We have a chat with professional photographer Maria from STUDIO 1208 – a husband and wife team producing wedding photography and videography for couples’ big days.
How long have you been a photographer?
“I have been taking pictures for about eight years, and professionally for six. We were super poor when I was growing up, but photos and video were always important to my parents, and I was always drawn to imagery. I remember my grandpa and my aunt had old Canon 35mms and always took the most beautiful pictures – my aunt would have them printed and give them to us. It was one of my favourite gifts to receive.”
“When I was 22, I got my first phone with a camera on it. I think it was probably .2 megapixels, but I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I took pictures of everything – it was the camera I always had with me, and it gave me instant gratification. I took 5,000 images on that phone and my love for photography was stronger than ever. At that point, I decided that I wanted to study it at University. I got accepted to The Art Institute of Philadelphia, and studied there until 2006, when I was offered an internship with notorious celebrity photographer, David LaChapelle, in Los Angeles. I interned there for a month, and was then hired by him as Production Co-ordinator. There, I helped produce shoots with A-listers and major commercial clients.”
“After leaving the studio to pursue my own career, I was chosen to be a part of a photography-based reality TV show, called The Shot. The show was basically the photography equivalent of America’s Next Top Model. Instead of models, they were searching for the next great fashion photographer. I competed against 9 other photographers, living together for 8 weeks, and shooting photo assignments; from underwater fashion, and editorial on a yacht, to hanging from a cliff and shooting a major campaign for Vaseline. It was a very intense process, and in the end, I was the winner! It was a fantastic experience, and led me to jumpstart my fashion photography career and shoot major campaigns, including the cover of Victoria’s Secret Catalogue, twice.”
I have worked in fashion all along (still do), and in 2011, my husband, Nick, and I started STUDIO 1208 – the wedding side of our business. Nick is a filmmaker, and I shoot stills. Nick started in music and fashion as well, and worked with me for years, so we knew it would work as a team.”
Can you describe your style of your photography?
“I think that I am a great storyteller – we both are. Everyone has a story, whether it is a fashion client or a bride and groom – I want to tell the story so that people who know nothing about my clients can feel connected to them by looking at their images or film. I like to know and be immersed in the back-story so that I can bring it full circle when I photograph the main event. I am genuinely interested in my clients and who they are.”
“It is important to me that I represent them properly – at the end of the day, a photo shoot is a collaboration of many people and creative minds, and a wedding is no different. What sets me apart, perhaps, is that I approach each wedding as if it is a fashion job, wanting each wedding to look different, even if was at a venue we had worked at before. Another thing that I see as strength is that I can be comfortable in most situations, and can really think on my feet. We actually specialise in destination weddings, so the change of scenery is a great challenge and gets us really excited – I love learning about and celebrating other cultures.”
Who or what got you into wedding photography?
“Interestingly enough, I never thought I would do weddings – like, EVER. I always felt like it was too great a responsibility and I was actually afraid to try it for a long time. I would hate the thought of ruining someone’s wedding because I couldn’t handle it. Just because you are a photographer, does not mean you can shoot weddings well, too. It is its own world, and you must understand and respect the pace and have the right personality to handle the pressure. In fashion, I can stop time and re-do a shot until it’s perfect. With weddings, you get one chance, and it better be right.”
“It was Nick who suggested that we start shooting weddings, and we both fell in love with it. How amazing to work with people who are so happy and grateful?! Wedding photography feeds my soul, where fashion sometimes sucks it. Don’t get me wrong, fashion will always be my first love, but I can apply my fashion aesthetic to weddings and that keeps me artistically satisfied.”
Where do you find ideas for your photography work?
“Everywhere. Our world is so saturated with imagery now; I don’t think people even realise how much we see every day. It is near impossible to re-invent the wheel anymore, but I like to try and find inspiration from things that are right in front of me. Sounds obvious, but art is a huge inspiration – different mediums, painting, illustrations, and even comics. Nick and I love to collect art, and love to find obscure, interesting pieces for our home. Of course, I use amazing tools like Pinterest, blogs and magazines to see what people are doing and how we can all take our art to the next level.’
What’s the most memorable wedding you’ve shot?
“How hard is this question?! It has to be a tie, but for different reasons. The first wedding we shot together – Bryan and Kim in Puerto Rico – was very memorable. The wedding was absolutely gorgeous, and the couple rented out the entire resort for their guests for the week. It was a fiesta theme, so a lot of bright colours, their flowers were incredible, and the fashion at this wedding was show stopping. Kim is the Executive Director of International Fashion at InStyle Magazine, so she styled it out to perfection. Nick and I will always love this wedding, not only because it was full of eye candy, but also because it was our first together, and really gave us a name in wedding photography and filmmaking. Kim and Bryan took a chance on us, and we will be forever grateful for that opportunity.”
“The other one that stands out was Megan and Jeremy in Positano, Italy. There were only 22 people there, and it was the most intimate wedding we have done to date. We were able to spend so much time getting to know everyone on the trip, and have become really close friends with them now. The films Nick did for them are some of my favourite, and you can’t beat Positano as a background for photography. The party portion of this wedding was particularly memorable, and they invited us to take part in dinner with their guests. It felt like family.”
How has Wedding Ideas helped and supported your business?
“Wedding Ideas has been so good to us, and is always an amazing resource for my brides! It seems to always have the most gorgeous weddings, the best ideas (duh) and what I like most, is that the magazine is like chatting to your best friend – it isn’t stuffy or better than you. The magazine is easy to relate to, and I think that’s why it is the most popular British wedding mag out there. And, for the record, the Wedding Ideas team are coolest!”
Within the wedding industry, who else captivates and interests you?
“There are lots of good people in our industry, and we have worked with some of the most creative, amazing people in it. I have always been interested and awed by the work of Jonas Peterson – he is pretty much the best thing since sliced bread. My favourite wedding blogger is definitely Elizabeth from Bridal Musings. She has always championed our work, and is so approachable and kind. We have a great relationship and I would even call her a friend now.”
Are there any other projects you’d like to tell us about?
“We are constantly doing other projects to keep us fresh and busy and having fun. As I mentioned before, Nick and I are still shooting fashion and music back in America, and love that part of our business. I have given workshops on fashion a few times, but feel that wedding workshops are becoming too saturated these days. It seems anyone thinks they can just give a seminar… I’m not really into that, and if I ever decide to do a wedding photography seminar, I want to have major street cred to back it up and give my students something really tangible to take away from the experience. It’s not about just making a quick buck off a person who has decided to take up photography and doesn’t know any better.”
“I would love to start a photography program for kids through our studio; they are so savvy these days with Instagram, Tumblr, and their own blogs. I got my first camera phone at 22, because they didn’t exist before then – kids today have technology at their fingertips! We have to nurture this in them so that there is a technical knowledge to add to their raw talent.”
Where do you see wedding photography heading in the next few years?
“In the next few years, I think that we will see a lot of changes. There are a lot of fads that will run their course, and new ones to take their places. What those new fads will be is hard to say, but it seems that everything makes its way back somehow. It is fun (most of the time) watching people discover and experiment with photography – trying out processes and re-creating them with digital tools like Photoshop. I can’t help but think that the use of 3D photo and video will be something we see soon.”
“As a whole, I feel like the wedding photography market is becoming really, really saturated with new talent. It seems that wedding photography is the new DJ – everyone and their mother is one. What I hope does not happen, is that the industry weakens because consumers find it hard to know the difference between someone that they should and shouldn’t hire. I guess I would like to see new photographers taking the time to really learn their craft, and to spend time on it – know their tools, and not rely on the internet to teach them how to be a pro.”
“As a personal goal, we would like to continue to grow, get better and be respected within our community. I’d like to mentor some kids, and I would also like to build on our studio by grooming some associates for both photo and videography. More weddings published, more travel, and maybe a coffee table book one day. Lots of goals!”
Find out more about Maria and Studio 1208 on their amazing website.