There are many chapters in life that make great photographs. From the courtship to the proposal to marriage and the future, weddings are just a small part of the big picture. Shaun Austin, of L.A. Photography in Orange County, California, hopes that chapter is just the start of a long story with his clients.
"Weddings are our forte, but that is just the beginning of our relationship with the couple," he says. "We want clients to be so happy with their images that they call the studio for pregnancy photos and the births of their children. One of our many goals is to share each chapter of our clients' lives as they unfold. We want to be a part of the sequel to their book someday and photograph their kids' weddings."
Austin creates that book using a combination of photojournalism and fashion with a pinch of traditional photography. Most of the traditional, posed shots are of the family. "The time I spend alone with the bride is mostly for fashion shots. Most brides feel stunning on their wedding day and enjoy being treated like a model. I also rely heavily on photojournalism. It is my passion to gather evidence of this special day. If I have done my job right, a friend who was unable to attend the wedding should be able to flip through the album and feel as if she were sitting in the front row."
The book of love is both literal and figurative for Austin. Figuratively, he likes to capture the emotion of the day and show how the couple truly feels. Literally, he's passionate about the album process.
All of L.A. Photography's packages come with a website for online viewing and purchasing 4x6-inch proofs in an album. The studio currently carries La-vie Albums and Leather Craftsmen. "We are excited to offer these albums. La-vie is based in Japan and has a location in Santa Monica. Our clients love them. They are sleek, modern, and unlike any others in the wedding industry."
While not all L.A. Photography packages include an engagement session, all of Austin's packages do because he finds them helpful for getting to know clients.
"There are now 10 photographers shooting for us. Jeremy Lucero, my business partner, and I handle almost everything that has to do with our clients, from meetings to taking their orders to overseeing their book design. Another employee who works with us helps edit images, answer phones, and do some photography.
"Multiple shooters are the way to go. If we're already booked or if the client is on more of a budget, we can book an associate package and not have to turn down the wedding."
L.A. Photography, which shoots weddings worldwide, finds referrals a powerful business driver. "One summer, I shot four weddings with the same bridal party. It was like they were playing musical wedding dress — one weekend a bride, the next a bridesmaid. The point is: a meeting with a referred couple is gold. They have seen your work, know your prices and, most important, you were referred by someone they trust."
Bridal shows are also a prime source of business for the studio. "I talk to as many couples as possible, showing interest and excitement for their upcoming wedding. Following up with the couple is key. If you hand them your info and don't follow up, you can bet your card will be lost among the many."
A Nikon shooter since the get-go, Austin was introduced to the equipment by his mentor, Mike Colon. "I have a 60mm 2.8 macro that I absolutely love for closeups of the wedding rings. I usually take the three rings and set them up with some candles and flower pedals (pg. 30), and that lens makes the rings full frame. Another one of my favorite lenses is the 10.5 fisheye, which takes the wedding into a fashion art."
A digital shooter today, Austin wanted proof that it would be what he needed and could trust to provide quality prints for clients. "It has really helped me grow as a photographer. I can check my lighting and experiment with artistic shots."
Slide shows at receptions have been a big hit for L.A. Photography. "Clients love the surprise and wedding coordinators and event managers who see it want to feature our studio in their ads." The post-wedding editing is a longer process, admits Austin, but they have a solution for that as well. "While final prints are made by our main lab, Fullerton Photographic, they have partnered with Life Pics for online viewing and purchasing."
Austin is already excited about his first Hawaii destination wedding planned for next year. A spiritual man, he truly pour his heart into his studio, his clients, and his family. Husband to "the beautiful and supportive" Jaime and the father of two children, Austin counts work among his blessings.