon!) back in 2008 or so. James was living in Arizona and noticed that I lived in the same city as his parents and sent me a message. We kept in touch through the forum while both of our marriages fell apart simultaneously. When James found himself divorcing and needing change, he decided to move here and give life of the East Coast a shot. We agreed to get together and shoot for fun when he got here, and shoot we did! We started with “photo safaris” around the South Coast of MA, followed by planning “model parties” with other photographers and make up artists. I asked James to second shoot a wedding with me as I’d been doing them on my own for about a year and was happy to have the help. It only took one wedding to bring us together permanently! Suddenly work became fun and we began to discuss what we wanted to bring to wedding photography. The answer was then, and remains today: FUN. Altared Visions is now approaching its third year and we couldn’t be happier doing what we do.
2. How did you get into wedding photography?
Both of us came to wedding photography with a degree of “meh” about it. We both picked up cameras in high school and college and shot friends for years, James with his skateboarding buddies and me with local bands and my kids. James did some commercial work, I dabbled in portraiture and even a little commercial myself. We both knew we wanted to work in photography, but we were sort of aimlessly wandering for a few years. James shot a few weddings before moving here and I had one season under my belt, working for a few hundred dollars per wedding while I was flunking out of art school. After our first wedding together we decided we were looking at wedding photography all wrong. We were going through the motions of what we thought our clients expected when we should have been approaching wedding photography for what it is: ART. What other genre of photography gives you equal parts of portraiture, fashion, candid photojournalism, commercial (detail shots!) and above all, story-telling! Just like that, standard poses and cliche ideas got banned from our shot list and our clients became subjects to tell the world about!
3. What is your favorite part of the wedding day to capture?
I think we both agree that we love shooting “The First Look” best, that’s when the bride and groom see each other before the ceremony for the first time in a usually private location. There’s so much emotion and joy in those few moments, before the chaos of the day kicks in and it’s just that perfect little moment of love. After they’ve seen each other and soaked it all in, we take them for the “fashion shoot” portion of the day in which is always fun and full of laughs. I have an epic catalog of rather hilarious behind-the-scenes shots of James showing Brides how to Vogue-pose…and if he ever gives me flack… ;)
4. What is the most awkward moment you’ve experienced while on the job?
We’ve been pretty fortunate to have some incredible couples and very little in the way of “horror stories” but we have had our share of backing up with an eyeball in the camera and stepping on Granny feet, mixing up names of family members and things like that. I almost lit myself on fire with church candles once and James got a bit of lapdance from an intoxicated guest while snapping a photo from the dance floor. Near self-immolation aside, none of that is so bad!
5. What’s the best thing you ever ate at a wedding?
Ooooh man, that’s a tough one. I’m a vegetarian so half of the time whatever I eat is pretty terrible, the worst being white rice stuffed in a green pepper with three pieces of cauliflower...but some venues really take care of their veggies! The best we’ve had recently was definitely Bittersweet Farm in Westport, who knocked my socks off with their pumpkin ravioli and James’ with their prime rib. So delicious! The food is definitely a perk of our job!
6. What is your favorite venue and why?
We don’t really have any one favorite venue but I can tell you some of our favorites from this year! We shot Kat and Rick’s wedding on the deck of The Odyssey in Boston. The boat itself isn’t the best part, but the surrounding area and view from the deck was amazing. They also rented out The Times bar nearby for a karaoke after party and that place had GREAT atmosphere! Hartman’s Herb Farm in Barre, MA is absolutely beautiful, as was Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, MA. The Whaling Museum in New Bedford, MA is also fantastic to shoot in and around and recently we shot Lauren and Ben’s wedding at The Squantum Association in Barrington, RI and that place is so gorgeous. The best venues have great light and pay attention to things like ceilings (no water-stained drop tile!! ew!) and helpful, friendly staff.
7. Nikon or Canon?
Both! But eventually James is jumping ship to Canon so we can share lenses.
We would both be JUST FINE with doing some destination weddings on tropical islands. Just putting that out there, future clients. Ahem.
9. If you could shoot any celebrity wedding (past, present or future), who would be the lucky couple?
James’ answer to this and most celebrity queries is simply “Christopher Walken.” Not even sure he’s married, but there you go. For me, I recently swooned over the fairy tale themed wedding of Jamie Hince and Kate Moss…she was stunning. Gwen Stefani’s wedding gown alone puts her and Gavin’s on the list, and because I’ll always be a teenaged goth kid at heart, the ill-fated wedding of Marilyn Manson and Dita Von Teese would have been another…she wore a purple gown at an Irish castle! Lastly, True Blood’s Kristin Bauer and Abri van Straten’s (The Lemmings) because they were such a romantic looking couple in a perfect setting.
10. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned, and would pass along to other new wedding photographers just getting started?
Back up your back up and then back them up again! Double check everything and have two of every crucial piece of equipment. I had the photographer’s worst nightmare happen to me when my card reader failed during a transfer and I didn’t realize it until the files were long since formatted and gone. Up until that point, I did all of the formal photography and of course…it was the one card with the formals so even though there were two of us, they were lost. The whole thing was awful. I wanted to quit weddings forever just to avoid that feeling in my gut that I had blown it all forever. Since then we don’t just transfer and back up our photos…we check them to make sure they’re all accounted for and then I back them up to two hard drives at home and use Backblaze to auto-backup online in case something happens to my home and hard drives. Our motto for back ups is “three places or it doesn’t exist”. I also had my camera ERROR 99 just as a bride was walking down the aisle, which if I worked alone would have been a complete disaster. This season’s casualties have included one flash and several smaller pieces of gear. We can’t recommend having a second shooter or partner enough…the worst WILL happen, you WILL make mistakes, so be prepared!
And above all? If you don’t love wedding photography…don’t do it. There’s far too many bitter, miserable weekenders in this field and plenty of newbies eager to take their place and shake up the industry. Wedding photography is not easy money and it should never be something you do just to pay the bills. You’re responsible for documenting one of the most important days a couple will experience and if you approach it moaning you will not only give them mediocre photography, you will taint their special day with your attitude. And that, to us, is unacceptable. If you DO love wedding photography, jump in, be confident, network and support your peers and don’t let anyone tell you what you’re doing is a lesser art.
Thank you again, Pam and James! We had a lot of fun doing this interview. Check out Altared Images on WeddingPhotoLove or hop on over to their website for more eye candy.