These days, wedding photography is a major industry. There are loads of talented individuals working in this field. So what’s the secret to distinguishing yourself from the pack? There’s probably no one right answer, but for traveling fine art wedding photographer Shannon Moffit, the right avenue proved to be refining her artistic style while enthusiastically trying her hand at all kinds of photos. In December, she was one of the winners of the RangeFinder Photography Annual. WhiteWall found out more about her work and winning entry.
© Shannon Moffit
Hi, Shannon! How did you first get interested in photography?
Since I was about ten years old, I have been intrigued by the power of visual storytelling in magazines and other printed sources. Looking back, I realize that this is where my love for photography first started. For years, I studied classical violin and fine art painting, but I was not introduced to photography until 2010, my senior year of college. That year, I carried around a 35mm film camera everywhere and fell in love with the art of photography.
What made you want to pursue photography as a career?
Between 2010 and 2013 I treated photography as a hobby, shooting a good deal of everything and perfecting my technique. At the end of 2013, I completed a Master’s Degree in counseling and started working as a therapist. I have always had a heart for people, but sitting in an office all day was hard for me. I desperately missed having the time to create art and touch people’s lives through imagery. I took the money I was supposed to use to file my residency paperwork and put it toward a photography business license and an ad on a wedding website. I booked a few weddings a couple of weeks later, and eventually photographed 20 weddings and a handful of portraits sessions my first official year in business. I am now assured that photography will be a lifelong career for me.
© Shannon Moffit
What can you tell us about your winning entry? How did you take it? What kind of camera/equipment did you shoot with? How much post-processing is involved in a great shot like this?
This specific image was part of a personal project; an attempt to push the boundaries of medium format film and create something a little moodier than the typical bright and airy look. All the photos from this set were taken on a Contax645 medium format film camera, using Portra800 film stock.
We often think about a wedding as the happiest day of a person’s life. Your photo is a quiet, contemplative moment that has the feel of painting. How did it come about? Is there a story behind it?
Thank you, that is a sweet complement! I have a deep love for 17th-century European art, so I approached this photo shoot with the goal of creating “painterly” images. The series that this photo comes from is entitled “The Forgotten Love Letters,” inspired by the enchanting script of old 1900s French love letters I found at a yard sale one summer. I was so intrigued by the texture of the paper, the antique smell, and the mystery of these forgotten letters, I felt compelled to build a visual story around them. The woman featured in the photographs is the face of “Gabrielle,” to whom the letters were written. I envisioned her sitting in a quiet space, wearing a delicately feminine wedding gown. She is calm and poised, beside an elegantly set table with sheer draped fabric, candles, and flowers. I put a lot of thought into the story, color scheme, and textures of the photo shoot, so it came to life fairly close to my original vision.
© Shannon Moffit
Any tips for photographers who want to achieve a similar look?
To create a moody, yet soft portrait like this you will want to put your subject as close as possible to a large window, avoiding direct, harsh light (an opaque white shower curtain can help diffuse harsh light). Place your backdrop behind the subject, about five to six feet behind the window, so there is much less light shining on it (because you want the subject to pop like in a painting). Since I was shooting film and wanted to make the background dark, I metered for the highlights and exposed the subject’s skin that was closest to the window.
What are your favorite substrates for wedding photo prints? Why? Do your clients tend to have similar preferences or their own ideas about what they want?
Texture makes an image more visually compelling and art-like to me, so I love printing my photos on some sort of textured paper or canvas. My clients usually order standard prints and albums. I’m not sure if they have a preference or know what they want. Unless you are a photographer or artist, you are probably not as picky about the details of a print.
© Shannon Moffit
Finding the Perfect Print Format and Framing Style: Tips from WhiteWall Booth Creative Director Andrea Scholtyssek-Kohlhase
Unlike some clients, Andrea Scholty knew exactly what she wanted when it came to producing Shannon’s photo to display at our booth at the WPPI Expo in Las Vegas. By simply uploading the digital image file on whitewall.com, the exact same way users do at home, she had Shannon’s picture made into an absolutely stunning photo print under poured resin. She explains: “The bride in Shannon Moffit’s photo is very elegant and has a classic feel. We thought it would be best to present it with our premium product, poured resin, because the highly glossy surface brings out the subtle glamor of the photograph and shows off the beautiful color nuances. The curved surface is also something truly special, elevating an already fantastic photo print to a powerful work of art.”
Shannon Moffit is a traveling fine art wedding photographer who lives with her husband and two-year-old son in Virginia.