featured image: Brian Jarreau Photography
WRITTEN + STYLED BY: Rena Sweeney, Owner/Designer, Alchemy Events
ON LOCATION: The Parlor at The Pontchartrain
FLORIST: Mitch’s Flowers
CAKE: Gambino’s Bakery
RENTALS: True Value Rental
AGATE NAPKIN RINGS: Earth Stone Treasures
Over the last 20 years, many things about the wedding industry have changed, but one thing that has remained constant is that each new couple that hires me finds themselves overwhelmed by the options available to them and unsure how to narrow down their vendor search. They are usually looking for my professional opinions to guide them. Planning a wedding is a learning process for most couples. I’m here to help.
With so many photographers showing beautiful photos on social media, who they’re hiring to document their day is often one of the hardest decisions for couples to make. How can you discern differing styles and what should you look for? How can you possibly know who the best fit is for your wedding?
I typically start each of my couples’ photography search off by narrowing down if they like bright and airy photographs or more of a dark style that plays with shadows and lighting. Sometimes they prefer a middle ground or like photos that are more vibrant with lots of color. Then we discuss whether they prefer more traditional photographs or styles where absolutely nothing is posed. Even posed photos can be traditional or more reminiscent of a fashion editorial. Once I have an idea of their style, I can make recommendations that fit within their preferences.
If you don’t have a coordinator to help you sort through the options, then any photographer that you might be interested in should be able to provide you with a complete gallery of images from at least one wedding so you can get an idea of what to expect if you hire them. Looking at a whole wedding gives a cohesive overview of the entire day and you’ll see the big picture rather than just the “best of” that you’ll get in a social media feed.
As in any art form, photographic style is very specific to the individual artist; the finished product will vary based on how the photographer approaches the shoot, their personality, the angles they choose, what equipment they use and how they edit. Since wedding photos are art that will be part of a couple’s lives forever, hanging in their home and their connection to their wedding day memories, I encourage couples to select a photographer who really speaks to their own style.
In order to give some insight into the world of photography, we decided to create an “experiment” to demonstrate how different photographers would each, uniquely, capture the same event.
As in any art form, photographic style is very specific to the individual artist; the finished product will vary based on how the photographer approaches the shoot, their personality, the angles they choose, what equipment they use and how they edit.
We chose a beautiful setting – The Parlor at The Pontchartrain Hotel – with controlled lighting (i.e. no changing outdoor light affecting the room and thus the photographs) and styled a luxurious reception with the help of Mitch’s Flowers, True Value Rental, Gambino’s Bakery, InvitoBella and Earthy Stone Treasures.
We invited four top-notch photographers to participate in our experiment and each was given one hour to complete a brief shot list we provided. The setting remained the same for each photographer and they were asked to capture the scene in their respective styles. The photographers were asked to bring in whatever lighting and gear they would normally bring to a wedding and edit the images in their style.
When styling the decor, we took inspiration from The Parlor itself and wanted to accentuate the beauty of the space. Keeping it natural but modern, we incorporated modern elements with organic details. Mitch’s Flowers continued the magnolia theme from the venue’s dazzling feature wall and added magnolia leaf arrangements to the backs of the Napoleon ghost chairs from True Value Rental. The feature wall mural has some sparkle to it, so we also incorporated sequin linens for the main table to tie in that beautiful shimmer to the design. True Value Rental’s acrylic cake stand tied in perfectly with the overall look; Mitch’s was able to arrange flowers and greenery inside and create a stunning display of flowers beneath the cake. InvitoBella followed the sleek, modern theme with the invitation suite and added a hand painted magnolia envelope liner motif to bring in a soft, elegant touch that also tied in with the magnolia-themed mural.
I think the best part about this shoot is that when I look at each set of photos, I am thrilled with them! They’re all just so stunning, yet distinctly different. Some of the photographers brought in their own lighting; some relied just on the available lighting in the space. For each shot requested, we can see how each of them approached it differently both in composition as well as lighting and the angles they chose. I love seeing how each of the photographers interpreted the space differently and yet still provided amazing photos that spoke to each of their own artistic styles.
Compare for yourself below!
About Amin Russell
Amin has been shooting for over 20 years and brings a “bold, dramatic, big, and cinematic” style to his wedding photography. His ideal client is independent, a thrill seeker, knows what she wants and appreciates art.
Amin’s advice to couples is to meet the photographer before the wedding; “it’s one thing to like a photograph, but you need to gel with your photographer,” he shares.
About Brian Jarreau
Brian has been a photographer for 10 years and originally swore he’d never be a wedding photographer, but, as he jokes, “It turns out I’m pretty good at it.”
His style and approach is very organic. “I just let things happen. I am very laid back, not super formal,” he says. His ideal client is “funnier than I am,” he says. “I know I’m a good fit if I can joke around with the client.”
Brian’s advice to couples is to actually TALK to potential photographers and not just email or text. He stresses that communication is extremely important and to get to know potential photographers based not only on their work but also their reviews.
About Trent Spann
Trent has been shooting for 48 years after being introduced to photography by his father. Trent describes his style as “timeless.” Trent loves it when he “clicks” with a potential client and says he’s interviewing potential clients as much as they’re interviewing him. “It’s the bride’s most important day of her life and I want to make her feel special. I treat her like she’s my daughter or sister,” he shares. “I want to be like part of your family by the end of the day.”
Trent encourages couples to research the style of photos they want (just like any major purchase). He encourages couples to consider not only their budget and the style of work, but also “interview and look at personality and make sure [the photographer’s] blends with yours.”
About Ryan Swanson
Ryan is one half of The Swansons, a husband and wife team, that has been in business for almost 10 years. “I discovered a love and passion about documenting people’s lives,” he shares. “It’s my way of leaving a little bit of history in the world.”
“People say our style is dark and moody, but it’s not. We shoot it ‘as is’, how it happened and try not to fake anything. It’s as real as it can get,” says Ryan.
The Swansons’ ideal clients are people who “just want to have fun at their wedding and party and be with their people.”
Ryan’s advice to couples is to “just let go and have fun!”