even if it makes you look insane. So no, I realize this “Featured Friday” post is being posted on a Thursday and I’m not losing my mind. So what does this mean?! Tomorrow is going to be an EXCITING day on the blog! To view some sneak peeks from John and Molly’s wedding, you can view them on my fanpage.
Moving on…. so Michael and I recently went to a marriage retreat and one of the things we left with was a little jar full of “questions” to randomly pick and ask each other when we have some down time! One of the first questions was “Who are some of the more joyful people in your life?”. I immediately thought of several people. My friend Jill, our friend Renee, Richard Green and several others. It’s fun to think about who the people are in your life that make you feel JOYFUL by just being in their presence! Rebekah definitely deserves to be placed in this category. This girl is RADIANT. Her smile and her personality are so contagious and I just adore her. She’s genuine, kind and so incredibly joyful…..and that’s a GREAT personality to have when you’re a wedding photographer!! Rebekah is based out of DC and does fabulous work! I’m so excited to introduce you to my sweet friend and past bride!! Enjoy reading about her story, her life and I’m sure that after you read this post, you’ll be able to see the JOY that I feel every time I’m around this girl!!!
1. Who are you? Where are you located? And if you could have a $1000 gift card to any store, what store would that be?
Hi, I’m Rebekah! I live in Reston, Virginia (just outside of DC) with my wonderful husband, Matt. Okay, I’m not even going to lie. I’ve been sitting here for the last hour writing and re-writing this answer. How am I supposed to answer this? Who am I? I have no idea… I struggle with this so much. Well, the most obvious place start is that I am a wedding photographer. I LOVE my job! It comes with so much joy AND so many challenges, yet I can’t imagine doing anything else. Other than that I’m just like the next girl, I love music (LOVE Michael Jackson – hey-oh!), I absolutely love to dance, I enjoy board games and movies and rock climbing and the list could go on. If I could have a $1000 giftcard anywhere, initially the photographer in me is like, “Say B&H Rebekah! We could buy a lens!” (hello multiple personalities! We?! Yikes. I’m like Gollum) But then, in my quest for coolness, I’d want to say somewhere really cool and trendy like Anthro or J. Crew so I could buy better clothes. The truth is, if I had some extra cash, I’d love to travel more with Matt… so maybe a giftcard to expedia.com. Perfect.
2. Tell us about your business! How did you get started? When did you fall in love with wedding photography?
When I graduated from college, my parents gave me my first DSLR. Unknowingly, that was one of the greatest gifts I had ever received. That fall, I offered to assist my friend second shoot a wedding for free so I could gain experience. I was SO nervous and all I had was my NIkon D90 and my kit lens. I didn’t own a speed light so I brought (ready to cringe, photographers?!) a FILM CAMERA FLASH. Yikes. Even though my feet were KILLING me by the end of the night, and my right index finger was permanently stuck in the curved position, I had fallen in love with wedding photography. Being SO involved in the day was so special and so intimate… I loved it… every moment of it. Soon after, I met up with Ali Williamson to talk about second shooting and she told me about the photography school she was enrolled in. I went home to my parents, told them I wanted to go back to school, and started classes 11 days later. It was a whirlwind, and I knew by going back to school I would be changing my career path entirely, but God was SO faithful to make the way so clear and give me peace to take that leap of faith. From that first wedding, I booked two that summer, and as I wrapped up school began taking on more and more clients of my own. I worked at the Apple Store after photography school to get on my feet, but in April of 2011 quit my job there to pursue wedding photography full-time. I am still blown away by how my business has grown in the last two years. Where are all these people coming from? Why do they want ME? I don’t understand it at all, but I do feel so blessed to be doing what I am doing and working with the most amazing clients.
3. Tell us about your all time favorite wedding that you have shot in the past! What did you love about it?
Oh my gosh… how can I pick a favorite?! It’s like picking a favorite child. I have experiencing some amazing couples and really memorable wedding moments. As an overall wedding, the one that had the most impact on me to date would be Angel & AJ’s wedding. Their ceremony was the most God-honoring I had ever seen, and there was so much love and prayer surrounding the day. There were SO many tears, so much laughter, and the reception?! A complete BLAST. I have never seen a crowd of people so spirited and so engaged in celebrating the couple. I remember the groom’s fraternity broke out into this awesome frat dance. Then ALL the girls had a choreographed dance. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed or cried more at a wedding – SO many emotions. I think the reason I loved it is because I love capturing real emotions and real moments, and this wedding was FULL of them!
4. How did you decide on your branding?
After many failed attempts at creating a logo for myself (HA!) I decided I needed to hire a designer to not only create a logo, but create a branding for my business. I contacted an old friend, Chris Stewart, because his illustration work is exquisite and because he knew me personally, so I knew he’d be able to capture my style. At the time, my blog had a picture of a daisy on it, and I liked it, so we decided to use that as the framework for the branding. Then Chris worked his magic and I was beyond thrilled when he came up with the idea we have now. He used colors I love, a fun font, a daisy with a CAMERA LENS in the middle (how cool is that?!) and added really fun details like the stitching in the panels. The ironic thing was that weeks after he gave me the final package, I got engaged, so he was gracious enough to change the “RG” to “RH” after I got married. My goal was something that was FUN but also professional but Chris took it way beyond that and actually studied my work to capture my photographic style and voice… all in a simple logo. I think he did a fabulous job and I have loved building my business around the branding.
5. During your first year of business, what is one thing that you would have done differently?
One thing? Try EVERYTHING. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but I made SO many mistakes in my first year… they still make me cringe. One thing that I was really bad at, that I am still working on improving, is my turn-around time. It once took me over one month to edit a wedding! I had nothing else going on, other than a part-time job at Apple and, oh yeah, meeting the man who I would end up marrying, but that poor bride! I felt awful. Having been a bride, I was SO excited to see my pictures (oh, by the way, have you seen them? They are AWESOME. This girl named Katelyn took them… maybe you’ve heard of her?) Another thing is that I let everything get to me. I was constantly comparing myself to other photographers and letting it shake my confidence. I still struggle with getting so nervous and anxious before I shoot weddings and so much of that revolves around a lack of confidence. I remember hearing Jasmine Star speak a while ago and she said, “No one is better at being you than YOU.” I had to remind myself that God was blessing me with clients because I was doing what He created me to do. I had to remind myself that my brides and grooms wanted me for ME and for my style and not because I was trying to be someone else. I think when I stopped trying to be Jasmine Star or Katelyn James, I began to have my own voice. Plus, it’s way easier being ME than being someone ELSE!
6. What is our favorite part of the wedding day?
One reason I love weddings is that there are SO many elements to the day, so I love all of it! If I had to pick a favorite, it would be the first time the groom sees the bride, whether it be during a “first look” or when he sees her for the first time coming down the aisle. Of course he already knows how beautiful she is, but he’s never seen her like THIS before. I just love seeing their reactions… the joy, the tears, the smiles. It reminds me of my wedding day, when I saw Matt while walking down the aisle we both burst into tears (and we had already done a first look and seen each other!). That moment is so amazing. I had never seen him cry before. That just made me cry 10 times harder!
7. List two goals you have for 2012! They can be as big as shoot a wedding in Fiji! Or as small as reorganize my craft close! Haha.
I blogged my 2012 goals sometime in January, and it was SO hard to do it because I knew that speaking them out loud meant having accountability and having to actually DO them. When I look at my upcoming wedding season, I start to feel overwhelmed, knowing how easy it is to fall behind and how fast falling behind can snowball. With so many back-to-back weddings this year, my goal is to edit a wedding in one week, so by the time I shoot the next one, I’m all caught up! It’s going to be hard, and require a lot of discipline, but it will be worth it. Another goal was to blog five times a week. So far it’s been great! However, I have no idea how I am going to blog five times a week when editing a wedding in a week. So, we’ll see what happens! As for personal goals, Matt and I are reading the Bible in a year. That is one thing that if you fall behind, it snowballs FAST. I have a week’s worth of reading to catch up on now, meaning I need to set aside a few HOURS to catch up. I really love it, though. And lastly, and maybe most importantly, I want to be able to do the splits. All the way. It’s my dream and 2012 is going to be my year… I just know it!
8. Who has been your biggest supporter and encourager for your business? Who is your cheerleader?
I have to laugh because I have someone who calls themselves my biggest fan. It isn’t Matt. It isn’t my mom… or my dad or my sister… it’s my brother-in-law’s dad (what?!) After I second shot my first wedding over two years ago, before photography school was even on the radar, Brian’s dad, Charlie, sat down with me for hours and told me all of the reasons why I should pursue freelance photography. I thought to myself, “are you crazy?!” but look at me today! He saw it in me from the beginning and challenged me to just GO FOR IT. In all fairness, though, my parents have been my biggest supporters from the beginning. They have always encouraged me and supported me, and provided so much for me with my first camera and my education. They never once told me to pursue something more “practical” because they knew I’d be happiest and most successful pursuing something I love, even though it’s a risk. Along those same lines, my sister and her husband have been pivotal for me. They also own their own business and have been hugely successful (the Goulet Pen Company) – they have mentored me about all things “business” and taught me so much about pushing myself to continue growing. Seeing them succeed has been so encouraging to me. And finally, Matt. From day one, he has told me how wonderful I am, how impressed he is by my work, and he has carried me in my weakest moments. He loves that I am a wedding photographer and that I am a small business owner. He helps me embrace my weaknesses and turn them into moments to let God be glorified. And he loves me. I love what I do because I really enjoy LOVE. Being loved by Matt has taught me how to love, and helps me connect on a deeper level with my couples who are so in love.
9. How would you describe your style?!
I like to describe my style as authentic. My goal is to capture moments that are so personal and real. My approach is to be as hands-off as possible so I can sit back and document. During portrait time, there is always a need for direction, of course, but I have no problem with letting my couples interact so the only thing they are reacting to is each other. Those are my favorite moments. In terms of aesthetics, I LOVE color, so I use as much bold color as possible. And who doesn’t like to have fun?! Colorful, authentic, and fun. That’s me!
10. What inspires you?
As cheesy as this sounds, what inspires me most is love. I’ve always been a hopeless romantic and that is one reason I love weddings… the love is in the air. My couples inspire me, their stories inspire me, their love inspires me. Outside of that, I always enjoy looking at other photographer’s work. It gives me new ideas and challenges me to try new things, break out of my comfort zone and my usual “routine.” Music is a huge source of inspiration for me, I LOVE music. And, of course, God inspires me. I have to continually remind myself that at any moment, I could go blind, lose my trigger finger, or all of my camera equipment could be stolen. Everything I have is is, and everything I create is is. His beauty is projected most in the people e creates. That’s why I love to get to know my couples and hear their stories. I see how God is working in their lives… how e brings people together. It’s so beautiful, and that is what keeps me going every single day.