In an industry filled with talented photographers, Elizabeth Messina has stood especially tall, thanks to her luminous lighting and emotion-filled wedding photography. She shared what brides should look for when booking a photographer for their big day, how to look relaxed in front of the camera, and also what aspiring wedding photographers should know before breaking into the business
MW: Many brides admire your work and aim to have shots that are just as beautiful as yours on their big day. Do you habe any tips for couples while booking a photographer?
Elizabeth Messina: Your wedding photographer is perhaps one of the most important decisions you will make while planning your wedding. There are three essential elements while you are in the process of picking a wedding photographer.
First – it is important to see as many images as possible from each photographer you are considering for your wedding. Take time to meet with photographers and look at as many slideshows and albums as possible. The more work you view, the better idea you’ll have of the photographer’s style, consistency, and sensibility.
Second – a good photographer will be with you while you begin to get ready, during the ceremony, the first dances and more, capturing some of the most special and intimate moments. This is a delicate balance for a photographer, to be present and unobtrusive at the same time. The more at ease and comfortable you feel around your photographer, the more natural and beautiful your wedding images will feel.
Third – the budget. It can be daunting trying to compare one photographer’s pricing to another, as pricing structures can vary as much as their images. The good news is there are talented photographers for every budget. If you have beautiful images you love, you can always find creative ways to display and share them with friends and family.
MW: A lot of people have a hard time loosening up in front of the camera, which could be especially tough on your wedding day. How do you get your couples to look so relaxed and natural?
EM: I try to truly connect with my clients. Sometimes I’ll encourage them not to look at the camera, so we can start slow. Other times I’ll ask them to hold hands and walk away. This gives them a little space, which can be calming. I think the more a couple interacts with each other, the more natural they will feel. I also talk and listen, sometimes putting my camera down from time to time. The relationship and interaction with a client is the most important aspects of getting a natural and flattering image (that and the light, of course).
MW: Do you have any advice for young wedding photographers just getting their start?
EM: First, follow your heart – this is the simplest and the most complex advice there is. For me, that meant creating intimate images, that is what I am naturally drawn to. Second, keep your overhead low. This is so important, especially in today’s economy. If you have a fancy studio and lots of expenses to maintain, you undoubtedly put a lot of pressure on yourself and your business. If your overhead is low, you give yourself much more freedom. There is no need to put a lot of undue stress on yourself. And third, embrace your own style. Here is a little secret: everybody has a style. The trick is learning to identify it and recreate it at will. A style is something that you hone and nurture over the course of your career.