Angela Thomas “loved photography in high school. I loved the darkroom. I stuck with it in college.” One summer she interned in a commercial studio, doing tabletop photography and lighting. The next summer, she said, “It was more of a ‘people’ commercial studio. I liked the energy, intensity and stress that kind of studio offered.”
After she worked at the studio for a while, someone asked her to photograph a wedding. “It snowballed from there,” Thomas said. She has had her own business for five years, but has been “really serious the last three years.”
At this point, Thomas said, “About 75 percent of my work is weddings. The other 25 percent is portraiture — families, seniors, fun stuff like that.”
That balance is fine with Thomas. “I love weddings,” she said. “It’s a big commitment where you get to see a couple truly evolve. Usually they’ll do an engagement photo with it, so you know them anywhere from six months to a year. You get to watch these people grow and see them share the most important day of their life.”
The drawback, she said, is that “the summer gets filled up. You have to plan around the work you have. Everyone’s going on this trip, and you have to say, ‘Nope, I’m booked.’”
To be a wedding photographer, Thomas said, “You have to be extremely passionate to be successful. You have to second-shoot for a long time, you have to be extremely personable and pour your heart and soul into serving somebody else for an entire day. You have to give 100 percent of yourself to taking these pictures, making these memories that will last a lifetime. But when you get to be in a beautiful location and you’re taking beautiful pictures, it’s almost as good for you as for the client.”
What’s the biggest challenge?
I’ve had a wedding or two where it’s as if they didn’t read the information I gave them. I show up and they’re not ready, no one’s there, the family doesn’t know that they’re supposed to stay after for pictures. A couple times the groom didn’t know where he was supposed to be. I always try to combat that with as many e-mails and phone calls as possible.
What are the trends in wedding photography?
Pinterest has changed the game. Whatever is popular on Pinterest is what’s popular with brides. Last year a trend was the three-generation ring shot: Mom, grandma, and the bride.
What tips do you have for working with a photographer?
You should always meet with the photographer in person. Have a conversation before booking. The best work I do is when I connect with the client. Another big thing is to work with the light. People want to start doing photos at noon — that’s the worst time of day. Shoot later to get good, golden lighting. That’s often totally ignored. As soon as you have a date, book the photographer. Some clients need a picture for the save-the-date, which is at least six months before the wedding. For a summer wedding, you have to shoot in the winter. If you want fall colors, you have to shoot in the fall.
What’s your favorite backdrop?
Minnehaha Falls has so many hidden areas that are just beautiful. Down by the West River Parkway — under the Franklin Bridge at 35W — there’s a beautiful pathway, and I never see anyone down there. □