There are many photographers in the DC area, so it can be especially hard to pick the right one.  Today I am featuring a photographer that not only has inherent talent, but with two degrees in photography, she has merit and knowledge of her craft.  It’s actually fairly easy to become a photographer, but it takes time and skill to become a great professional photographer.  Lisa Marie O’Quinn, of Sweet Tea Photography is an event and lifestyle photographer based in the Woodley Park neighborhood of Washington, DC.   One of the things I love about her work is that each image is presented in a beautiful and artful manner, while sharing the feeling and emotion of the subject.
Meet Lisa Marie!  Read this interview below for her  tips and advice for finding a photographer, trends and more….
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What is the first step a couple should take when finding a photographer?

The first step a couple should take in finding a wedding photographer is to do some researching online in finding local photographers that they are really drawn to. Once they narrow down their favorites, they should contact them and set up a time to meet for a consultation. It is really important that the bride and groom feel comfortable around this person, because they will be with them for 6-12 hours of their wedding day.

What events do I want shoot? What is the norm for engagement portrait sessions, rehearsal dinners and receptions?

I’m finding that most of my clients are hiring for engagement portraits in addition to their wedding coverage.

The engagement session really allows you to gain confidence in front of the camera and also helps in building a relationship with your photographer. Your wedding photographer spends a great amount of time with you on your on your special day, so it’s important that you feel relaxed and comfortable around this person.

I haven’t had many requests for bachelorette parties, but I do have a handful of clients requesting I photograph their rehearsal dinner.

For the most part, my clients will book me for an average of 8 hours on their wedding day.

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What is your favorite scenery in the DMV area? Are the monuments overdone in shoots?

I tend to do more shoots at Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, and the cobblestone streets of Old Town Alexandria. I feel so blessed to be in an area with such great scenery.

I also love the open fields in Leesburg and Middleburg and the urban feel of the city!

On that note, I’ve recently learned that I really enjoy focusing more on the couple rather than the background. This allows for the angles that looks nice on the couple rather than having to fit the background or monuments in the shot.

What tips do you have for posing a couple? What makes the most relaxed photographs?

The engagement session really prepares the couple for the wedding day and allows them to become more familiar with my shooting style. The engagement portrait sessions are much more casual than the wedding day. We are much more relaxed and essentially it’s like they’re on a date and I’m just documenting it! It’s such a fun time!

I have a series of poses that I go through with each couple at each location. I try to keep them more natural and less structured….so they don’t look forced. I have clients start by holding hands and walking towards me while pretending I’m not there. This usually brings them into other nice poses without direction. It’s a pretty fast paced thing once they forget I’m there; they naturally start laughing at each other and joking during the session.

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Should you get a photographer and a videographer for the wedding? Or do some companies do both?  

Most wedding photography companies in the area are boutique styled. They’re pretty small companies, so they don’t offer videographers along with their photography services. Videography is something very specialized. I can refer them to a few people in the area who I think do a great job. I have found that many clients have cut videography out of their budget in the past couple of years, which of course is sad but not my decision to make.

What do you shoot with? Is there a camera brand out there that my photographer should be using?

I don’t think that the camera brand really matters in choosing the photographer you’re hiring. Though it is really important that they are comfortable with a variety of equipment, lighting situations, and prepared for any situation.

What are the most popular photo trends happening in the DC area right now?

In the past 6 years, more fine art photographers have become wedding photographers, due to the market change. It’s always been hard to make a living as a fine-art photographer but even more so in the 5-6 years.  It is also extremely competitive trying to pursue a professorship of photography. So many of these photographers have branched into the wedding world and have transformed the look and style of wedding photography. I guess you can say that I was one of those photographers, because I did go to graduate school for photography, but I did figure out early on during my graduate studies that weddings was where I wanted to be. I like to think that later on in my life I will feel more excited about a professorship and teaching what I’ve learned!

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How has iPhone technology and apps like Instagram changed your business? Are there any apps that you recommend for the big day?

It really hasn’t affected my business. Instagram and IPhone photography is lower quality than the shots from the cameras we have. You can print from these files but they aren’t great quality images. On the wedding day, people will do a hashtag for their wedding to see what guests were up to on their wedding day. 

Does Pinterest impact your shooting at all?

Brides will definitely make Pinterest boards and send them my way. This is really helpful because it’s hard for me to know exactly what they’re thinking unless they share a little bit of the look they’re going for. I also use Pinterest to help bring more attention to the Sweet Tea website.

More of Lisa Marie’s great work:

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Follow Sweet Tea Photography 

Website & Blog: www.MySweetTeaPhoto.com
Questions?  Email me anytime –  thebrightoccasions@gmail.com –www.thebrightoccasions.com