Wedding Photographer Charleston, SC Rachel Red Photography shoots a wedding at Wentworth by the Sea in New Hampshire, United States

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Wedding Photographer : Rachel Red Photography  
Couple : Rebecca + Cory
Wedding Photographer Charleston, SC
Ceremony Location : Wentworth by the Sea in New Hampshire
Reception : Wentworth by the Sea in New Hampshire
Wedding Date : 29 August 2015

Tell us a little about yourself??

I’m a luxury wedding photographer based in Charleston, South Carolina who loves southern hospitality and my sweet puppy, Emma.

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How do you think or would like people to describe you?

I’m a bubbly yet assertive woman who gets the job done.

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Tell us a little bit about the wedding day?

This specific wedding day was easy breezy. The couple was laid back and fun. Leander from The I Do Scene (coordinator) was amazing to work with. The light was incredibly harsh during the ceremony, but that’s wedding photography for you. We made up for it with some sunset photos.

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How did you get into wedding photography?

I was studying theater in college and needed a job to help pay my cell phone bill, so I got a job at a local portrait studio as a secretary. Eventually I was coerced into learning film photography and studio lighting. It was fun, but nothing I ever thought I’d make a career out of. I asked a friend of mine if I could join her as a 3rd shooter at a wedding just to see what it was like. She made me pay her $50 to do so. Thinking back on it, maybe she wasn’t so much a friend as a swindler. ha But that did it for me. I loved weddings. I quit my job shortly after and pursued wedding photography full time. That was 13 years ago.

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How long have you been a wedding photographer?

This is my 14th season. It’s only my 4th as a business owner, though. I worked for a company as their lead photographer for a long while before venturing out on my own.

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Can you share how you've made your wedding photography business a success? Any mistakes you made along the way?

I’m still new, so I can’t say that my success has reached a pinnacle yet, but I will say that cross promotion and marketing has been a huge help for me. I connected with some bigger names in the blogging world right off the bat and they really helped get my name out there. My biggest mistake was probably paying for ad space instead of investing in personal projects that made me happy.

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What do you think a bride or groom should be looking for and not looking for in terms of wedding photography packages?

Consistency with lighting is the number one thing a bride and groom should look for in a wedding photographer. There are some great natural light photographers that really struggle with indoor, low-lit situations and they conveniently don’t put that type of work on their website. It’s a little sneaky in my opinion, but it works for them. So I would suggest to ask to see a full wedding from beginning to end in a similar situation as their wedding. If you don’t love 99% of the work you see on the photographer’s website, don’t expect to like your images. They are showing the best work they’ve ever produced, hopefully, and hiding the things they don’t love.

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How do you advertise yourself and what for you has really worked?

I try to connect with event designers, coordinators and venues for referrals. That’s where the majority of my work comes from, besides word of mouth. I’ve done all the advertising under the sun with blogs and magazines. Nothing brings in leads that are reasonable budgets except for Style Me Pretty, so I stick with their basic plan and use the rest of my marketing budget to buy gifts for my favorite vendors and to treat my current customers like gold.

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Why do you think people hire you?

There are a ton of photographers in my city, but not very many that have more than 5 years of experience in the industry. I am also a consistent shooter and editor, so they know exactly what they are going to get. I treat people well and strive to create heirloom quality products that coincide with a luxury experience and personalized customer care.

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How many weddings do you average per year?

I currently shoot 30-35 weddings per year, but am looking to limit myself to 20 next year with a price increase.

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Whose wedding would you love to shoot?

I honestly love working with designers, stylists, and creatives. They usually have great taste and realistic expectations, so it makes for a fun day. I’ve worked with celebrities, but that type of reach is not something I’m specifically striving for. People are people. If a couple is truly in love and put their images as a top priority, we’ll get along swimmingly.

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If you were asked to shoot a destination wedding, where would you hope it would be?

I’m intrigued by Greece and Italy but I honestly love working in Charleston. It’s one of the most beautiful cities in the world and there are beautiful weddings here.

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What equipment do you have for a typical wedding day?

I work with Canon 5D Mark IIIs, Canon and Zeiss prime lenses, and am slowly building up my film equipment with Contax645s. I keep lighting very simple with Speedlight 600 flashes on stands.

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What is the most challenging thing about a wedding.

The pace is sometimes a challenge because everyone tends to think they can do a cocktail hour in less than an hour. ha

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Do you have an approach to a wedding?

My approach is to get as much information before the wedding day as possible so that I don’t have to ask too many questions when it’s show time. I’m a planner, so I discuss lighting situations, locations, family portraits, detail shots, and every other important aspect about a month before. I always arrive on set an hour before my start time and I always leave late so that I can say goodbye to the key vendors and bride’s parents. And I just go with the flow. Weddings are beautiful movements all on their own.

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Who or what inspires you?

I’m determined to make a name for myself in this crazy, cut throat industry so I do tend to look at people who are making something out of a career that most only partially pay the bills with. Jose Villa kind of spear headed the fine art photography movement from what I’ve heard, so I follow him to see what his next move will be. And also because his pictures are gorgeous. I also look at Tec Petaja, Corbin Gurkin, and Ryan Ray from time to time. All of their styles are similar. Clean and classic with a little bit of film.

The south and southern traditions are also really inspiring to me. I came from a northern state where people rarely said hello to each other. It was a lonely way to live. As soon as I moved to Charleston, I had friends in the industry and found myself in warm, welcoming situations. The pineapple is South Carolina’s sign of hospitality. They used to drive them through their fence posts to show that they are ready to host and welcome guests. It’s my goal to always have that pineapple on the fence post, figuratively speaking - to newbie photographers and to opportunity, really.

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Best & Worst marketing idea so far?

I think I mentioned this before, but best is probably setting up my very first styled shoot myself and submitting it to Style Me Pretty. I booked over a dozen clients my first year in business from that and it helped me get off to a great start quickly. My worst was spending over $3k US on ad space in a regional magazine that did not bring me one wedding. Two leads that were both under budget. Never again. I’ll stick with local vendors, word of mouth, instagram and Style Me Pretty thank you.

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If you weren't a photographer, what would you be?

I have crazy dreams of being an interior designer one day. Maybe when I’m in my 40s. We’ll see.

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Share your favourite image of the day and why?

This was really hard for me. I’m not the type that has one outstanding image and the rest are meh. I try to have a consistent level of quality that simply tells a story. Nothing wild or crazy. So I guess this image of the couple was my favorite simply because I didn’t tell him to cup her face like that. He just simply embraced her the way he does because he loves her. This is why I shoot weddings.

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Do you have any goals for the future photography related or otherwise?

I’m definitely a dreamer, so yes I’d love to streamline my business quite a bit and work 8-10 weddings a year eventually at a much higher price point. I’ll bring on some employees to take on the weddings that I’m currently doing at this level as well. And then I’ll probably expand to event design because how fun is that?! I’d also love to write a book about the business side of a creative business.

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What do you think is key to being a successful wedding photographer?

Business. It’s 85% of the job. I mean, don’t get me wrong. Know your craft. Know your camera. Be excellent. But the more you know about business, the more successful you will be. SEO, taxes, and marketing are huge and will change how hard you have to work.

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Are there any other wedding photographers whose work inspires you, can be a well know photographer or somebody you've stumbled across?

See above.

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Proudest moment so far. Photography related or otherwise?

My proudest moment was probably my first publication. I look back at it and remember dancing in my pajamas through the house thinking that I was hot stuff. ha!

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