Today’s featured photog is Sarah Bray Photography! Her work is dreamy, bright and airy. Simply put, just amazing. She’s also one of my studio mates and one of the sweetest and most kind-hearted people I know. I am so grateful for this crazy photography journey of mine, otherwise I would not have met her. :) Enjoy!
Q. Welcome, Sarah! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
A. I’m 31 years old, wife to my wonderful husband Chris, mom to 2 boys – Jack (12) and Owen (4) and expecting a sweet little girl in the next week or so! I specialize in wedding and boudoir photography in Central Florida. I’m somewhat of an introvert, but I truly do love working with people and I absolutely adore weddings. I like to keep things simple and uncomplicated and find a lot of beauty and contentment in living that way.
Q. How and when did you get into photography?
A. Photography has been an interest of mine for a very long time, but I would say I got really serious about things like exposure, composition and lighting after the birth of my second son, almost five years ago.
Q. How long have you been in business and what do you specialize in?
A. I started portfolio building in October of 2007, but wasn’t really in business until the end of 2008. I started out shooting family, children and lifestyle portraiture and moved into weddings in the Spring of 2009. From that point on, I would say I’ve specialized in weddings and boudoir photography – those are the two things that I’m most passionate about and that I love the most.
Q. Natural light v. studio light?
A. Other than wedding receptions, 100% natural/available light.
Q. Tell us about your camera gear. Any gear on your wish list?
A. Right now, I shoot with a Canon 5D mark ii, with a 5D as my backup. My 50mm 1.4 is on my camera 85% of the time, it’s definitely my go-to lens for detail shots and portraits. I’m also somewhat obsessed with my 100mm macro, especially for ring shots. Other lenses/gear in my bag: 28mm 1.8, 35mm 1.8, 85mm 1.8, Canon 580Ex and pocket wizard tt5s and Rogue flash bouncers (mostly only use these for wedding receptions.) My most coveted lens is, and always has been the Canon 50mm 1.2.
Q. How would you describe your style of shooting; your style of editing?
A. I don’t do a lot of artistic editing, I truly rely heavily on good lighting to give my work it’s signature “look”. I try to shoot as close to sunset as possible (usually an hour before) to capture those soft, golden tones. Otherwise, I’ll seek out areas of open shade and/or backlight my subject(s). As far as editing, I do most of my post-processing in Adobe Photoshop CS5, mainly just curves adjustments/contrast adjustment and sharpening. If I use any actions, they’re from Florabella or Totally Rad Actions.
Q. What’s your favorite part of the wedding day to photograph?
A. That’s a tough question – there’s so much that I love. But, my heart really lies with portraits – both of the bride and groom together, and of the bride before the wedding. I particularly love photographing women and feminine beauty (probably why I also love boudoir photography) and to me, a woman on her wedding day is the definition of beauty and grace.
Q. What’s your best marketing tool? Where do most of your clients come from?
A. I know it sounds like a cliche’ – but word of mouth has really been my best form of advertising. Though I will say, it took longer than I thought for that method to bear fruit. I’ve also had success with the occasional bridal show and my Facebook business page. Most of my brides are referred to me by past or present clients, friends/acquaintances or other wedding vendors and photographers.
Q. What has been the best advice you have received on your photography journey?
A. Under-promise and over-deliver. From the first point of contact to the moment they receive their finished product, I always try to make sure the customer service experience my clients receive is top notch. I also like to include lots of little extras to make them feel special and pampered — whether it’s a new client welcome gift or a thank-you gift for choosing me as their photographer, I think (and hope) those extra touches stand out to my clients and make the whole experience a really positive one.
Q. What’s something you wish you knew when you first started out?
A. How much of my time would be dedicted to building a business vs. actually shooting. I do enjoy that side of running a business, I just wasn’t quite prepared for the scope of it when I started out, and it’s quite hard to find information on exactly what you need to do to legitimize your business. I also wish I had known that burnout and self-doubt can be a natural part of the process of defining yourself as an artist and building a business. You really have to push yourself through some trying times and figure out what works for YOU in order to be successful, long-term, in this industry.
Q. Who or what are your photography inspirations?
A. Elizabeth Messina and Jose Villa of course; I’m constantly inspired by their creativity. I also read a lot of wedding blogs and magazines and am just generally inspired by kind, positive, creative people. I also adore Marianne Drenthe of Marmalade Photography, even though she and I specialize in different areas of photography. I did a one-on-one workshop with her in 2009 and still consider that one of the defining moments in my photography journey. She saw something in my wedding work that just wasn’t 100% there in my portrait work and gently nudged me to pursue that more. I’m so grateful for advice and guidance and continue to be inspired by her!
Q. Any parting words of inspiration or tips for those starting out?
A. Don’t rush things, let them evolve naturally. Be open to trying new things and figuring out what you truly love. Find your own style and work on refining it. Also, make connections with other photographers – most love to help others who are just starting out; just be respectful of the time and hard work they’ve put in to developing their craft and don’t expect them to give all their secrets away
Thank you so much, Sarah! You can find Sarah here: