Every so often, we'll be posting interviews with our favorite wedding vendors in a series called "In The Mix With..." Today, our first victim - Kimberly Brooke Green of Kimberly Brooke Photography. I was Kim's first blog interview well over a year ago, and I finally get to return the favor. Kim, you're in the hot seat - I hope you're ready to be grilled!
How did you get started in the wedding business?
To be honest, I wasn't that thrilled with my photographer, but my videographer (Martin Andrews) was fairly new at the time and his energy and excitement about me giving him creative freedom was refreshing. Martin knocked it out of the park with my video and I wanted to do the same for others with photography. That was in 2001. I was a newly married bride myself and could relate to other brides' desire to capture all the details and emotion of their experience. Like a lot of folks, I shot a ton of friends' weddings and the referrals grew!
What do you do when you are not working?
Watch my 2 and 4 year old boys explore life. Hang with hubby Pete. Watch kids movies over and over and over. I love to snowboard. We have a camper and are way into the cheesy camping culture. Just got into yoga and love that. Trying to really separate work from home life. Learning how to balance this whole mom / wife / business owner gig.
How would you describe your approach to weddings?
I don't really have a formulaic approach. Each wedding is so different from the one before. After an engagement session, and connecting with the couple a lot before the wedding, I usually show up as one of the girls. I blend in and pay attention. I definitely will give artistic direction when needed. I love to MAKE as well as TAKE photographs.
What inspires you in your work?
Authenticity. Really... truth drives me in more ways than I can explain here. Authentic love, authentic sorrow. Authenticity is the foundation of connection. We all long for connection, so when we see it captured, a photograph becomes treasured.
What do you find the most rewarding about your job?
The look of relief I see in a bride's eyes knowing that I've got it covered. Especially from the type-A brides :) and then getting the call when they are expecting their first child. That is a real honor to me that I get to continue documenting their story.
What's the one thing you wish everyone knew about you or your business?
One thing I wish people knew? First, I just hired a Studio Manager to make our client experience even better. Yep - Studio - I have a physical space to meet and shoot in! And second, yes I know that is two things but who can resist a 2 for 1 deal :), is that I love to teach (espcially photography). I do one on one mentoring, learning parties for groups and way more than wedding photography.
What do you think sets your company apart from other photographers?
When I was younger I didn't know what I didn't know. 8 years later, I know what I don't know, and it drives me to keep learning and refining my technique. As for other photographers, I don't view others as competition. I am not saying that in an arrogant way, I really mean it. It has taken me a while to feel that, as our market keeps getting flooded by younger shooters who just picked up a DSLR. It gets harder to tell from blogs and websites who has the experience to back up their claims. I have the skills in lighting; know what to do in tough situations... that all comes from experience. I could shoot a wedding in film with no post production if I had to. I think the photographers who can say that are fewer and far between. I really feel confident in who I am, what I do and my relationships with my clients.
But I guess what sets me apart is that at the end of the day, I have witnessed your wedding. I watched through the lens as you made a covenant to stand together. I probably had the closest view of your faces when you vowed forever. That has made an impact on me. I believe marriage is one blessing we didn't lose after the fall from Eden. This past year I have really made an effort to pray for my clients' marriages. Even if you don't believe what I do, I still want your marriage to last beyond the thrill of your wedding day. I want to give you photographs that remind you of the intensity of your love on your first day of marriage, so on your 1537th day of marriage you remember like it was yesterday.
What do you love about weddings?
Personal touches. Creative ceremonies. The buzz of anticipation before the ceremony. When Uncle Bob goes crazy on the dance floor out of nowhere. Um, and the cake :)
What do you hate about weddings?
The rush after the ceremony. Selfish wedding parties who make things difficult for the couple. Drunk groomsmen who hit on me. My swollen right hand on the drive home. Sore feet and aching back... oh wait - maybe that is because I'm 30 now.
What is the coolest thing you've ever seen at a wedding?
Well, the wedding I just shot with Evan had the coolest cake topper I have seen in a while (it's even the topper company's main website photo). Let's see, after a hurricane, I got awesome shots of the bride and groom in giant football field sized puddles, bridesmaids walking down the aisle straight out of a vintage trolley, groomsmen jumping into a pool at night... but I love it when you can really tell the couple is in love.
What's the best piece of advice you can give to couples planning a wedding?
Since you are reading this on a DJ blog... I can definitely tell you that if you don't have a rockin' party, I can't make it look like it was a rockin' party!
Let your vendors guide you on timeline. Get input from all of them and share the input to come up with the most realistic timeline.
Photography-wise, honestly -- SEE EACH OTHER BEFORE THE CEREMONY! What is it with the notion that you can't see or talk to each other that day? If you really look into the history of wedding traditions, some have deep meaning and some don't. In our modern times, people are creating such amazing customized weddings that it seems unnatural to be bound by certain traditions. If you are willing to give up the mental picture of him seeing you come down the aisle for the first time, then I can capture some AWESOME shots of him really seeing you for the first time. Alone, intimate, relaxed.
You won't get much time together on your wedding day, at least quality time. The tension between public and intimate on the wedding day is wild. You look at each other in the car when you leave and say, "Whoa! We're married, I feel like I haven't talked to you all day!" So take advantage of seeing each other first. Have a special moment and let me capture it. Trust me - all the weddings I do this way flow so much better.
AND PLEASE for every hour you spend planning your wedding, please spend another 3 hours planning your MARRIAGE. The wedding day lasts a few hours, but your marriage needs a solid foundation. 2 or 3 pre-marriage counseling sessions aren't going to cut it. Immerse yourselves in books, hang with other couples who are strong, seek wisdom from couples celebrating 30 or 50 years together. With today's divorce rate, if you understand anything about return on investment, you will put the health of your relationship as top priority.
Who is your favorite artist or band?
What is the worst song of all time?
Strokin' (Clarence Carter) - especially for a wedding. It just never ends up good.
Open mic, final thoughts:
Definitely ask your wedding vendors for referrals. We've all worked with a lot of folks and can tell you if they are who they say they are and all that. Evan's team of DJs are outstanding. Never shot a wedding with them where the party was lame :) Trust your vendors. If you hire someone because you like their style, give them freedom on your wedding day. Micromanaging just restricts creative types. Plus, you'll have a lot more fun and less stress on your day knowing you can trust your vendors are loving their freedom to work.
Thanks, Kim! Lots of great advice here - thanks so much for sharing your knowledge and passion for your craft with us. You can check out Kim's outstanding work on her blog at http://www.kimberlybrookeblog.com.