Capturing the Moment

If a wedding is in your future, you’re probably looking for a photographer whose approach and aesthetic aligns with yours. Savage Mill is home to three creative, dedicated photographers who specialize in weddings. Below is a summary of conversations we had with them. Perhaps you’ll discover a style and personality that will work well for your big day. While they each have their own approach, they all agree that the story they convey in their work is timeless: love.

We started with Lee Hickman with Weddings by Lee Photography, finding him in his well-lit studio in Savage Mill’s Spinning Building.

How did you get into wedding photography?

I went to The Portfolio Center, a commercial photography school, where I studied commercial photography, graduated and started a successful commercial photography studio lasting 17 years. I had studios in several states and traveled around the world on various projects. Looking for a new challenge, I turned to the word of wedding photography where I fell in love with photography all over again. I am blessed to have photographed over 400 weddings so far.

Faithbrook Barn & Vineyard, Luray VA (c) Weddings by Lee Photography

How does wedding photography differ from other types of photography?

So, there are many categories of photography to include commercial, portrait, landscape, sports …etc, but wedding photography is the most important and most rewarding. During a wedding, not only is your photographer responsible for capturing your most important memories but they will also coordinate the timing of the day and make sure everything goes smoothly so you can relax and have fun with your friends and family.

Wedding photo in Venice Beach, CA (c) Weddings by Lee Photography

What is unique about your approach?

I pride myself on capturing images that are Authentic, Spirited and Emotional for couples that are truly romantic, crazy in love and most adventurous at heart.

Wedding photo, DC (c) Weddings by Lee Photography

What was your most memorable photo shoot?

All my weddings are unique in their own way, but if I had to pick one it would be an elopement shoot in San Francisco. The couple found me on Instagram and flew me to San Francisco to photograph their elopement. Not only did I shoot the elopement day but I traveled with them in their 66 VW bus up and down the California coast line for 3 days documenting their adventure, and yes, I slept in the van as well.

Next, we headed down the second floor hallway in the Carding Building to the sunny studio of James McCrae with James McCrae Multimedia.

How did you get into wedding photography?

While videography remains my initial passion, venturing into wedding photography stemmed organically from the requests of satisfied clients. Initially, I felt a touch of apprehension, but after a few shoots, I was captivated by the unique artistic demands and profound impact of the medium.

Wedding photography offers a thrilling opportunity to capture fleeting, emotional moments and distill them into timeless visual narratives. It’s a privilege to be entrusted with preserving such a significant chapter in a couple’s story, and the resulting impact on their lives is incredibly fulfilling.

(c) McCrae Multimedia

How does wedding photography differ from other types of photography?

Wedding photography is so unique because it’s a thrilling high-stakes challenge! You have this one amazing opportunity to perfectly capture all those precious moments, and there’s truly no room for error. It’s a demanding field, but incredibly rewarding.

The emotional weight of a wedding means the world to your clients, making it a deeply personal responsibility. That’s why I invest so much in meticulous preparation, careful attention during the event, and a streamlined post-wedding workflow – I want to create an absolutely seamless, joyful experience for the couple. After all, when the celebration ends, those photos and videos are their tangible treasures of that special day!

(c) McCrae Multimedia

What is unique about your approach?

My approach to wedding photography transcends capturing beautiful images; it’s about fostering genuine connections and providing comprehensive support throughout the entire wedding journey. My extensive experience with various vendors, locations, and concepts allows me to assist couples in crafting a personalized and seamless wedding experience from the very beginning.

Beyond capturing stunning visuals, I become a trusted confidant and resource for my clients. Whether it’s offering advice on makeup artists, posing directions, or even the overall wedding flow – traditionally a planner’s domain – I leverage my firsthand knowledge to ensure a smooth and enjoyable day.

I strive to go the extra mile, even running errands for forgotten items or offering a positive pep talk during moments of stress. This deep engagement fosters genuine connections during the entire process, from pre-planning and engagement sessions to the wedding day itself. Many of my clients have become lifelong friends – a testament to the unique bond created through this collaborative experience.

(c) McCrae Multimedia

What do you attempt to convey through your work?

My ultimate goal is to create an exceptional experience for my clients, ensuring they feel joy, satisfaction, and a genuine sense of connection throughout the entire process. Positive reviews on my Google page are certainly appreciated, but the most rewarding validation comes from client referrals. Having them recommend me to their loved ones for wedding photography and videography signifies their trust and confidence in my abilities.

Furthermore, when these valued clients entrust me with capturing other life moments, like maternity photos, headshots, family portraits, or holiday gatherings, it truly warms my heart. This ongoing relationship speaks volumes about their satisfaction and their desire to continue working with me on their life’s precious milestones.

In essence, my photography endeavors to visually capture the essence of my clients’ experience – happiness, love, fun, uniqueness, and confidence – creating a lasting visual legacy that reflects the emotions and memories of their special occasions.

(c) McCrae Multimedia

What was your most difficult photo shoot?

I’ve been fortunate enough to capture a multitude of stunning weddings, but one particular day will forever hold a special place in my heart. It was a day filled with both immense joy and heartbreaking grief.

The bride, a woman I connected with over her sweet nature and strong bond with her father, exuded happiness throughout the day. Little did we know, she was facing an unimaginable situation behind the scenes. During the reception, we learned her father, who was to walk her down the aisle, wouldn’t be able to due to unforeseen circumstances. Sadly, the news soon turned devastating as we learned he had passed away.

Witnessing their strength and resilience in the face of such tragedy was truly humbling. Despite the darkness, the couple chose to celebrate their love and cherish the day with their loved ones. My heart went out to them and everyone affected by this unexpected loss.

On a brighter note, another unforgettable experience was documenting a wedding in Italy. Traveling abroad for weddings has always been a dream, and finding myself capturing a ceremony on the Amalfi Coast, amidst breathtaking scenery, was truly magical. It’s a memory I’ll forever cherish.

Looking back, one of my favorite photographs holds a special significance. It was an image from one of my very first weddings, a shot of the couple gazing out at the Pacific Ocean during a glorious sunset. The lighting, timing, and the sheer beauty of the moment all came together perfectly. The photo went viral on social media, and it was a turning point in my career, attracting a wave of wonderful clients.

While there, we spoke with Heather, owner of AverieSun Photography, also a second-floor studio in the Carding Building.

How did you get into wedding photography?

A few days after our wedding, I expressed my interest in photography to my husband. He surprised me by purchasing a camera and a laptop, and that marked the beginning of my journey in photography.

Charles and Tiffany (c) AverieSun Photography

What is unique about your approach?

I treat wedding photography as if it’s the start of a new friendship. Building a genuine connection with the couple is important to me; many of them remain friends even after the event.

James and Phi (c) AverieSun Photography

What do you attempt to convey through your work?

My aim is to capture the profound connection between the couple, allowing their love to radiate through the photographs for their family and friends to witness. My ultimate goal is for the couple to experience the same emotions they felt on their wedding day even 29 years down the road.

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