We’ve known Stephen for years, first as an associate photographer at another we company love, and now as owner of his own photography business, Stephen Bobb Photography. Not only is he super talented (all you have to do is look at his images, and the happy faces of his clients, to see that!) but he’s also ridiculously nice! Stephen was kind enough to share his very thoughtful responses to our interview questions, and we couldn’t be more grateful. Here’s Stephen!
How did you get started in the wedding business?After graduating from the Washington School of Photography in 2004, I started assisting some classmates who were shooting weddings. I quickly discovered that I really enjoyed it! Determined to gain more experience, I emailed some of the area’s best wedding photographers asking if I could help them. Jennifer Domenick gave me a chance and became my mentor. After 8 wonderful years as her second shooter and then associate photographer, I decided it was time to step out on my own in 2012.
It’s now been a decade since I started in weddings and I still love being a wedding photographer, working with happy people and capturing images of such an important milestone.
What do you do when you are not working?My free time is evenly divided between my family and a serious Words with Friends addiction. How would you describe your approach to weddings?My tagline is “Joyful Wedding Photography” because I love images of unbridled happiness. My approach is primarily photo journalistic or documentary, and I am always looking for real moments and emotions. Of course I also shoot details, decor, group shots and portraits, but my favorite images are those that capture couples and their loved ones in genuine moments of joy.
What inspires you in your work? I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how my images will be viewed by future generations - children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Being a father myself has given me a new perspective on the importance of photos. I love showing my son photos from our wedding. Wedding photos are not just for the couple, they become an important part of an entire family’s history.
I also think about the people who couldn’t make the wedding for whatever reason. It is gratifying to hear a comment like, “I wasn’t at the wedding, but I feel like I was after seeing your photos!"
What do you find the most rewarding about your job?I never take for granted the trust that couples place in me to deliver high-quality images of their once-in-a-lifetime celebration. A wedding photographer has to be adept in many areas - including portraiture, product photography, landscapes, and capturing split-second moments - sometimes under very tight timelines and poor lighting conditions. We have to make it work because there are no do-overs. I really love the challenge of it though. When my couples are thrilled with their photos, it is extremely rewarding.
What's the one thing you wish everyone knew about you or your business?In addition to getting some creative images, I hope my couples also feel like they were well taken care of throughout the whole process. I don’t want photography to be something they worry about as the wedding day nears. I try to quickly respond to any questions my clients have, and I love to connect them to resources and recommendations.
What do you think sets your company apart from other photographers?I’ve been told a number of times that my personality has helped couples feel calmer on their wedding day. I’m a pretty even-keeled person and that has benefits on what can be an emotionally-charged day. I smile a lot and treat everyone at the wedding with respect and compassion. I truly care about my clients and will do anything I can to make sure they have the best wedding experience possible.
What do you love about weddings?There are so many little stories within a wedding day. It could be proud parents seeing their children enter a new phase of life, flower girls and ring bearers watching in awe as a fairy tale unfolds before them, or childhood friends who have been through the ups and downs of past relationships listening to their closest friend recite vows of commitment to their partner. Whether it’s a lavish fete for 300 people or a private backyard ceremony with 20, there are always little stories.
Mostly, I love weddings because there are very few opportunities in life to have all of your closest loved ones in a room together. When it is to celebrate a couple’s love and commitment, it is very powerful.
What do you hate about weddings?I wish there were more weddings during the week! Also, I don’t like when couples feel pressured to have their wedding a certain way, or that they have to compete with what other people are doing. I always say that there is no right or wrong way to have a wedding.What is the coolest thing you've ever seen at a wedding?At a recent wedding, the groom surprised the bride by flying in a jazz artist who they saw on their very first date in Toronto. The look on the bride’s face was priceless. What's the best piece of advice you can give to couples planning a wedding?First and foremost is to keep the end goal in mind. The wedding is just the beginning, but what comes after is more important. I sincerely hope that the wedding is NOT the best day of your life, but just one of many highlights. Whether or not the wedding goes according to plan (hint: it probably won’t), at the end of the day you will be together with your partner.
Also, if you can find room in your budget, hire a wedding planner. Having a person to coordinate all of the vendors and handle any unforeseen problems can take a lot of stress off and let you relax on the wedding day. A happy, relaxed couple running on schedule can help make for better photos! Even if you don’t need full wedding planning, most planners offer limited coordinating services to help your day run smoothly.
Who is your favorite artist or band?This was surprisingly tough for me to answer. I’ve gone through many phases and I like most types of music. I don’t think I can name a favorite. In the last few years I’ve moved away from buying albums and now listen mostly to Pandora and Spotify. My most frequently played stations recently are based on the Old 97’s, Iron and Wine, Ben Kweller and A Tribe Called Quest. What is the worst song of all time?Definitely "The Thong Song.” It hurts my ears.
Open mic, final thoughts: Thank you for the opportunity to share some about myself and my business, and for everything that MyDeejay does for the DC/MD/VA wedding community. I feel fortunate to be part of such a supportive community of wedding vendors here in the DC-area. Weddings are a huge team effort and working with talented and friendly professionals makes it that much more enjoyable.