Richmond Wedding Vendor Spotlight: Robert Schnell Photography
CONGRATS to our friend Robert on his new website & branding! We’re excited to see the beautiful photos he creates this wedding season!
Tell us a little about your company!
Robert Schnell Photography is the natural evolution of Bob Schnell Photography, reflecting a more refined, concierge approach to our clients. I have been photographing weddings, portraits and events since 1991 and have seen the technology evolution from film to digital and from stiff and posed wedding photography to real emotions and real people.
Real is the right word for my approach. I want to connect with my clients as people, ideally to become friends with them, of course. Photography should be a collaboration, a sharing of visions where possible. Of course, I take the lead and help our clients navigate the wedding process when necessary. Calm, safe, fun, and in control is what I want to project to the people I work with. I have just about seen it all over the years, and that provides a measure of confidence and expertise.
How did you get started in this business?
I was working at Bob’s Cameras (no relation, and a photography landmark back in the day) and was approached about photographing a small backyard wedding. I remember my heart being in my throat that day – who was I to be photographing this person’s wedding?! However, it was a Lebanese wedding and I had worked at a local Lebanese restaurant in college. The fact that I was familiar with and loved the cuisine made me a big hit with the mothers working in the kitchen. It was a nice introduction to this world and it opened my eyes to a different kind of photography.
What differentiates you from other businesses in your field?
I think experience and demeanor are the things that separate me from many of the talented photographers in the area. As serious as I take my photography, this isn’t rocket science folks. Let’s keep it fun and upbeat.
For better or worse, however, I have worked in the corporate world and that has instilled a level of professionalism in my approach. (I can almost hear many of my friends and colleagues choking on their water reading that.) Professionalism to me means responding to people in a timely and professional manner and taking their concerns and questions seriously. This is a milestone day in people’s lives, and a major investment, and making them feel safe and in good hands has to be paramount.
Why do you like working with weddings?
Weddings are a party! They can be a long day, and you never know what might happen, but I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting my clients and spending time with them on one of the most joyous days of their lives. What’s not to love?
What is the most difficult situation you have faced with a bride and how did you resolve it?
I had a client a few years ago whose mother was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, and they were forced to move their summer wedding up to February. It was a mad scramble and emotional, of course. Fortunately, I was still free (because, February) and was able to accommodate them. It was really one of the most uplifting experiences, and I was so fortunate to be a part of it. These people did not allow the specter of this illness to overshadow what should be (and was) a joyous day. Everyone embraced the joy and I was honored to have witnessed it.
From a vendor’s perspective, what is the one best piece of advice you can offer to engaged couples?
Though it is easily said, they should relax and trust their vendors. There are countless opinions coming at them from websites, blogs, magazine, and friends and it is obviously overwhelming. Find a good wedding planner and TRUST them. They can make a huge difference in the stress level.
Also, don’t sweat the money too much. I know it sounds cavalier and self-serving to say that – and I will probably change my tune when my daughter gets married – but sweating a couple of hundred dollars here or there will not make a difference six months after your wedding. But going with the wrong vendor to save a few dollars can lead to big regrets.
What or who motivates you?
I am on a quest to find the joy in the everyday, to be completely honest. I have operated with a degree of sarcastic humor for a long time (as anyone who knows me can attest), though it comes from a kind heart. However, seeing the joy in everything – and not just on a wedding day – has so many benefits. An old dog can learn new tricks it would seem.
What do you like to do when you are away from work?
I spend time with my extended family for the most part. I have also gotten back into road cycling. Ok, that sounds pretty boring.
What would we be surprised to learn about you?
I have always wanted to write a book and have folders full of unfinished stories. I need to get down to finishing one someday.
Thanks Robert, for answering our questions! To learn more about Robert and check out his new website, visit www.robertschnellphotography.com.