I am an avid Offbeat Bride reader, and have been since I started planning my own wedding way back in 2007. I keep coming back because I love the community here, along with the other Offbeat Wives who still read after their weddings. I love weddings, obviously, and I love learning about people's cultures and subcultures, and I really love the respectful tone and intelligent level of commentary and discussion that Ariel, Megan, and the rest of the team work so hard to maintain.
But this also means I really have my finger on the pulse of what Offbeat Bride readers want, and I am especially in tune with what they are worried about. I read the same articles you do — the guest posts from Mike Allebach particularly have me punching the air with agreement! — so I know that Offbeat Bride readers are really debating going back and forth between having a friend take their photos and a vendor. I so get this — I started shooting weddings for friends way back in 2000 when I was majoring in photography.
That's why I try to offer the best of both worlds. I strive for the same sense of warmth and authenticity that you'd have working with a friend who really *gets* you. I just also have thorough contracts, a full set of backup gear, an extensive network of assistants and backup for emergencies, great insurance, studio management software, and a defined workflow with hard deadlines as to when you'll get your pictures.
For people who decide that the cons outweigh the pros when it comes to working with a friendor, here's how I shoot weddings like a friend…
First, ease your fraudtography worries
You can easily check me out. Do a reverse image search. Ask to see full weddings. Google me. Every single wedding that you see on my blog and my website are real people on real wedding days with real budgets, bodies, and time constraints.
Tell me whatever you're into: religion, culture, style, etc…
If it's not my culture or subculture, I will educate myself about it thoroughly. I had a bride that is a bad-ass ecofeminist with a passionate love of Judaism who had a wedding with all of the Orthodox customs, from a meaningful bedecken (where the bride and groom takes a moment before the ceremony to affirm, “Yes, it's really me, right here, loving you and seeing you and choosing us, with nothing between us,” before lowering the veil) straight through to post-meal prayers.
Then, it was important to her to spent a few moments in solitude with her prayerbook. So I'm sure to be there, documenting it discreetly and loving it all. Afterward the bride told me, “You know, when you plan an Orthodox wedding, everyone says, ‘you need to hire an Orthodox vendor; otherwise, they just don't get it. You really, really get it.'”
This bride is very proud of her ink (each flower and symbol represents a different, meaningful person in her wedding party, who were not coincidently in her wedding party). This pose shows that off, but I love the love between them, too.
Are you nerds who want to do an engagement session at ComicCon? Psst… this Whovian couple is wearing my husband's fez and holding our Doctor Who sonic screwdrivers for this shot. (We had ours with us; they didn't that day.)
Then let's even talk about your Pinterest boards
As much as I like making my own dark, geeky, tongue-in-cheek version of a WIC-y “Must Take!” fad, you know, I get the appeal of Pinterest, too. I see what inspires my clients, and you know what? If there's a photo you just love? Maybe something went viral during your wedding planning and became an inside joke between you and your sweetie. Now you really kind of want it for yourself… talk to me, I'm up for it.
Finally, it doesn't hurt to have a special deal
OFFBEAT DISCOUNT: Offbeat Bride readers save 15% when they book with a contract and retainer by January 20, 2014. (Psst: Between friends, the 2015 prices go into effect on January 1, so you'll get the best deal if you book by midnight on December 31, 2014.)
At the end of day, the secret to my friendly success is about combining artistry and your passions and quirks with kindness, professionalism, and affordability.
And at the end of the day, YOUR secret to friendly photographer success is to hook up with Angie Gaul!