Christopher Pritchard is a wedding photographer living in Rockford,
Michigan. He creates amazing wedding photographs that are both fun and creative. At the same time his style is artistic and unique for
each couple. For Christopher weddings are all about spontaneity and
moments as well as romance and love.
Tell us a little about yourself and your photography.
Oh so many stories, so little time. Well I just sort of fell into
photography. Years before in my youth I was just a fly by the seat
of my pants kind of guy. Racing bicycles, playing college golf, went
into the Navy, worked small retail jobs, until one day I fibbed on a
job application for a Graphic Designer position with a newspaper. It
was the start of my graphic design career and soon I found out I had
a pretty good eye with visual design (at least I thought I did).
Eventually this spread into photography with trying to figure out
how a camera really worked to give me a result I wanted to see. Soon
I got my first camera that burned the pictures on CD, I thought that
was really cool at the time and like many others, I started taking
lots of pictures of my kids. From there it just evolved. Isn’t that
how most of the people in this industry started?
Why did you start taking photos?
It was just for fun initially. I started directly in the digital
world. I didn’t start in the film world, ( I did have some film
experience in high school). But I really enjoyed taking an image,
seeing it right away and see what I could do different on the next
click. It was fun hobby that just blossomed I guess.
What inspired you to turn it into a business?
Because my ex-wife suggested it would be a great way to help pay for child support! Well, plus I was getting burned out on doing web design, and having been a consultant for 10 years, it was an easy transition to “try” and see what I could with photography. So I put an ad in Craig’s List offering free photography. I was pretty good at
consulting and the sales pitch aspects, but those clients took some
big risks. Which paid off for them, and it jump started my business.
I think I shot my first wedding on an Olympus Evolvt 330, it was
sort like a point and shot DSLR. I pretty much shot it with two
lenses, two which I really didn’t know much about. After the first
few, I grew really attached to the emotional aspects of the wedding.
From there I studied the true masters, inside and out. Read every
book, practiced lighting shooting my daughter’s dolls and just
became so obsessive about it. This all started about 3 years ago.
Why are you fascinated with weddings?
Where else can you go have so much fun. It’s the BIG day. Good people, moods, food, locations and lots of laughs. I just don’t really want to shoot much else. Shooting families, kids, babies, you have to
have a different mindset. For me, weddings is about spontaneity,
moments, romance, love and marrying all that into an art of
photographic shots is where my heart is at.
How do you capture the love and feeling of a wedding?
I’m a feelings kind of guy, pretty emotional, and a soft romantic heart. I like to shoot my shots in ways that look like they were carved out
of a romantic movie. My creative influences come from watching
movies, particularly love stories. So I watch how the cinematographer frames emotion. When I work with my clients often I will act out what I want, a pose, or give good visual direction.
Yeah, I look pretty silly doing it, but I want my clients to really
feel each other. I tell them, we are not here to just “take pictures” we are here creating moments, recreating that passionate bond. You really have to feel it within. Then with a subtle direction, I’ll prompt for camera aware and camera unaware. This has been where my biggest success has been with shooting weddings. It’s a style I’m good at. Other’s may be stronger in shooting details, traditional portraits etc. But creating a romantic moment is strength.
I bet you can tell me about some challenges you faced or awkward circumstances. Tell me about some memorable moments.
Ha, yes. I have had several of those. One of my favorite awkward moments (not on my account), was when the father of the bride was walking the bride down the aisle. The music turned off, the officiant asked who gives this bride away and just before the father answered, the best mans cell went off, singing “Me so horny”, by rap artist 2 Live
Crew. I never saw so many shades of red and humiliation.
Biggest challenges for me, is balancing a fine line as to what you
think the clients wants to see and with what you want to create as
an artist. The challenge is that while many clients will hire you as
artist and trust your work, there are some that demand a sense of
entitlement to what they want to see, which can be frustrating. So
it’s so important to be sure that your clients are educated. That
they understand the style of your work they are signing up for. So
while I may not shoot tons of details, my focus is on the emotions,
and spontaneous moments. The client must agree and understand this
when they select me.
What are some other photographic projects you enjoy working
Well I try to find new ways of doing things. I love to play with my
speedlights and doing different things with them. (Like putting them
under water!). I love to shoot fashion oriented shoots with models
to experiment with new ways of working light. Lately, I have been
diving a little into stock photography.
What kind of a camera and lenses do you primarily use and how do you select your equipment?
I shoot all Nikon gear. Mix of CCD and full frame. The one lens that
is almost impossible to tear away from me is my 70-200mm 2.8. Then
my 24-70 2.8, my 50 1.4, 85mm, and I like to rent and play with
ultra wides, 10-24, 11-16 etc. Sometimes I want to ultra wide to
make a scene look like a movie poster or something.
Lighting is my secret weapon. For me, I always seek light over
location. When shooting weddings you can rarely avoid the mid day
sun and high speed sync is really the only way to compete with the
sun. I carry several speelights, radio poppers, reflectors, diffusers and my clutch weapons are my video lights. The LedZilla being my fav. I’m not a big strobe light shooter, I need small lightweight gear. I live for the Joe McNally speedlight style.
Can you name some tips for those who want to start a wedding photography business?
- Be very passionate about it. You have to want to live and
breath it everyday to be the best.
- Don’t be greedy. Start small. Build your work, portfolio and
relationships strong. Even if it costs you.
- Educate, educate, educate. A photography business is not
just about photography. It’s also being a graphic/digital
artist, a business person, and a consultant. Continually educate
yourself in business, computers/design and get exposure in how
to work with clients, client management.
- Educate your clients. This cannot be stressed enough.
Your clients must be educated in your approach, expectations,
your style and to help consult them through best practices.
Clients are not the pros and they must be educated in every
aspect so they do not assume things that you are not able to
deliver. There is a match for every style of photographer. The
clients will find you. If you are not comfortable giving
direction explain that. Maybe they don’t like to be in front of
the camera either. So it’s important to understand and educate
your clients on your style and work ethics.
- Loyalty. They are your new friends. Value the friendship and
break the wall of the client vendor relationship. I just can’t
stand it when I am referred to as a vendor. I make every effort
to keep the friendships, continue the relationships and keep
them as friends as much as possible. By establishing this
loyalty, you will be the first they go to for recommendations.
- Brand building and reputation management. This is so
important to help spread word of mouth. Establish a polished
look to your name and business. Make it unique, and think
outside the box. It seems every photographer out there is using
the same cookie cutter websites and galleries. Not really
creating a distinct difference will not allow you to rise above
the normal levels. Produce videos of your work, blog it,
facebook, flickr, twitter all this is important to building
brand and managing your reputation, giving you more exposure to
your name and your work.
- Lastly, be original. Go with your feelings and be creative.
Don’t fall in the trap of doing what others are doing. Be
inventive in your photography and take risks. The pace of how
fast you succeed, depends on the pace of your passion and desire
Thank you for sharing these lovely photos and great tips,
Great success in the future!
You can see more fantastic photos from Christopher Pritchard at his website