Marci Curtis is our newest Michigan Wedding Photojournalist! Marci shared with us a little background about herself and how she got started, her advice for photographers just starting out, and what she loves most about wedding photography:
How did you get started?
I started working for the local newspaper right out of college at the Ann Arbor News shooting a lot of football. I then worked for the Associated Press for over six years covering two presidential primaries. It turns out that was a great training ground for shooting weddings. It made me find creative ways to shoot and tell behind the scenes stories at events that often had access issues and might look on the surface to outsiders as “repetitive”. They were also usually at places with terrible lighting. I didn’t shoot my first wedding until I’d been a photojournalist for over 6 years! I soon discovered that I loved the people I was shooting, the happiness I got to document and I didn’t have to schmooze the Secret Service in order to get great shots!
What’s your photography style?
I’m a true photojournalist through and through. Yes, I’ve learned to do the poses, the details and groups, but my strength and the thing that sets me apart from photographers offering “photojournalistic packages” is that my training is to anticipate moments, have extreme patience, become completely invisible to my clients and to creative problem solve on the fly. This takes years and years and years of practice. I can spot a situation that might derail a wedding a mile away! Nowadays I set my news background aside and fix it before it happens, but there used to be a time when I would just document the train wreck. Capturing real moments is great, but also the ability to keep them all positive is even better!
What’s a typical day like for you?
I usually arrive to watch the transformation of the bride from “chick in jeans” to the princess bride. It gives me a chance to quickly help out, then disappear behind the lens. Most couples simply forget I’m there until the time comes when family photos are needed. Then I switch gears and let everybody in on my game plan so we can get through all the posing in about half an hour. Then I go back to my ninja routine.
Is there a workshop you’ve attended or book that you can recommend to photographers just starting out?
I don’t attend formal workshops and seminars anymore. Instead, I try to lunch with and network with other nearby photographers who share things in common like great customer service, a love for their job, pushing their creative envelopes and stellar reputations. I find I can learn a lot more from them than I can from pros who charge an arm and a leg, have umpteen assistants and have been in the business for a much shorter time than I have! The best course you can take is by finding a photographer in your area whose work and reputation you admire and by volunteering (yes, volunteering) your services as an apprentice. Short of giving yourself daily shooting assignments, learning your equipment backwards and forwards and knowing every single thing about lighting – you’ve got to learn the art of multi tasking with a smile on your face and a positive attitude!
What piece of equipment would you say is most important to you?
My heart. If you’re in this for the money you won’t last long! I love what I do and I come to love my clients. I become so emotionally invested in their wedding day stories that we often end up forging lifelong friendships.
What do you offer that is special or unique?
Just about everything I’ve offered that is original or unique has now become the industry standard; photojournalist’s style, ownership of images, photobooths, day of slideshows…. all those things were once considered very unique! Now all I have to offer is that out of over 600 wedding couples, I have yet to get a complaint! That’s both unique and special!
What is your biggest challenge as a business owner?
Google rankings! True, but the most challenging thing to professional photographers all over the world is that now everyone is a photographer. That’s great in many ways, but it’s also meant that the wedding photography business is being inundated by people who just don’t have the skills, equipment, experience or patience to be shooting weddings. They figure they have a decent camera and their friends like their photos, so why not just shoot weddings?! They don’t seem to appreciate that weddings are the most challenging of all photography. I’ve heard more horror stories about botched weddings in the past five years than I ever heard before and that’s really distressing!
What do you love most about your job?I love getting to know all the nitty, gritty details of the love story unfolding in front of me. Maybe it’s my journalism background, maybe I nosy by nature, but I love, love, love that I get to know the inside scoop!