In our feature series where we chat to the people behind the lens, this week we chat with Shelly Spithoff, an International wedding photographer based in Hamilton, Ontario, who describes her style as edgy, exquisite and real.
How long have you been photographing weddings for and how did you get into it?
I got into photography as a hobby, and as I shared my images online, friends started asking me to shoot their engagements, weddings, and families. I loved it so much that I decided to take the plunge and start my own business. It’s been two years since I became my own boss, and about 4 years since I started shooting weddings.
What do you particularly like about photographing weddings?
I love the fact that I can capture those tender moments on the couple’s biggest day, and turn it into art for them to remember and treasure forever.
How would you describe your style and approach?
My style is a mix of photojournalism, fine art, and high fashion. I get my inspiration from fashion spreads in magazines, and photojournalists who cover breaking stories internationally.
At each wedding, I aim to tell the story of the couple’s love, and of their wedding day. Every shot I take I ask myself, “what story is this telling within the overarching story of today?”
What advice would you give to couples looking for a wedding photographer?
The first piece of advice I would give is: before you book, make sure you see an album of an entire wedding day not just the highlights that the photographer’s posted on his/her website. Make sure you love everything about the way the photographer captures the day from, the way he/she gets the getting ready, to the ceremony, to the portraits, and to the reception.
The second piece is that make sure you actually like the photographer him/herself. You’re not just hiring the guy or girl for their photo taking skills, but you’re also hiring them. It makes all the difference to have a photographer who you like being around with follow you around on the biggest day of your life. I’ve heard horror stories about wedding photographers who made the bride cry, or was rude to the wedding party, etc…
What tips would you share with couples to help their day go more smoothly?
1) Make sure you communicate well with your photographer, the timeline of the day, so that he or she will have a better understanding of how much time they have to shoot during each part of the day.
2) Add a buffer of 15min to each segment of the day, i.e. getting ready, ceremony, formal bridal party shots, etc because things invariably always go late.
3) Have an unplugged ceremony if not an entire wedding.
4) If you can afford it, hire a good wedding planner. If not for the whole thing, at least for the day of.
Finally… Whats the best moment you’ve had as a wedding photographer?
This sounds so cheesy, but truly when clients see their pictures and email back with excitement and thanks.
Many thanks to Shelly for chatting with us, you can find out more and view more of her work here.