It’s always a good time when we get the chance to work with Lisa Marie O’Quinn of Sweet Tea Photography, and we were even lucky enough to have her shoot our most recent Thursday Therapy event! We're so happy that she agreed to share a little bit about herself and her experiences with our readers.Here’s Lisa!
How did you get started in the wedding business? I just remember looking at my grandparent’s wedding portraits and thinking how special they were to our family. After realizing how precious these photographs were, I wondered why my family wasn’t taking better care of all of our photographs. So I began organizing the images into photo albums and framing them as well. This was the beginning of a true passion that led me to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Photography at Hollins University and then a Master of Arts in Commercial Photography at Savannah College of Art & Design. During my time at Hollins, I focused more on creating two series of fine-art photographs. I really dove into shooting film and creating images in the dark room setting with black-and-white film and alternative processes. During my time at SCAD, I focused more on nailing down my shooting style for weddings, branding, and making sure to continue to treat each image as something you would see in a gallery or museum.
What do you do when you are not working? During my time off, I enjoy exploring the District, trying new restaurants, traveling, and checking out modern art exhibitions. You can often find me checking out new bands at the 9:30 club, doing Pilates at the Washington Sports Club, or Brunching with my sweet boyfriend in Dupont.
How would you describe your approach to weddings? We like to look at each wedding as a unique piece of art, which is why we refer to ourselves at Fine-art photographers. We take a non-obtrusive approach during the happenings and a relaxed directness with the portraits.
What inspires you in your work? I would say that color, patterns, fashion, music, and new experiences are the strongest influences in my work. I always find that when I leave art museums, I’m left inspired by texture, light, and color. We are so blessed to live in a city that is filled with so much culture, art, and unique spaces that never ceases to inspire us.
What do you find the most rewarding about your job? The most rewarding part of my job is delivering beautiful memories to the client, knowing that they will treasure these images for a lifetime and will be passed down from generation to generation.
What's the one thing you wish everyone knew about you or your business? I don’t think that many of my friends in the wedding industry know that we’ve made the transition back into shooting film. There are many things that lured us back to film, but what really drew us in were the vibrant colors and luminous skin tones. We feel much more a part of the creative process when we are making decisions in-camera rather than fixing mass-produced images in Photoshop to get the look we were hoping for.
We do love living in an era where both film and digital are options. We always have a digital camera by our side, just to compare the difference of the two. We usually pick the film images over the digital but sometimes prefer digital in darker settings.
For potential bride and grooms, I would assure you that you shouldn’t be afraid of film. Sometimes you have to think outside the box, to find something beautiful or unique. I’m sure like myself, you’ve see tons of people posting their wedding photos on Facebook. Have you noticed that most of them look the same? This brings me to ask why anyone would invest so much into photography that is mediocre. When you take the chance of hiring a true artisan, they will make sure to think of each wedding as a unique experience. Creating a true piece of art out of your precious moments.
And just to be clear, when wedding photographers shoot film, the negatives are scanned and made into digital files that will be put with rest of the digital images onto a CD or thumb drive. Not only do you have that scanned image, but you have a hard copy negative as a back-up. So essentially by using film, you have one more way of backing-up the photos than you do with digital. We used one of the world’s most renown processing lab, Richards Photo Lab (RPL), for our developing, scanning, and printing.
What do you think sets you apart from other photographers? Our ability to put our clients at ease, really shows through our images. I think that our educational background and experience also sets us apart from our competitors. Both Michelle and I have Masters in Photography from Savannah College of Art & Design. We have been photographing people for over 11 years and event/ weddings for almost 7 years. We have also been trained under some of the best wedding photographers in America (Jonathan Canlas and Bryan Johnson).
We are less structured them some and can adjust to any atmosphere.
What do you love about weddings? There are so many things I love about weddings. My favorite thing is witnessing these precious moments on a weekly basis.
What do you hate about weddings? Unnecessary drama or tension, so we really try our best to ease that tension whenever we can.
What's the best piece of advice you can give to couples planning a wedding? When choosing a photographer, I would recommend starting off by comparing styles not prices. Then from there you can nail down the shooting style you prefer and find that photographer who may be closer to your budget. Make sure not to skimp on the photographer, because the photographs are the only thing you have left to remember the wedding day.
Who is your favorite artist or band? Currently I’m into Alt-J and hope to see them at Lollapalooza this year!!! I would say that the best shows I saw in 2013 were Kate Nash, Best Coast, and Frightened Rabbit.
What is the worst song of all time? “We are family.” Even though I hear “Single Ladies” and “I Got a Feeling” at every single wedding, I never get tired of it. Though…I can’t say the same for Michelle.