Keren Sarai, owner of Keren Sarai Photography, has been shooting weddings professionally since 2010 in the Chicagoland area. I had the opportunity to interview the talented wedding photographer and share Keren’s story.
How did you get into photography?
I never thought I’d be doing photography since I had a degree in music education and taught choir after graduation. I got married and was friends with my wedding photographer on Facebook. I loved the pictures she took of her children and told my husband I really wanted a nice camera so I would never have to pay a professional photographer to take pictures of our kids. Christmas came around and he got me a really nice camera, but I had no clue how to use it. I started shooting everything and had a natural eye for composition. I shared them on Facebook for people to see and from that I had people asking if I would be interested in taking pictures of their families.
How did you decide to specialize in wedding photography?
One of my friends was getting married and I did what you should never do to a wedding photographer—I brought my camera to the wedding and shot over her photographer’s shoulder! If I knew that photographer now I would apologize for doing that, but I would also thank her because that’s what got me started in wedding photography.
I edited the pictures I took and put them up on an amateur website I had at the time. An acquaintance from college saw those photos, told me she loved them and asked me to do their wedding so I said yes. That kicked it off for me and my business grew naturally from there. At some point, I realized I was only interested in shooting weddings so I tailored down my services and decided to specialize in weddings.
What kind of photos do you take?
I describe myself as a fine art wedding photographer. I take classic, timeless, high-end shots. I always say classic because my goal in taking pictures is to make sure they’re not super trendy. I don’t want to use a preset mode or filter that says those pictures were “so 2016” or any other year. I want to create beautiful, classic images that capture each couple’s personality.
How do you make your couples feel comfortable with you?
It’s about the experience from day one. There are a lot of wedding photographers out there who only communicate and see their couples on the wedding day. I focus on relationships and want to feel more like a friend, so I keep in contact with my couples and do extra things for them. Even if they’re nervous when we go to photoshoots, they know I’m not a stranger but someone who has been communicating with them since the first day.
What are some of the biggest obstacles you face when photographing the wedding day?
Time is definitely number one. I always try to set a timeline with my couples, but something can be off or get delayed on the wedding day. Dealing with families and bridal parties can also be difficult. I have to try to manage pleasing a lot of people outside of the couple. Family members can have certain expectations that may not match what the couple has in mind, and bridal parties can either be too helpful or too rowdy from drinking which can be difficult when I’m pressed for time. It can be difficult sometimes to manage relationships because different people have different expectations of what the photographer should be doing.
What’s your favorite part of the wedding day to photograph?
Hands down, the time I get with the bride and groom alone after I’m done shooting the bridal party is my favorite part of the day to photograph because that’s when I can be the most creative and personal with the couple. My second favorite part to shoot is the bride when she’s getting ready. She’s excited and nervous and I get to share in that experience with her.
From a career standpoint, what is one thing you wish you had done when you started out as a photographer?
I wish I had reached out to other people in the wedding industry earlier. The industry has changed since I started and is going in that direction now, but I wish I had connected with others to learn, gain experience and get advice.
What piece of advice can you offer to brides and grooms looking to hire a wedding photographer?
Know your budget. You can’t get a good idea of what’s out there for you if you don’t have a clue about your budget. I obviously put a lot of value in photographs, but a couple should figure out how much they want to invest in their wedding photos. If photos aren’t a big deal, that’s fine, but it’s important for a couple to figure out what their priorities are and plan for that. At the of the day, a couple should be content with the end product for what they were willing to spend because you get what you pay for.
What piece of advice can you offer to wedding photographers who are just starting out?
Reach out! Reach out to other photographers, read blogs and watch videos because there’s a lot of ways to learn. Build a strong community so you have a network of people who can support you and answer your questions. Aside from learning, practice and shoot as much as you can. You’ll get better the more you shoot!
Saturday, September 30, 2017