Thomas Hoebbel is a wedding photographer living in Ithaca NY. With
over fifteen years’ experience photographing weddings, Tom knows
how to create exceptional and elegant wedding photography. He takes the time to understand your needs in order to fulfill your
expectations. Tom’s style offers you a mix of formal portraits along
with joyful candids with which to remember this truly special event.
Tell us a little about yourself and your photography.
I began my photography career in 1990 in Connecticut. I became the
production photographer for the Connecticut Repertory Theatre as
well as photojournalist for a local newspaper. It wasn’t long after
that couples began to ask me to photograph their weddings and thus
my career as a wedding photographer was launched.
Why did you start taking photos?
I was enamored with photograpahy since I was a young boy. I got my
first camera when I was 7 or 8 and bought an SLR as soon as I
graduated college. I was always taking photographs. Generally for 2
reasons…to capture the beauty of a scene…creating artistic
images and secondly to record events.
I felt my photography was documenting moments, events, interactions etc. Wedding photography is a natural extension of both of those.
Recording an event, documenting so to speak, but doing so in a
creative artistic way.
What inspired you to turn it into a business?
Basically I spent many years taking photos because I enjoyed it.
Eventually people began asking me to work for them, to bid on
projects that needed a photographer (like the CT Rep Theatre). At
first, I felt like I was just continuing to do what I loved, but
getting a paycheck too!
As things progressed I realized I needed to pay attention to the
business side, assess the value of what I do, invest in equipment to
take the career to the next level and so things like marketing.
Why are you fascinated with weddings?
Weddings are one of the most challenging subjects/events to
photograph. First, you only get one shot, so to speak. And in my
experience, the only way to take fantastic wedding photos is to have
a rapport with the bride and groom.
How do you capture the love and feeling of a wedding?
I spend time getting to know couples before the wedding. We meet at
least a couple times and I try to get a sense of the style they are
looking for, what is most important to them as well as allowing them
to be comfortable with me. I continue this relationship on the
I always arrive early, so there is no stress. I get to know people
in the wedding party and family members. Not only does this increase
their comfort level, but gives me insight into the
To sum up, I really try to get to know the couple well. I photograph
their wedding as if they were one of my best friends or a member of
I bet you can tell me about some challenges you faced or
awkward circumstances. Tell me about some memorable moments.
I would call myself very lucky as a wedding photographer.
I am often asked about BrideZillas or moms of the bride who are horrible to work with, but I have never experienced this.
The only awkwardness I experience is when the bride or groom has
divorced parents and this might be the first social occasion they
have attended together in quite some time. I have been warned of
potential conflict and discomfort, but in my experience even these
situations resolve themselves pretty amicably. All parents want what
is best for their kids on a day like this.
What are some other photographic projects you enjoy working
As I mentioned, one of my first paying gigs was as a theatre
production photographer. This is still something that I love to
photograph. Whether it is live theatre, music or dance…capturing
the energy and essence of a live performance is very rewarding to
What kind of a camera and lenses do you primarily use and
how do you select your equipment?
I am a nikon man through and through. I primarily use a Nikon D3 for
all of my work and I carry a D2x as a back-up.
My favorite lens is Nikon’s 70-200mm VR Zoom…beautiful glass. I
always us 2.8 lenses…this is essential in theatre, music etc.
but the beauty of shooting at 2.8 is very rewarding. I am very
willing to spend whatever it takes to have the best equipment in my
hands for the assignment at hand.
Of course, Nikon now has the D3s, but there are limits to my
equipment budget. It is a great camera, but the D3 does everything
the newer model can.
Can you name some tips for those who want to start a wedding
If someone were considering starting a photography business, I guess
I would ask them- Would you take photos every day for the rest of
your life even if you were not getting paid to? If the answer is
yes, then I would say they were on the right track. Another
important element especially for someone who is a photographer and
thinks of themself as an artist is – “Are you ready to run a
business” Many photographers are great artists and not good business people. Of course it is a skill that can be learned. Get advice,
take a business class, hire an accountant or a marketing person to
help create your success.
Thank you for your insightful tips and amazing photos, Tom.
And keep up the good work!
You can learn more about Tom Heobbel and his work at his website