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Behind the Lens: Photographers Karen Ard & Justin Wright

Apr 2, 2014

This month we sat down with two of our favorite photographers; Karen Ard and Justin Wright. Their beautiful photographs from a country wedding captured our imagination. Photography from Karen and Justin is featured in on Wedding Shop, on our homepage, in Ariat Life and social media.

Q: What are 5 tips to get a great photo?

1. Be in the moment; forget there is a camera in front of you and be yourselves.

2. Splurge on a hair/makeup artist, even if you consider yourself natural.  You’ll be happy you did.

3. Schedule enough time for photos.  Going over your timeline with your photographer and allowing enough time for photos is key to relaxed portraits.

4. Consider an engagement session. Working with your photographer before your wedding will help you get comfortable in front of the camera and will also allow your photographer to get to know your best angles!

5. Don’t get caught up in Pinterest!  Giving your photographer ten pages of shots you want them to recreate won’t allow the photographer to create unique shots for you, which is why you hired them in the first place!

Q: Where do you get your inspiration?
Justin: My biggest inspiration comes from the couples that I work with and the love they have for one another.  Every wedding I photograph reminds me that there are millions of stories being told around the world and getting to capture one of them on that particular day is a huge blessing.  

Q: Who or what are your influences?
Karen: My photography influences are the street photographers and photojournalists including Robert Frank, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Diane Arbus, Dorthea Lang to name a few.

Photo by Karen Ard

Q. What should couples look for when hiring a wedding photographer?
Justin: There are three main things that couples should look for when hiring a photographer. 

1. Look for experience with wedding photography.  Wedding photography is a different and you want to make sure that your photographer has an understanding of the flow and nature of weddings. 

2. Make sure there is consistency in their work.  It is easy for a photographer to show the best 10 photos they have ever captured on their website.  When you meet your photographer ask to see an album or an online gallery from a single wedding. 

3. Chemistry is important.  Your photographer will be with you all and if they aren't the type of person you would want to hang out with on a normal day, definitely don't invite them to photograph your wedding.

Photo by Justin Wright

Q: How do you make sure that each wedding has a unique look and feel?
Karen: I feel that each wedding I shoot is unique, even if it is décor I’ve seen a thousand times.  And, short of family formals, I don’t have a set of shots I always try to get. I allow the couple; the time of year and the venue dictate what will happen organically.

Q: What’s the most memorable wedding you’ve photographed and why?
Karen: There really are a few that stand out in my 25 year career.  I’ve witnessed so many touching moments but the one that jumps out first is the moment I captured of a groom placing his father’s eye glasses on himself before leaving for his ceremony.  His father had just passed away a week before the wedding and it was one of the most heartfelt moments I’ve witnessed.  I tear up thinking about it even now, years later.

Justin: The one I shot for free and didn't know about until a few hours before it took place.  I heard from a friend of a friend about an amazing couple that was getting married several months before they had originally planned because the groom developed bone cancer and they didn't think he was going to make it to the future date.  

They were married on the front porch.  Including myself, there were 12 of us at the ceremony.  The bride's grandfather was the officiant.  The cake topper was a squirrel bride and groom that her grandmother had cut out of a greeting card purchased at the local store.  The reception was in the dining room at the family table where a meal was shared.  

I believe that a wedding is about two people coming together before God, and the people they love to say, “I choose you.”  Above all others, I choose you, and commit all that I am to you.  That is a beautiful thing.