Shannon Bray, founder and lead photographer of Shannon Bray Photography, has been making waves in the field of wedding photography. The Plunge spoke with her about the unique photos she takes at these off-the-beaten-path weddings, and asked her how you can do the same.
What kinds of weddings are these?
They’re a little in between offbeat/hipster and traditional. I’ve done some crazy offbeat weddings. I recently did a wedding for a couple from Epic Ink. It was crazy-cool. Everyone was all tatted and so chill. To tell the truth, I’m really open to doing it all, and I really want to try to do keep doing that. I’m all about offbeat.
So do you notice a stark difference between your photos and the ones taken by other photographers?
A lot of photographers have work similar to mine… But a lot of those photographers don’t have a personal connection to their clients. You can tell in the photos. The people are posing and they look stiff. They’re looking directly and the camera and there is a grin that doesn’t exactly look real.
I like to have a connection with my clients. This makes the photos so much more comfortable, so much more candid. Like, I have brides that text me pictures of their dress and decorations. I like to be close with my clients; you don’t want them to feel like they have a stranger at their wedding. Especially a stranger that is supposed to document it. You want them to feel like you’re a part of the wedding, so that you capture how really beautiful the day was.
What’s your photo style, then?
Candid. Natural. Simple. No poses. I like to hang out in the back and snap pictures when no one is paying attention. I would definitely say my style is “lifestyle.” But there’s a fashion background. The photos are still glamorous.
For example, the end of the reception is my favorite moment to capture on film. Oh wow, the bride and groom are so happy and relaxed. It’s like the weight of the day is finally over, they did it – and they can feel their life beginning. That is pure bliss on their face right there.
And your clients?
Probably on the younger side, I’d say. But that’s who’s getting married nowadays! I think that’s why they can relate to me so much. I am honestly myself with them. Nothing fake, no frills. My clients are down-to-earth, honest people – and so am I.
Okay. So based on all this – and your own distinctive standpoint on weddings – what advice would you give to men looking for photographers?
Definitely find a photographer you feel like you have a connection with. Again, you don’t want a stranger there on your wedding day. You don’t want weird vibes.
So how would you recommend going about finding that special photographer who is right for you?
A lot of my weddings come from referrals. Look on Facebook and on social media, see who your friends and family are going to. Don’t trust just Googling! You have to ask around. It’s very likely that the people who you’re connecting with online have the same kind of visual taste as you. They’ll help you get in touch with the photographer who is right for you.
And then meet with as many of these photographers as possible. Talk to them about what you’re planning on doing at your wedding. Just chat with them, really. You’ll know if you’re on the same page. I also really love this part, because you really get a feel for who this couple is.
Shannon Bray Photography is located in Los Angeles. She works nationally and internationally as well. With a background in fashion (currently still does work as a photographer in the industry) she has a special eye for capturing the rad and the different. She photographs personal portraits of families; and works as a photographer for bands — but she spends most of her time photographing weddings.
“I really look at it as the most exciting day of those people’s life,” she says. “And a bunch of people (pretty much everyone there!) are really stoked on life. I love being around happy people on such a big day.”
To see more of her work, visit her at shannonalexabray.com