Today’s wedding photographer interview is with P.J. Oswald of Fits and Stops Photography, based in Sacramento, CA!
Tell us a bit about yourself and your company
The name. It always starts with the name: “So, why Fits and Stops?” they ask. My family had saved our pennies for a long-awaited trip to Scotland. Knowing just how beautiful the green and gray landscape would be, we purchased our first DSLR camera. I wasn’t all that interested, actually, as my wife Erica was the one who’d taken photography classes in high school. But once I got my hands on the camera—photographing the castles and closes of Edinburgh—I just couldn’t set it down. And neither could I set it down once we returned home to Sacramento. I was hooked.
Read the full interview after the cut!
At that point, I didn’t have a clue how photography would impact my future. I started taking the camera with me everywhere, no matter how mundane the errand. I launched a photography blog where I poured an ungodly number of hours into my photos after coming home from my day job. Obsessed? Yep. Then the first clients came knocking on my door. I photographed them and sought out ways to fit in more photo gigs on the side.
In other words, I was diving in deeper with photography, failing to see that my hobby was becoming more and more my profession with every click. I was hurdling toward my photography career in fits and starts (look up that old expression, why don’t ya?). And because in photography, light is measured in stops, I eventually landed on the name Fits and Stops. That, and because nobody else on the internet was using that name.
Today, my wife and I team up to capture weddings with a concern for seizing those emotion-packed moments. We also make textured and lively portrait images, whether with natural lighting or creative use of flash. Whatever we capture, we edit images with timeless and natural color. And we’re total geeks.
I’ve officiated around 10 weddings, served as groomsman several times, and even played guitar in a handful. Of course, I’ve attended plenty as a guest. I found that I enjoyed weddings so much more when I could contribute something to make the day sweeter or more meaningful. Yeah, I’m one of those task-oriented males.
So, when a coworker invited me to photograph her wedding (what was she thinking?), I jumped at the chance. I was far more eager than I was afraid to try my hand at chronicling such an important day. After living through the wedding day and even enjoying the breakneck pace, I knew that I wanted to specialize in wedding photography. It didn’t hurt that my friend and her husband loved their photos.
What is your favorite part of the wedding day to capture?
It’s a toss-up between the getting ready shots and the “sunset sneakout”. Crazy, emotional, interesting things happen when the bridal party is getting themselves ready. Tears are flowing, honesty is gushing, anxiety is palpable, and laughter is plentiful. More than any other time of the day, I get to see the bride and groom with their hair down. Or up, if the bride so chooses.
The sunset sneakout is a chance to steal away the bride and groom from the reception for some portraits in the best light of the day. It lets me be creative with our posing and lighting, and gives me a chance to see the newlyweds free of anxiety since the ceremony is already wonderful memory.
While walking with a bride and groom across a crowded cobblestone street, my camera fell off a tripod to the ground six feet below. It landed with a terrible crack that drew horrified looks from everyone around, especially the bride and groom who must’ve wondered if photography had ended for the day.
I sheepishly picked up my camera and replaced the battery that had burst out upon impact. I hit the on switch and the screen came to life. I snapped a quick picture or two. And then about 100 of us sighed with relief as it seemed all was well…albeit with a handsome dent in that camera. This is one more reason we bring multiple cameras to each wedding shoot!
That’s The Firehouse Restaurant in Old Sacramento. The place is bricked out to the nines, with ivy growing across the walls of what is one of my favorite courtyards. It offers plenty of space for outdoor and indoor dining, and the food is spectacular. The fact that it sits in the heart of Old Sacramento means that I can capture portraits along the river, on a bridge, or in gold-rush era city streets is a definite bonus.
Nikon or Canon?
That’d be Nikon.
What is your dream location to shoot a wedding?
Right back where my love affair with photography started: Scotland. Specifically, the Isle of Skye. Please, please, please.
Um, pretty much any Scottish celebrities, for reasons mentioned above. So maybe Sean Connery’s wedding? And since he got married in 1975, I’d need to borrow your WeddingLovely time machine.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned, and would pass along to other new wedding photographers just getting started?
The biggest compliment you can be paid is that you made the wedding day easier for the bride and groom. That said, avoid asserting your ego and your grand designs for the day, and look for ways to serve the people around you. This will also help diffuse stressful situations that will pop up throughout the day.
What tips or advice can you give to couples who are looking to hire a photographer to cover their big day?
Ensure that your photographer is not only skilled at taking pictures but also a natural-born listener who can receive what you say and respond well. This will ensure you receive images that exceed your expectations. You can get a feel for this by spending time with the photographers on your shortlist before signing any contracts.
Thanks, P.J.! For more information about Fits and Stops Photography, please visit their WeddingLovely Vendor Guide profile.
Do you have any questions or comments for P.J.? Add them to the comments below!