Lauren Brimhall is a NJ-based moment-driven photographer, who was ranked among the top 25 wedding photographers in the world for Fearless and Wedding Photojournalist Association (WPJA) for 2017. She has received numerous awards from the International Society of Professional Wedding Photographers (ISPWP), Masters of Wedding Photography, Wedding Photography Select, and This is Reportage, along with having work featured on the cover of magazines and countless blogs and websites. She believes amazing photography achieved with great lighting, extremely hard work, and a unique sense of humor.
I can assure you that you would never regret choosing Lauren as your photographer! You will, however, have to learn to deal with all the compliments that you’ll get from her pictures.
How did you get into wedding photography?
In spite of being very artistically inclined since childhood, I never had any desire to be a “starving artist,” so I pursued journalism instead. My first job out of college was writing for three different Photography Trade Magazines; Studio Photography & Design, Digital Imaging Techniques, and Photo District News. This provided me the opportunity to meet some of the best photographers of 2005/2006 and exposed me to some truly amazing images. The only expensive thing I ever owned was my digital camera and my favorite thing to do was go out partying at night, drinking, dancing, acting ridiculous and then sharing all the pictures I didn’t remember taking with my friends on social media. It wasn’t until my own wedding years later, when I realized how much wedding photographers cost, that I decided maybe I COULD make money in art after all… and I immediately knew photography was it for me. I was able to reach out to a few of the very talented photographers I had met and kept in touch with and exchanged modeling for private photography lessons.
Do you have a recent favorite photo that you have taken? Tell us how you took it and why you like it?
I believe I do, and so far it is one that has won zero awards to date. First, I broke my toe badly in an open wound three days prior to this wedding, but didn’t let that stop me from shooting it with the same fervor that I do every other wedding, so in part, getting any photo I loved at this wedding was a testament to my commitment to this job and my clients. Second, this image is as perfect to me as one of my images can get. The way the streamer is cutting perfectly across both her eyes and another across his nose in a big colorful tangle offers a stitch of humor. Meanwhile, the elated expressions on both their faces, their intertwined hands in the foreground, and the close range it was captured with a 35 to fill the frame make me feel like I am standing right there speed-walking backwards on my broken toe in front of them all over again… living that happiness with them.
What really gets you emotional when you’re shooting a wedding?
I don’t get emotional often, but when I feel I’ve captured a moment or memory as perfectly as I could for one of my clients, it’s one of the few things that make me really happy for the rest of the day.
How do you put a couple at ease before and during their big day?
Generally speaking, I am not afraid to be myself and let my personality come through. I will curse in front of my clients, make bad jokes, dance badly at their reception, or say things bordering on inappropriate. I expose them to who I am because I want them to in turn feel comfortable sharing THEMSELVES with me. I am a judgement-free zone.
What is it about being a wedding photographer you love?
My wedding was nine years ago now, and I have essentially forgotten everything that was not photographed. It’s very depressing how feeble the human mind is, and how as much as we like to think at the time, “I’ll never forget this moment,” the sad reality is that eventually we do. That is, UNLESS there are pictures. Knowing my images are literally giving people memories back that they would have otherwise lost brings me so much joy.
What is it about being a wedding photographer that you don’t love so much?
I particularly dislike taking portraits in high-pressure situations. My ideal wedding would be one where I could show up and document the entire day candidly from start to finish but I know that’s not usually realistic. It’s just stressful being given 15 minutes to create mind-blowing bride and groom portraits with a parking lot as your backdrop. Michael Angelo didn’t paint the Sistine Chapel in 15 minutes with washable kid paints. However, I realize portraits are an important service to my clients, so I do in fact do my best to take beautiful ones, regardless of circumstances.
If you could change one thing about the wedding industry what would it be?
In the absence of a wedding planner, the expectation that the wedding photographer is the wedding planner. It’s one thing to help create timelines for clients with photography in mind, but I can’t begin to explain how many times I get asked during the day “what do we do now?” Or, “can you keep us on schedule?” When I’m documenting a wedding, it takes ALL of my focus to capture these important moments. To anticipate them happening, to be in the right place at the right time with the correct settings, etc., I don’t want to be checking my phone for the time (when it’s not going to make the makeup get done any faster anyway) or telling you where to go and what to do next. To me, that’s basically turning your wedding into a photoshoot, when all I really want is for you to live and enjoy the day to its absolute fullest while I capture it to the very best of my ability.
What photography kit do you have in your bag & what is your favourite?
Multiple Nikon D750 camera bodies, and I’m kind of proud of the fact I’ve shot an amazing year without needing Sony mirrorless cameras. I am a lens junky but my 35mm is always on one of my two cameras. I can’t live without that thing.
What is your favourite part of the day?
Getting Ready and the Reception because they are the most unscripted and informal. People tend to let their personalities shine more during these parts of the day as opposed to during the ceremony.
What tips would you give a couple on choosing a wedding photographer?
Look at a full gallery of images that have been delivered to a client. Pretend that these are your memories, and take into consideration not just the number of images that are delivered, but the number of UNIQUE moments that are captured. See if the guests and other people at the wedding besides the bride and groom are well represented. Ask yourself if they are being photographed looking bored or are they photographed while laughing or crying or having a funny conversation. Imagine that they were YOUR friends and family, and remember that you invited them to your wedding for a reason. Remind yourself that it’s just as important to see WHO they are in the picture, and NOT just what they looked like.
Why do you think couples choose you?
I want to say because of my images, but that is only half true. People like my images because of the part of myself that is in each one that is in my portfolio. They are little bit silly, mostly candid, ridiculously happy or emotionally heart-wrenching, and as quirky or unique as I can make them. All of these things are strong aspects of my personality as well, and once they speak to me on the phone, it’s a pretty cohesive picture of who they would be hiring to photograph their wedding.
How do you relax when you’re not shooting weddings?
What is this thing you call relaxing? In the words of Charlie Sheen, I basically have one speed, GO. I guess that makes sense then that going for a good, long run outdoors is one of the few things that destresses me. I also journal in the mornings and occasionally still draw or paint in the rare instances when I’m caught up on editing.
What are you looking forward to and why?
Honestly, I eat, sleep, breathe, and work for my children. I don’t have anything for myself that I am currently looking forward to that doesn’t involve them. So I guess the answer to this question is that I look forward watching my kids grow up, seeing what kind of people they will become, and doing my best to support them in everything they do.