Brad Smith is a Warwick-based wedding photographer. We asked him for advice on how to get the perfect wedding photos, and also how budding photographers should get started. Check out his answers, and for more information, visit www.smithbrad.com.
What got you into photography?
When I was a teen, my parents gave me my first SLR camera – all film – and it became a hobby of mine through high school and college. I went to college for communications/media but concentrated on technical writing and graphic design, even though my college had an outstanding photography program. It never occurred to me that photography could be a career and not just a hobby.
Out of college I got a graphic design job with a small printing company in R.I. but quickly realized that I didn't want to sit behind a desk forever, and started taking on small jobs photographing homes for realtors and painters who needed images for their marketing materials. That transitioned into more photography of people, and from there, I started assisting at weddings.
What advice do you have, from a photographer's standpoint, for people planning a wedding?
Give yourself enough time between the ceremony and the reception. It's tough because you want to get all the pictures done and still get into your cocktail hour without leaving your guests hanging for hours between events, but keep in mind things run over (or you might be late to the ceremony) and a little extra time is always welcome. The photographer is the one who will have to make up for lost time somewhere because the venue will be sticking to their schedule on when dinner will be served. Always lean toward a few extra minutes rather than thinking you can make it happen with less time.
What's your favorite thing to photograph? Do you have a favorite photo you've ever taken?
I love pictures of people – the images are all different and can show so much in just one frame. I have such an admiration for landscape photographers, but I don't have the patience and motivation to get up at 4 a.m. for a sunrise shoot of Narragansett Bay, so I'll leave that to the photographers who do that so well in this area.
I don't have a favorite photo, but I really love the ones where everything just comes together in the shot. When emotion, lighting, composition and everything else comes together in one frame – those are the ones that tend to be my favorite.
Any tips for amateur or budding photographers?
Go out and photograph a lot – every day if you can. It's easy to sit and read everything there is to read about photography, but until you pick up a camera and actually go out and practice what you've read, you'll never get better. Drag anyone that'll allow you to photograph them out and practice in different light and varying situations. You'll take a lot of junk, but you'll start to grasp the concepts better each time you do it.
What about people in front of the lens, any tips for looking great in photos?
Relax. It's tough, especially if you're not used to spending any time in front of the camera. And it's uncomfortable, I know, but it's the photographer’s job to make you look good. If you have the option, wear something that you're comfortable in. A new piece of clothing that you're constantly adjusting will make you feel far more uncomfortable than it's worth.