Vendor Spotlight: Sarah Mitchell with Sarah and Dave Photography
Meet Sarah Mitchell, Co-Owner and Lead Photographer with Sarah and Dave Photography. For Sarah, she knows how uncomfortable it can be in front of the camera. But time and time again couple’s are surprised how FUN, EASY, and COMFORTABLE Sarah makes them feel on their big day!
Tell us a little about your company
We’re a husband and wife wedding photography team, capturing love stories through bright, joy-filled, authentic images. And while our photography takes us all over the east coast, we’re based right in the heart of the city we adore, in Richmond, Virginia. Dave keeps an eye on the big picture and has major skills to make sure everything gets done. I’m all about the details, finding beauty and meaning in the little things. We’re truly the perfect team together on wedding days. Serving our couples well, getting to know them, and treating our S&D couples like family are all fundamental to everything we do. Our goal is to photograph every wedding with the care and focus the same way we would want with our own wedding to be photographed.
How did you get started in this business?
I started my wedding photography business, originally named “Sknow Photo By Sarah Mitchell” in 2010. After a summer in Uganda photographing the stories of the people there to share back home, I fell in love with photography as a way to tell someone’s story. I originally worked for Apple and loved planning and teaching the workshops at my store, but working retail hours and building a wedding photography business doesn’t mesh very well. So in 2012, I made the leap and left Apple to focus on growing my wedding photography business full time (and never looked back!) Shortly after, Dave helped me photograph a fellow photographer friend’s wedding, borrowing my friend’s camera just for kicks and giggles. But when Dave grasped photography theory and technology almost immediately, we knew this was something special that we needed to explore more. I spent the next couple years training Dave in all things photography, and we officially became a husband and wife wedding photography team in 2014. We love working together and feel we make the best wedding photography team.
What’s your favorite wedding story?
From the beginning, we have worked hard to make sure each of our couples feels at ease, comfortable in front of the camera, that they look natural and beautiful, and that their photos reflect their personalities. I think that is something that really sets our wedding photography business apart. We’ve been there in front of the camera and know how awkward it can feel if it’s not done right, and how sad it is to get your photos back and they look nothing like the real you. We wanted to make sure none of our couples felt like that. So we’ve perfected the art of that middle ground of coaching our couples through posing JUST enough so that they don’t feel awkward or don’t know what to do with their hands, while still allowing room for our couples to interact naturally and be themselves and capture authentic joy-filled images of them. My favorite wedding story keeps happening time and time again. Almost every single couple we work with “warns” us ahead of time that they feel awkward having their pictures taken, they’re afraid of looking stiff, their fiancee is really not looking forward to this, or they don’t like how they look in photos. And coming from someone who also hates having their picture taken, I get it! It’s super unnatural. It can be awkward. But time and time again, every single one of our couples tells us how amazed they are at how FUN and NATURAL and EASY their experience in front of our cameras was. Every. single. one. of. them. It means so much to us when a couple goes from scared and nervous, to loving their experience with us so much that they hire us again for their anniversaries, maternity shoots, and new family photos. And that is my favorite wedding story that seems to forever be repeating itself. And it never gets old!
Why do you like working with weddings?
I love knowing I am making a difference in the world. I think it’s easy to lose sight of that in the wedding industry, because its filled with a lot of extravagances and pretty details, and things that on the surface don’t seem to “make a difference in the world.” But when we leave a wedding with a huge bear hug from our couples, or when we hear back from each and every one of our couples after their wedding telling us how much their photos captured the emotions of their first day as a married couple, and how grateful they are that we are in their lives, those are my favorite moments. We have a wall in our office with hand-written notes from our couples thanking us for capturing their day perfectly, and making them feel at ease, and for going the extra mile for them by helping them set up their timeline, or pinning boutonnieres, or helping their grandma walk to and from family portraits, or helping create a makeshift apron for the apron dance. Just generally being able to really serve our couples well, and love on them. And to be invited to such an intimate moment in their lives and to be trusted and to capture really beautiful, bright, authentic joy-filled images that tell the full story of the first day of their marriage is just really special. There are not too many things in the world that can beat that feeling!
What is the most difficult situation you have faced with a bride and how did you resolve it?
Getting to know our couples and taking extra steps to make sure we are 110% prepared for their wedding day are two things that are extremely important to us. Because of that, we honestly haven’t had a single issue arise with any of our couples on a wedding day. But I think my most cherished wedding story was one of our sweet brides lost her grandma very soon after her wedding. During family portrait time, when a lot of photographers would only be capturing the posed shots, I noticed out of the corner of my eye, a really sweet moment between the bride and her grandma while she was walking her grandma back to her seat. I took the time to capture that moment, having no idea how special that would be to the bride to have this sweet candid moment with her grandma before she passed away. The bride contacted me as soon as she heard the news, asking if I had taken any more photos of just her and her grandma together on her wedding day besides the posed ones, as it was the last time they were together. For a moment there I freaked out, because I specifically remembered that sweet moment, and thought maybe I had gone crazy and just imagined that I photographed it. But thankfully, in all her grief, our sweet bride had just forgotten to look through the candid photos in her wedding photo gallery, so we were able to send her the direct links to the photos with her grandma so she didn’t even have to search for them.
From a vendor’s perspective, what is the one best piece of advice you can offer to engaged couples?
Choose vendors that you TRUST and LIKE. When you build a wedding vendor team of awesome people that you like and trust, it makes your whole wedding planning process more enjoyable and less stressful. Not only that, though! Ask any wedding vendor, and they will tell you that when they hit it off well with their wedding couple, and their wedding couple trusts them to do their thing, it allows your wedding vendor to truly shine, and do their very best.
How far in advance should couples book your services?
To ensure that each couple we work with receives the care and attention they deserve from beginning to end, we are only able to photograph a limited number of weddings each year, and our popular months tend to book up 12-18 months in advance.
What inspires you the most / where do you find inspiration?
As cliché as it may sound, we really do find our inspiration in each of our couples. Our process of getting to know each one of our S&D couples inspires the way we shoot their wedding and making it personal to them. From learning about them during the planning process to getting to know them during their engagement shoot, to beginning the wedding day photographing bridal details that will set the tone for the day, and allows us to focus in on telling the full story of your day with wedding photos that flow together perfectly.
What do you like to do when you are away from work?
We somehow manage to love exploring new places and new foods at the latest restaurants just as much as we love staying in for a home cooked meal and a relaxed game night in with friends and family. We also love to travel and go adventuring- Sarah has been to 10 different countries, and 4 of the 7 continents.
What would we be surprised to learn about you?
We’ve photographed over 100 weddings (we stopped counting a couple years ago after we reached 100), and haven’t had a single “bridezilla.” Our S&D couples really are the best!
You can learn more about Sarah and Sarah and Dave Photography on their website.