San Francisco-based photographer Leslie Corrado has found a highly receptive market with her timeless, monochromatic prints. Her aim, she explains, is to take pictures that her clients will love 30 years from now. "When people come in here and say, 'Ah, this looks just like a picture I have of my mom,'" Corrado says that's exactly what she's aiming for.
A prominent wedding photographer whose simple, candid images evoke another era, Corrado also does significant portrait work with children, couples, and families. Her trademark photographs have appeared in publications such as Martha Stewart Living, "O" Oprah Magazine, Elegant Bride, and San Francisco Bride. In addition, her work has been exhibited in New York, San Francisco, and Florence, Italy.
Her wedding assignments have taken her all over the United States, from the warm sands of Florida to the sun-drenched island of Hawaii. All her portraits are taken outdoors with natural light and reflectors.
Although rain showers have yet to hinder one of her weddings, Corrado says if the rains came she would simply ask the group to take cover and shoot with whatever illumination remained. "As a wedding photographer you learn to go with the flow," she says. You have to have that mentality."
The absence of artificial light extends to the ceremony, for which she shoots from the back of the chapel without flash. In one photo of a bride and her father walking toward the altar, light poured through the stained-glass windows, and as Corrado snapped the picture, a guest's flash went off, lending extra light and giving the photo an ethereal feel. Serendipity is welcome in this line of work. "Some of my best pictures are mistakes," she says.
For the reception, Corrado will use on-camera flash. Armed with multiple Canon EOS-1vs, she and her two assistants take pictures of everything and everyone—from the romantic first dance to the anxiously awaited cake cutting. At the end of the day, an extraordinary 2,000 to 3,000 images have been taken. Shooting an incredibly high number of pictures ensures a vast selection, Corrado explains.
Her experience in photographing huge events stems from her days covering the social circuit for Town & Country magazine and other publications. From there, she started covering weddings and delved into the business of wedding photography.
"Coming from an artistic background, I knew how to photograph, I just didn't know how to run a wedding business," she says. To learn the particulars, she joined different organizations, attended trade shows on a continual basis, took classes, and networked with other wedding photographers around the country.
Engagement sessions are an important part of the process, explains Corrado, as she uses this time to help the couple get comfortable with being photographed and lets them know what to expect during the wedding.
by Leslie Corrado
1. Remember you're running a business.
2. Be selective about who represents you on the phone and in person. First impressions are hard to change.
3. If your business comes from 100 percent referrals, give it a 100 percent effort.
4. Be careful working for friends. Charge them as clients.
5. Prequalify clients on the phone by discussing prices. It saves everyone time and effort.
6. Don't book weddings on the Internet. You learn so more about people talking to them.
7. Select a high-end lab that doesn't waste your time with errors and redos, and a good local lab where clients can go to pick up contact sheets and quick prints.
8. Target marketing efforts at current clients. Send out mailers several times throughout the year.
9. Let your clients know what worthy causes you feel passionately about and devote your time to.