20 years ago when I started shooting weddings, I had a regular Saturday routine. I’d get up, cook a big Saturday morning breakfast of sausage gravy, eggs, hashbrowns and pancakes from scratch. I’d then sit down with Norm Abram to watch This Old House before I went off to shoot a wedding. I grew up in a 90 year old house and as the oldest of 3 sons, I often got to get in on little fix-it projects. And while tinkering with little projects can be fun, it was nowhere near the scope that Tom, Richard, and Roger took on. My wife got a job offer to move from Rockford IL to work at Deaconess Hospital. When we were looking for our next house, we (well I) wanted the full remodelling experience. We were both supportive of each others dreams and desires in this next stage of our lives. One year later with 600 feet of wire, 27 gallons of paint, an additional bath and bedroom and 90 sheets of drywall our home is complete. My 3 kids have all loved taking the sledge hammer even when it was a little heavy for them. It has been great to take some time off from weddings, but it was something I missed. It forms the basis of the family structure and a vow till death do us part. Ask any couple in their 80’s and they will tell you it takes work and commitment to make their relationship work. It’s an honor to be able to see couples come together and build their relationship that expands their family tree for generations to come.
Please take a few minutes to read this interview before hiring Scott to photograph your wedding day.
How long have you photographed weddings and how did you get into the business?
In college I worked for the college paper with an emphasis on being unobtrusive and story telling. I never used flash – I didn’t understand it. I was trained in all aspects of photography even developing film, the old-fashioned darkroom way. I loved every second of it. When it came time to go to state, the Chicago Tribune awarded my coverage with a first place for dailies.
After college, I took a weekend job with a studio which did 150 weddings a year. The pendulum swung 180 degrees, and thou shalt use flash was the word of the day. It didn’t matter how many harsh shadows it created. 90% of the photos taken were set up on the church alter steps. We would take 2 photos of the first dance just in case the bride blinked on the first. There was little creativity, but it filled a need.
As an intern I learned SO much about the business of wedding photography with Memory Lane that it was a bit overwhelming. (Just ask me about the bride who nearly had a nervous breakdown because of an eye infection that morning.) My internship quickly changed into a weekly job, then becoming a second photographer at weddings, and then a primary photographer!
In 2002 my wife graduated from the University of Illinois and it was time to move north. Memory Lane had already made the conversion to digital photography well ahead of the competition so I felt it best for me to go out on my own.
Between photographing countless weddings for other photographers, and the over 300 I have shot under my own name, it’s needless to say I adore shooting weddings! Name a Northern Illinois venue; I have probably shot at it myself, assisted at it, or am dying to work there!
There is a lot of talk about style of photography, where do you fit in?
I consider myself a blend of styles. First of all, I have a bias towards photojournalism. I believe the wedding photographer should capture the day as it naturally occurs and not stage or pose every moment. (Believe it or not, I’ve heard seminar speakers talk of tapping the couple on the shoulder during their first dance so they can smile for the camera.) On the other hand, I do love creative portraits! It is my goal to come away from your wedding with a creative portrait that defines the essence of your wedding day and who you are as a couple. Although this creative portrait is a planned situation, I make it feel like it’s relaxed and has happened spontaneously. I also love wedding details and found objects and feel they too are just as important to capture in order to complete your wedding story. You can say that my photography conforms to contemporary trends but is very expressive at the same time.
How are you to work with on the wedding day?
What a great question! The baker delivers the cake, the organist will play her song, but if either of them woke up on the wrong side of the bed, you’ll never know it. Your photographer on the other hand you’ll be spending a LOT of time with. Do you really want someone who is going to say 100 times, “Look a little happier.” I think the biggest thing that sets me apart from the rest is how much I LOVE what I do! I look on the bright side of life, and I think that reflects back in my work. I have had COUNTLESS guests come up to me at weddings and comment on how much fun I am to work with because it’s just evident that I LOVE what I do! They tell me that I have a great attitude and thank me for being a pleasure to work with. That just makes my heart smile.
I would love to be everywhere at once, but unfortunately I am not superhuman (although I try!). I’ve had pastors ask me, “Were you really laying on the floor in the back of the church during the service?” and then marvel at the image with a unique angle.
One other thing that sets me apart is that I will be a calming influence on your wedding day. I try to lighten the mood when appropriate. There is no need to stress out! At the end of the day, you will still be married to the person of your dreams, so what does it matter if one hair is out of place? I quietly observe the day as it unfolds, document what is happening with my camera, and try to help out if there is any way I can be of assistance. This day is all about you. I’m there to help celebrate in your day and take photos to make these memories last a lifetime.
What about an engagement session? Is that included? And why is it so valuable?
We also offer engagement sessions in every package! This is a great time for us to get to know each other better, and such a fun time in your life. It teaches me how you react to a camera. It shows me whether you like your big laughter filled expressions or something a little more calm.
Some couples opt for a basic in studio session and some will travel to 3 locations. I’ve seen grooms who came to the session, took 6 photos and complained that his cheeks hurt from smiling so much. From here one of 2 things happens on the wedding day. Either he wants only a group photo of the bridal party and the bride is ok with that. OR she has a long talk about the importance of variety in photos and he gets on board for the day of the wedding. Now you can see the importance of getting everyone on the same page as far as photography goes. that is why it’s our little gift to you!
How long will it be before we see our pictures?
This is the best part! Before I retire for the night, I go through and find the gems to put on Facebook. Then 3 days after the wedding you can see everything! Those who tell you they need 6 weeks to make the pictures look good before they go online are silly. Here is the reason. Unless you are in the graphics and visual industry, you don’t have the high tech software to properly set your computers color. What looks good on my screen may or may not look a shade too blue on your monitor from Best Buy. Once your favorites are ordered, I go through and precisely balance the way they look. When seeing the final print next to the calibrated screen it will remind you of the old commercials, “Is it live or is it Memorex.”
What about our album?
I want you to have your book in your hands as fast as you do. Usually before you are back from your honeymoon, I’ve gone through and selected some of my favorites for a complete sample album. Once I email you the link, what I hear back from you is WE ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT! but… take out the dollar dance picture of my moms friend from work, and put in pose 6163 which is me with my favorite uncle dancing instead. Before I did album suggestions it was sometimes 9 months before couples could figure out what they wanted. In 2011 I had 5 couples who received their finished retouched albums in less than 6 weeks. Yes, I still have couples who drag their feet, but they are not the norm.
Do you have any pet peeves?
I don’t like exit signs. It’s not a word you want to associate with your marriage. So when you walk into the banquet hall and there is one over head, I remove it.
Do you do any other types of photography?
What other sessions do you offer?
I love photographing people. I do engagement sessions, post wedding sessions, trash the dress sessions, family sessions, high school senior sessions and even pet sessions. Your first childs first baby portrait is a gift from me. After all, parenthood is a wonderful extension of your marriage.
What type of couples do you work best with?
All of my couples have a true love and admiration for photography. They are successful young professionals who desire creative photography that not just the standard stand over there and smile into the lens approach. My couples are people who know their first priority is to enjoy their wedding day and who want to share all the beautiful moment with family and friends. They are more concerned with the emotional impact of the images and the creativity that I can explore, rather than just having a list of pictures for me to accomplish. My couples understand that this is a once in a lifetime event and want the very best photography.
Who do you not work well with?
This may seem like a harsh statement, but not everyone can work well together. I would love to be able to help everyone in capturing their dream wedding day, but some personalities mesh better than others. If you are a person that gets caught up in a list of everyone you want photographed with you and your new spouse, then you probably need to go with someone of a more traditional style. If you are a bit of a control freak (and let’s face it, there are people like that out there, and this isn’t necessarily bad!) we probably won’t mesh well either.
I have seen certain photos that I absolutely love and would like to try to recreate for my wedding day. Can you do this?
I will try my best. Just please don’t get hung up on this photo and be upset if there is not a couch in a backyard, or a cool lake to take a photo in front of.
Do you work from a check list?
No No No! There are a couple reasons I don’t. First it leaves the feeling in the room a little stale. When working with Memory Lane there were times when couples wanted a checklist and invariably we would stand there calling, Aunt Ruth.. Aunt Ruth… only to find out she’s in the powder room. Did we move on? No! The person who runs the clipboard insists that the best way to make sure everything is covered is to go in this order much to the embarrassment of Ruth who returns to a waiting crowd. To me this constant waiting on the list keeper tends to stifle creativity.
If you have to have a list, my best suggestion is to give it to me and a cousin who can monitor formals and knows better who is your Godmother, and where she should be when. I can assure you, she won’t be wearing a name tag which will make it easy for me to identify her.
Have you missed special pictures because you didn’t have a list?
Yes, but not very often. A pastor once scheduled a wedding at 2pm and his secretary scheduled a Quinceañera at 3pm. At 2:45 when they both wanted the church not many people were happy. In my rush to get all the necessary photos in, I missed a picture of Mom, Dad, Bride and Groom together. OOPS! Before the family saw any photos I took it upon myself to spend over an hour in photoshop the next day to recreate the missed family portrait. No retouching bill was ever sent.
OK Scott, I’m absolutely loving what I am hearing, but I bet this is expensive. Can I afford your services?
ABSOLUTELY. I actually think you can’t afford not to afford it! ? Sure, you probably have some sister’s aunt’s cousin that does photography as a hobby. That’s awesome! Let them bring their camera to the wedding. But can you trust them to take professional photos at your big day?
This day is the biggest day in your new life together as a married couple. These memories are going to live on forever. You need someone that has been at more weddings than they can count to document this day. You are going to show these photos to people that may not have been able to attend your day. I’m not trying to be negative here, but what if your grand dad is sick? don’t you want to be able to show him the pure raw joy that you felt on your day? I’m sure you’re going to have kids down the road. don’t you want them to look at you and say “Gosh, Mom! You were hot!”
There is no way you can’t afford to have memories like these captured forever…
Do you take credit cards? What is your payment plan?
Of course! I accept credit through PayPal, or personal check. We break the payment into installments. The first is due upon signing the contract, the final payment is due a week before the wedding.
Do you take more than one wedding per day?
Oh fun question. When I worked in Champaign, Memory Lane would book up to 3 weddings on a Saturday. It was the 3rd booked couple who saw the trainee who’d been out for just a few weddings. While Mike was a reliable assistant for 5 years before he moved to California, he had also photographed weddings for 4 years prior to us meeting. He was also not the first photographer I took on.
Do you shoot with an assistant?
It depends on what I am shooting. For a wedding video, 2 people is crucial. The priest is not going to wait for me to move the camera angle from the center aisle to the podium to start the next reading. While I may be looking for someones reaction, you need someone whose sole job is to point the camera at the person talking and to capture every word.
In a photo assignment, you need one good photo of the reader who will be at the podium for 3 minutes. If it is taken at the begining or the end of the reading, you will never know. Often even if you would have 2 photographers, there are times when you want them to politely step outside for a moment. Please ask to look at a full wedding and ask, “Is there anything missing from the coverage by one photographer.” You will be hard pressed to say the event looks incomplete. I have seen enough 2 man photography teams to know how often they pair up close together often duplicating their efforts instead of giving a true variety to the coverage. Here is Jasmine demonstrating the need for a second shooter standing right next to her to get vertical vs horizontal images. A roll one photographer could easily accomplish.
Do you have insurance?
Yes. There are two types of insurances that one aught to consider necessary. The first is liability in case someone would trip over a power cord and become injured. The second comes through the Professional Photographers of America (PPA) which created the Errors and Omissions Trust (now known as the Indemnification Trust), offering affordable malpractice-style protection for members. I have never needed it, but this does help keep us protected and make you feel safe in case we were to ever need it.
Where are you located, and do you travel?
I am based in Southern Indiana, but available for travel anywhere. Last year I had 3 weddings far enough away to include overnight accommodations. Not only is photographing weddings in new locations exciting, it also lets me meet and learn about people from all walks of life, something that I truly enjoy doing.
May we contact some of your former clients to see what it’s like to work with you?
Yes, absolutely! My brides, grooms and their families have become fans of my wedding services. Feel free to review their kind words here now.
We have a couple more questions before getting started…can I call you to discuss this further?
Yes, I’m always available to help. Every single wedding I photograph is distinctive, unique and is customized completely to the couple. Please feel free to call me with any questions or ideas you may have at 812 573-0505 or you can email to discuss your wedding. I’m ready to get started, what is the first step?
This sounds exactly like what I have been searching for! What is the next step?
Awesome! The next step is to call me at 812-573-0505 or email me with the form below to set up your free consultation. I would love to hear about your vision for your special wedding day! During our meeting I’d love to take you through the packages we offer and see which one works for you!