Today is all about Chantelle Visser at Infinite Weddings! A very talented photographer based in Kommetjie, Cape Town. Let’s hear what Chantelle has to say about her experience in wedding photography.
I cry. I have cried at every Wedding I have ever shot. Luckily I am able to hide behind my camera and ALWAYS wear waterproof mascara.
I try not to outcry guests, the parents and of course the couple, but I make no promises.
I cry because of the look on the groom’s face as he watches his Bride walk down the aisle.
I cry at the look of love, adoration, and that little bit of sadness, on the Father of the Bride’s face as he gives away his little girl.
I cry when I see a tender moment through my lens and am fortunate enough to capture it.
And I cry because as they stand together, hand in hand at the altar, they are not yet aware of the history they are about to write and all that awaits them. The joys, the fear, the triumphs, the disappointments, the laughter, the tears and the mistakes they will make, all of which will mould and define their marriage. I cry because as I watch them, my hope is that once they begin writing their book of history, it isn’t closed until their dying breath and is filled with stories of a life well lived, with an abundance of love, respect and honesty, leaving a legacy their children and grandchildren will admire and strive for.
To capture the beginning… what an honour.
How would you describe your style and approach?
My style is a mixture of Documentary and Fine Art, with some (but not much!) editorial – this is all very much dependent on the couple. I welcome and encourage input from my couples, as I want to give them the wedding photos they envision in their minds. It’s important to work closely together to ensure happiness all around.
My approach is definitely one of team work on the day – I attract couples who have the same energy, i.e. informal but professional, a close, friendly, open relationship with good communication, all based on a mutual excitement for the impending day, rather than a formal client and service provider relationship. In all my years of wedding photography, the best results are from those I had the most “informal” relationship with.
What inspires you?
I am greatly inspired by a few wedding photographers who I follow (follow, not stalk!) on Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook, but my biggest inspiration comes from each of my couples. Getting to know them on a personal level before the day, liaising about different poses, styles, lighting etc. is the biggest inspiration.
How long have you been photographing weddings for?
I shot my first Wedding in 2009. I was petrified. And to this day it is by far the most memorable (for good reasons).
What is the best moment you’ve had as a wedding photographer?
Very unorthodox, but the best, most surprising moment I’ve had as a wedding photographer, was when, at the end of our booked time period, my assistant and I were asked to pack all the equipment away and join in. After explaining we had a long way to drive, the couple booked us into a room at the venue and insisted that after all the work put in leading up to the day that we stay and celebrate with them.
Do you have any funny stories about a past wedding?
Ok this is very embarrassing, not everyone would find this funny, and I can’t believe I’m actually putting it out there!
I cry at every wedding I shoot, without exception.
We were booked to shoot a same sex wedding – usually I begin to cry when the bride is walked down the aisle, but having personal experience with gay and lesbian friends and family who were not supported and ostracised for being gay and lesbian, something about watching these brides parents walk them down the aisle, both parents with looks of absolute adoration on their faces, totally accepting and literally being able to feel the unconditional love they had for their daughters, triggered in me something that I was simply not able to control. What ensued was uncontrollable sobbing (how many weddings have you been to where the photographer cries more than the bride, or in this case, brides? Ridiculous right?!), resulting in my having to leave the venue! Luckily as a team of two, my assistant took over and covered a portion of the ceremony so that I could compose myself. I’m certain the guests must have thought I was quite mad.
I was mortified and thought that it was the end of my career, but in fact it was quite the opposite. For the most part, couples want someone who connects with them, and is in tune with the emotions of the couple and their guests, because that is when the best, most intimate moments are caught.
What was your most challenging wedding and why?
I am very lucky to be able to say there isn’t one specific wedding that has been the most challenging. In the very beginning of my career I had a few weddings where guests tagged along to the location for the formal couple’s shoot, and proceeded to whip out their own cameras/cell phones etc and yell instructions to the couple, stand right behind me and shoot over my shoulder, stand in front of me ‘for a quick shot’ and even ask me to move out the way so that they could take a photo. This type of thing causes unnecessary stress and confusion, takes up time and is just a frustrating experience for both the couple and I. I have since included a clause in our contract that stipulates the couple shoot is a closed shoot and guests are not permitted to attend. Should a few guests be in attendance, they are prohibited from taking photos or giving direction.
This ensures I have my time with the couple to do what I’m paid to do, in the time I’m booked to do it in.
A continuous challenge is guests stepping in front of me when the bride is walking down the aisle. The digital age!
In your opinion, what are the top 10 key moments to capture at a wedding?
Aside from the obvious ring exchange, first kiss, first dance, father and daughter dance, bouquet and garter toss and cutting of the cake, I would say:
1. A good shot of the dress, either on the hanger or on the bride
2. A shot of the brides perfume and accessories (jewellery/shoes etc)
3. A shot of the bride getting dressed assisted by her bridesmaids
4. A shot of the groom getting dressed assisted by his groomsmen
5. First look (when the groom first sees his bride)
6. The father of the bride ‘giving her’ to the groom
7. Parents expressions during vow exchange and/or first kiss
8. Lighting of unity candle or any other element included in the ceremony
9. Confetti shot
10. Candid moments (guests and the couple) during speeches
Should a couple email you regarding their wedding, what information do you suggest they include in their first request?
Definitely the wedding date as a first order of business, as well as the venue and number of hours requested if they have that information. Otherwise just the date. A booking form is included in package details.
Any tips for couples who are looking for a wedding photographer?
GO WITH YOUR GUT!
Just as the most expensive doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get the best service or product, the least expensive doesn’t mean you’ll get the worst service or product. Contact all the photographers you want (after making sure you’ve looked at examples of their work and you like their style), and from then on, follow your gut!
What is your favourite photo ever taken and why this specific one?
I don’t have only one favourite – I have several, it’s almost impossible to have only one favourite. That’s a bit like asking a chocoholic which is their favourite chocolate!
Ones that stand out for me are a shot I got of a couple on a dirt road at sunset, another of a couple walking through a forest of incredibly tall trees, another of a couple in the attic of an old farm house, and yet another of a couple with their toddler son running towards them, holding a bunch of helium balloons. Oh! And then there’s the one of a Bride dancing and playing with her veil on a windy beach. And…. You see the problem!