Y’ALL. Look at me, @kimstockwellphoto, over here taking over @photovisionprints’ Instagram. THIS IS NUTS! ✨ So glad to be here + so excited to meet y’all! I’m a film photographer based in Richmond, Virginia. I live right outside the city in the cutest little cape with my husband, Robby, and the BEST black lab of all time, Cooper. No seriously—he’s really great (the dog) but Robby is pretty great, too. 😉 I have a wild appreciation for authentic imagery + medium format film. The goal of every photograph I take is to create a timeless and classic image. My style and aesthetic is fueled by neutral color palettes + soft, romantic details. My passion comes from my ability to give clients beautiful, authentic moments. Moments, when cared for properly, can live forever. I am so honored to be taking over PhotoVision’s Instagram this week, I owe much of my success in the wedding industry to them and I am beyond grateful to have them on my team. This week I will be sharing a little bit about how I photograph a wedding with film and the tricks I have learned along the way!
Photo by @nikkisanterre.
When I enter a venue I am thinking about 3 things—Where is the best light? ☀ What will I be photographing in this light? And what film stock will work best? For example, I rarely photograph the bridal details in the bridal suite. This detail shot was taken on the back terrace of the venue because it had the cleanest light. It can be easy to get flustered in the excitement of a wedding day, so being as intentional as possible as soon as you arrive can help save yourself some time and stress. (Image styled by the talented @maggierichard! 👌)
Your shooting style and aesthetic should go hand in hand. My biggest successes were when I realized these 2 things aren't just correlated, they depend on each other. During my film journey, I realized I love the way simplicity looks on film. I dream in blank spaces—this is where I feel the most at home and this is what I am always searching for on wedding days. Neutrals are my jam. 😎 I love them, wish every wedding had them and am constantly looking for neutral spaces to photograph people and details in. I just think there is something really beautiful about simplicity, and I think neutral settings have a tendency to frame things in a special way. Defining your brand’s aesthetic (which for me, was neutral simplicity) and incorporating it into the way you photograph will only elevate your imagery.
In the South, bridal portraits are a *THING,* ya’ll! 👰 Clients request entire sessions just for them. Regardless if they schedule a bridal portrait session, I always photograph the bride by herself a few times on her wedding day. I feel it is a necessary heirloom in the couple’s collection. Small details like knowing what your client might want, even if they do not ask for it, goes such a long way in creating your clients’ dream wedding gallery.
Don’t be afraid to get weird. 😜 When I first started photographing weddings, I constantly battled with taking the shots I thought people *wanted* me to take, and finding time for the shots *I* wanted to take. Insider tip—people will literally do anything as long as you are nice about it, and most importantly, ask with confidence. Confidence is key! For example, this is one of my brides and her twin sister. I knew I wanted an image of them that showed the close bond they have, so I asked them to hold hands. Then, despite the 100-degree Virginia summer day, I said lean in close to and touch foreheads. They didn't doubt me because I said it confidently, but y'all, that was crazy! Crazy, weird, whatever you want to call it, can be so worth it. Stay confident in your ideas—it’s the reason your clients hired you in the first place.
When photographing couples on their wedding day, I make it a point to direct them into their own images. 📷 I never want a couple to look back at an image and go, “Why did Kim tell us to do that?!” I like my clients to be comfortable with me to the point that I am not even really there. In order to get them to settle into the moment, I request a lot of actions, and from there, I let them interpret what those look like. For example, in this image, I asked the bride to lean into her new husband’s chest and hold onto him. Then I asked her to close her eyes and take a deep breath in through her nose and slowly let it out through her mouth. This is a very relaxing breath that instantly puts people at ease. By being at ease, she settled into the image even more, and you can just feel the immense peace and solidarity of this moment.
Mentors have been so important to my development as a film wedding photographer. 💚 I put off learning film for the longest time because the community felt different from digital. I had film photography on this pedestal and I was terrified of not being accepted. But my mentor @nikkisanterre took me in with open arms and taught me more than I could have imagined. She is now sharing that hospitality + education through the @hybridatelier with fellow educator @samoffit. And *TODAY* they are launching some incredible educational opportunities for new and seasoned film photographers. I highly encourage you to check them out!
My favorite way to manage large bridal parties is to break them up into smaller groups. 👯 After I take the shot of all the bridesmaids, I will ask if there are any groups within this group (family members, childhood friends, sorority sisters, etc.). From there, I will photograph each group within the group because it does two things: (1) Gives the bride a chance to have a moment with each of these little groups and (2) it helps me bring a unified and intimate feel to their overall wedding gallery. This image is of the bride with her family members in the bridal party.
Another thing I like to do when photographing bridesmaids is to get them to interact with one another. 👯 I am very underwhelmed with the standard “bridesmaids line-up,” and my goal of every image is to evoke emotion. Touch and laughter is one of the easiest ways to get people to show emotion. Most people do not enjoy being in front of a camera, so when you ask them to hold onto one another, they appreciate it and it usually results in a smile or a shared look of relief with the person next to them. In this image, I wanted that interaction, but I also wanted there to be balance in the image. Since I had two girls on one side, I asked them to lean against one another and hold hands, and with the bridesmaid on the right, I asked her to lean into the bride, but hold her shoulder. This grander stance on the right helps bring the viewer’s eyes up and balance the image, all while creating a playful emotion.
I like to think I’m pretty funny. 😭 OK—I think I’m *really* funny, but I’m probably just *pretty* funny. Regardless, I tend to joke with my clients a lot because people enjoy laughter and laughing is so much easier to photograph than frowning. It’s a win-win! Here’s my most favorite go-to joke when photographing a couple—at some point while directing them into different images, I will say, “OK, now give me a kiss!” and usually they will look at me first for affirmation, and at that point I pretend to look terrified and say, “OH NO! Kiss each other, not me!” This results in the couple laughing with one another, which creates the sweetest, genuine laughter like you see here. Try it at your next wedding + let me know how it goes!
Details. 🍰 Details for me are bittersweet. I prefer to photograph things that can take direction + preferably laugh at my jokes. It’s really hard to make a pair of Jimmy Choos laugh—like, really hard. For me, people are the most important thing on a wedding day because they are the ones who are irreplaceable. With that being said, details are also super important in order to give your clients an overall feel for their wedding day. Even though I have yet to make a pair of Jimmy Choos laugh, I still approach photographing details the same way I do people. I check to make sure the light is right on whatever I am photographing and that I have the subject’s best angle in mind. For example, this cake shot was taken before the ceremony, but I asked the planner if I could light the candles for a quick picture. I also pulled the table away from the window in order to give some depth behind the cake and make it sort of “pop” in the image. My point is, I didn't just photograph the cake how it was sitting there, because it was just there. I made sure to photograph that cake as if it was looking for a new #Tinder profile pic. And I mean, I’d swipe right. 😉
Vendor importance! ⚡ Wedding days are built on the vendors who contribute, and they should be recognized just how we all want to be recognized. I always start with my #filmlab because they are the ones who help guarantee my clients get the most amazing wedding images. In addition to my lab, I make sure to credit everyone from the planner and the venue, to the florist and the dress designer. I spend lots of time making sure every image I publicly share gives credit to those involved. That extra time can make all the difference. People want to feel valued and appreciated—that sticks with people and will ultimately make them remember you + your brand. This image is one of my favorites from a collaboration with a dear friend and very talented designer, @forloveoflove. 💕