At FOTO, we are committed to helping our fellow creatives flourish. In our Q&A style blog series, Coffee with Creatives, we are highlighting the unique expertise of some of our favorite professionals, sharing tips and information on relevant topics to bring you some practical insight and inspiration for the important work you do.
First things first, how do you take your coffee? (And if you are not a coffee drinker, what is your beverage of choice to energize you?)
Catherine: I've recently started dabbling with tea in the mornings but coffee is still my preference. I'm a woman of efficiency so unless we have company where we'll use our french press, my go-to is a reusable keurig cup with cc's coffee, a touch of almond milk and collagen protein blended! :)
Tell us a bit about yourself and your photography business?
Catherine: I am 32 years old and based in New Orleans, LA as of May 2018 where we purchased and renovated a 135-year-old home. One half of the home is ours where we live and the other half is a 4 bedroom Airbnb Plus Home right in the heart of the Lower Garden District, 1 block off of artsy Magazine St. I started my photography business in 2010. Initially, I was photographing architecture but quickly transitioned into weddings. I LOVE photographing the real emotion of weddings and life in general. These events have truly transformed my appreciation of family and friends...making me realize how important they are in the grand scheme of things and how little everything else matters. I am so so passionate about photography and hope to do this for the rest of my life.
What led you to start your podcast, Mistakes Make Magic?
Catherine: In the Summer of 2017, I told my husband Brad that I wanted to start something new...something inspiring. I wanted this "thing" to be inspiration for me and for others, a way for growth to happen. We initially had plans of hosting the podcast together but quickly realized that it made more sense for Brad to handle the audio portion of the podcast and for me to do the interviews. We came up with Mistakes Make Magic because we wanted a platform for successful individuals to remove the veil of perfection and dive into the hard stuff. After all, we learn most when we make mistakes. Hopefully through the podcast, others can learn and avoid some mistakes of their own! :)
What do you love about taking bridal portraits?
Catherine: Bridal portraits are such a fun experience for the bride and her closest family/friends. It's a way for her to trial run her hair/makeup and wedding day look and see those images prior to the wedding day. In the South, it's a tradition to have a portrait hung up at the entrance to the reception and the only way to accomplish this is by photographing the session pre-wedding day! Weddings are such a special time for individuals...a day that many women (and men) look forward to for the entire length of their relationship!! It's just a really awesome opportunity to get some beautiful photos marking this milestone!
What makes the experience magical for a bride?
Catherine: In regards to the bridal session specifically, I think feeling comfortable and happy on this day makes the experience special! She is able to look and feel her best and be photographed in that moment. I always try to remind my brides of a few things: first, and foremost...to eat! I feel like the misconception is that not eating will make them look or feel better but in actuality it's the opposite. Eating will make the client feel more energetic, smile bigger and brighter and enjoy the day overall. One thing that is often overlooked is that what makes an image beautiful is emotion! The happier you feel the more you'll love the images!! I always advise them as well to bring people that make them feel happy and comfortable! Creating a positive environment is so important for a bridal or portrait session!!
Anything specific you do to help your brides feel comfortable during the shoot?
Catherine: I offer honest feedback and positive encouragement. If there is something that I feel will help the shoot to look better, I have no hesitation in offering that constructive feedback but I never criticize or speak negatively. I always do my best to remind the client of their most beautiful features and point out what makes them unique! One of the things I love most about my job is giving them the opportunity to see themselves how others see them! We are our own worst critics, so it is my job to help them remember how awesome and beautiful they truly are, inside and out!
Can you share three tips on how to make bridal portraits unexpected and unique?
Catherine: 1. I am constantly doing my best to make the bride's images different from anyone else's! Even if I am photographing in the same location, I try to find new locations within! Different locations do help to separate different sessions from one another even if they are within the same general area. 2. I do my best to highlight the most interesting parts of her or her dress! Typically clients are trying to create a look that is unique so my job is to highlight through imagery those differences in detail and styling. 3. Lastly, I present the images in a book. Often times (especially in this digital era) images get lost in the mix of iPhone photos on our phone or documents on our computers. We as photographers have to make this experience different and special for the clients. I am a firm believer in printing the professional images so that clients and their friends/family can enjoy these photos for years and years to come. It's soooo much more likely that you will revisit an image when it's printed and on display than when it is hidden on a computer. And one more aside! I know we are talking a lot about the bride and bridal portraits in this post, but I always want to be cognizant of singling out just the bride because I feel like this is a magical experience for both the men and the women involved! :) (hint hint: If there are any men out there wanting to do a "groom's session" let me know!) I know when my husband and I got married in 2015, we were both equally as excited for the day!! What made our experience magical was being able to share in all the experiences together, and sharing them with those we love most, too! We had a very intimate wedding (65 total) and every decision was made because we wanted it to be a day that everyone remembered due to feeling special! Focusing on the experience and the way that you and your loved ones will feel is the best way to make the day magical.
Photographers can wear many hats! Any crazy things you've ever done to help a bride during a shoot or at her wedding?
Catherine: LOL this is actually a funny question when I think of all the things over the past 10 years. I've offered my personal shoes, brushes, bobby pins, makeup, jackets, fur, etc. Over the course of working with my clients we establish trust and a strong relationship. I feel like what's good for them is what's good for me so I never hesitate to share something of mine that I feel will help them or make the experience better. I am there to serve and have done all the things (including helping brides lift their dresses for the restroom and wiping their dirty heels on my pants) haha. Whatever it takes!
Lastly, what Fotostrap(s) do you wear?
Catherine: I am a modern/minimalist type of gal so my favorite is the Bear strap. It's durable and strong and of course black goes with my wedding day attire! But gosh...there are too many good ones to choose from!!
Looking for more inspiration from industry creatives? Check out these other Q&A's:
Coffee with Creatives: Misty Rodda's Tips on Keeping a Fresh Perspective
Coffee with Creatives: Katie Lamb's Tips on Finding that "Mompreneur" Work/Life Balance
Coffee with Creatives: Caroline Jurgensen's Tips on Running a Business with her Spouse