“The engagement shoot is necessary. I get to know the couple’s angles. Everyone has a sweet spot.”
Shawn Connell of Christian Oth Studio
When did you shoot your first wedding?
About ten years ago, when I lived in Australia and worked as a photojournalist. My art director asked me to shoot her wedding. The third wedding I did was for the prime minister’s daughter. That was my big break.
How many weddings do you shoot a year now?
Between 25 and 30. I book up—call twelve months ahead.
How does the vetting process work?
You meet the photographer—hopefully in a studio—and look at his portfolio. Make sure to ask to see more than one album, both outdoor and indoor shots, and bear in mind that personality is the most important factor. If he’s very controlling, on the day of, there’s nothing worse. Another red flag is if the price is too cheap.
It’s hard to know what they’re really like based on a single meeting.
Well, go by reputation. Search wedding blogs for unbiased information. Abby Larson’s stylemepretty.com is a great one.
What does a typical package include and cost?
My prices start at $9,500, which includes an engagement shoot, eight hours on the day of, my technical assistant, and proofing. That price is negotiable, especially if you book with a shorter lag time. ou should budget for albums separately.
How necessary are second shooters?
They’re very important. No matter how great your photographer is, he can only be in one place at a time. Having a second photographer means I have more time to spend on the details. They’re not too much more expensive—around $2,000.
You must have shot in some gorgeous locations. Tell us about one you love.
The New York Public Library. I shot one wedding there where they covered the entire room with candles. All that candlelight was a spectacular visual, and it meant that we didn’t have to use flash photography, which I love. There is certain lighting that doesn’t translate well into pictures—bright spotlights. They can create too much contrast.
What else looks bad in photos?
Well, I think that the fish-eye lens should only be used in moderation.
Is shooting in the rain a nightmare?
No, it’s fantastic! You’ve got umbrellas, and there’s more drama. Sure it’s a lot harder—I’ve had cameras die—but it creates more opportunities for really incredible images.
Ever been trampled by a dancing crowd?
No. But at one reception I slipped on fake snow and smashed my camera. Luckily I always take a few backups with me.
I know. The camera went flying in the air, I went flying in the air, and I fell on my ass.
Do you manage to have fun at weddings?
Yeah, I actually get upset when I don’t have a wedding over the weekend. And you know what, I’m probably the only photographer I know who has never picked up a girl at a wedding.
From the Summer 2009 New York Wedding Guide