Annie Steele Photography » Wedding Photography, Chicago, Illinois

Ask Annie Anything: First Looks

In the past few weeks, I have had lots and lots of emails and Facebook messages, asking lots and lots of questions.  Questions have included everything from who watches my dog when we photograph Destination Weddings to what is my favorite lens and camera to photograph with on a wedding day, to what we are going to name our daughter.  If you know me, you know I probably share more of my life than my husband prefers (he’s the more private one).  Whether you are an aspiring Photographer, a future ASP Bride, or just a curious reader who reads our blogs; I’m starting a new BLOG that answers your questions to (almost) anything your curious heart wants to know!  And, because posts are always better with pictures; behind the scene images will be included.

So here you go!  Below are some of your questions… answered!

Q:  Hi, Annie!!  I’m an aspiring Photographer, and really want to start photographing Weddings for a living.  I have a full-time desk job that I went to college for, but would quit tomorrow if I could financially afford to.  My passion is Photography, and I want to begin my profession sooner than later.  What is the best way to really kick start my passion into a thriving business?

A:  I could spend hours answering this question, but unfortunetely it works so differently for everyone, and I wish there was an easy answer to your question.  Many small business owners I know went to college for something completely different from what they ultimately discovered was their true passion and calling.  Fortunately for us, that is all not bad.  I’ve said it before, that I believe college is more of a life experience rather than learning a skill that will set you up for life and put money in your pockets.  While I went to college for something completely different; somewhere in the anatomy, physiology and health class courses, I realized college was a starting point and to learn as much as possible about as much as possible.  I took business courses (not for my major), but because I was interested in learning about business.  Certainly, these business courses and life lessons came to help me begin and organize, realize how much I needed to charge, how much I needed to make, how much I could spend at a time on improving my photography equipment and supplies to run a business to make photography my dream reality.  I didn’t wake up one day, and decide to incorporate myself.  Photography began as a passion well before I dreamt of collecting money for it.  My first, official wedding I photographed was at a golf course in Michigan (I realize I got very lucky); and charged very little for it to have that experience and those images for my portfolio.  Start little, have big dreams, be realistic, try not be be your worst critic, be nice to everyone along the way, and remember if it way easy… everyone would be doing it.

(Above, a behind the scenes captured from a 2nd Shooter perspective of a recent Wedding Day FIRST LOOK.  This is also what a 8 month pregnant Wedding Photographer looks like on the right)

Q:  My fiancé and I keep going back and forth as to whether we want to see each other before the Ceremony for the first time, or if we want to see each other for the first time when I walk down the aisle.  From a Photographer standpoint, can you tell us the advantage and disadvantages of both?

A:  I would LOVE to, and ultimately your Wedding Day is exactly that: YOUR WEDDING DAY.  

From a Bride standpoint, I had breakfast with my fiancé the morning of our wedding day (barefoot, on a patio, overlooking the Caribbean sea while eating pancakes, hash browns, and fresh fruit).  I was 23 years old at the time and clearly didn’t care about those carbs hours before getting into a fitted gown.  I just chalk that up to being young and a much higher metabolism than I have now.  We spent time talking and holding hands knowing in a few short hours, we were going to be husband and wife.  That is one of my favorite moments in life, so I cherish that time spent together and would never do it differently.  

What you may not know is where the tradition of not seeing one another before the ceremony comes from.  The tradition has nothing to do with Christianity or one’s belief in God.  It all started during the time when arranged marriages were common practice.  The wedding symbolized a business deal between two families (I know– so romantic, right?) and a father wanted his daughter to marry a man from a wealthy, land-owning family. It was feared that if the groom met the bride before the wedding and thought she wasn’t attractive, he’d call off the wedding, casting complete shame onto the bride and her family. Because of this, it became tradition that the bride and groom were only allowed to meet at the wedding ceremony for the first time so that the groom did not have the opportunity to change his mind. And that veil the bride wears? Its original purpose was also to keep the groom from finding out what the bride looked like until the last possible minute, when it was too late to back out of the transaction.  

From a Photographer standpoint, I think seeing each other before the Ceremony, also called a First Look, is extremely romantic and a great opportunity for some beautiful, emotion filled pictures for you to have and cherish always.  Seeing each other before getting married also may help calm some of the jitters bride and grooms have before getting in front of all their friends and family.  Often times, these pictures are some of my couple’s favorite pictures, and don’t worry;  if your groom is going to tear up as you walk down the aisle towards him, seeing each other beforehand will not change that.  

(BELOW, is the same FIRST LOOK captured from my perspective)



And because I LOVE different vantage points and believe in having a second photographer on a Wedding Day, below is a Second Shooter perspective (you can purposely see me)…

…And here is my perspective of the lovely couple…

Q:  What are you going to name your Daughter?

A:  I have been asked this question hundreds of times by my wonderful clients, their families at weddings, fellow instagrammers, friends, family, friends on Facebook, and random people shopping at Target who also like to reach out to rub my belly.  Peter and I are having a hard time coming up with a name that will suit our girl.  She is due in less than a month, and while we have some front runners; I think we are going to meet her first.  It’s such a responsibility to choose something so permanent!  Besides, before I was born, my name was going to be Molly, and Peter’s name was going to be Heather (because his mom was sure he was a girl).  I’m so glad we were named after being born… our names suit us better.  ;) 


If you have any follow up questions, I’d love for you to ask them below, and I’ll do my best to answer.  Every few weeks we will be posting more ASK ANNIE questions….  I hope you enjoy!

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  • June 4, 2015 - 12:35 pm

    Stephanie Rosado - Love this! XoxReplyCancel