I love my job because my job aligns with my passion--storytelling as a photographer. There are stories waiting to be discovered in everything, but the most powerful stories seem to emerge from love, relationships and family. I seek to observe these stories as they unfold, I freeze them in time, and then I share those stories. To me, it's more than just beautiful images, it's the powerful and unique stories behind every person, and every relationship that creates compelling imagery, and continuously reels me in. It's why I do what I do, and why I love what I do.
Style Unveiled: Tell us what you consider your 'special talent' to be. What sets you apart from other wedding photographers?
Brett Hickman: I think it’s an ability to really connect with my clients. One thing they always email me about is that how comfortable they felt with me, how the moments I shared with them on their wedding day turned out to be fun and memorable, and how easy it was. I know that comes from constantly talking to them from behind my camera, making eye contact, laughing and just having a great time. Most of my couples I remain great friends with afterwards, and I do this with every beautiful couple I am honored to work with.
Style Unveiled: We have a feeling (wink, wink) that you love to travel for weddings! How much fun!! What makes a destination wedding different from a wedding in your home town? How do you prepare differently?
Brett Hickman: Believe me, I know how lucky I am to travel both in the US and abroad, do what I love, and get paid for it in the end. But destination weddings have a unique set of challenges that require a lot of additional planning. We take backups for all of our essential camera gear, arrange travel and lodging, and secure permits. We arrive a day or two early to scout the locations, meet with our clients to review their itinerary and make final preparations for their big day. With our destination weddings, like our most recent in Saint Lucia and Kona Hawaii, we provide all-day coverage -- from the first stroke of mascara to our dramatic, nighttime portraits, we’re there to capture it all.
Style Unveiled: What is your favorite part about being a wedding photographer? How did you make this decision for your life?
Brett Hickman: There’s a long list of things about being a wedding photographer that excite me and keep me passionate about what I do. But if I were to pick just one, it’d have to be the diversity and spontaneity of every wedding we shoot. It’s the thrill of seeking out a stunning, timeless image among all the rapidly-moving events of the day. Not just shooting everything and hoping something turns out, but actually taking control and harnessing the changing light, anticipating emotion and being there to capture when it peaks. It’s smiling behind the camera from ear to ear knowing you just captured something epic. It’s heading back to the studio, pulling up the images from that day and being overcome with authentic joy and excitement over what I am about to turn over to my clients.
Style Unveiled: How do you prepare for the unexpected? Every wedding day is going to have mishaps... how do you make sure you are always ready for those?
Brett Hickman: Simply put, experience IS preparing for the unexpected. After shooting weddings for the past 5 years, both as a videographer and a photographer, I know that something unexpected almost always happens. But between our backup equipment, extra time built into the schedule, and an amazing couple of assistants I work with, there’s really no mishap that can’t be worked out. Our brides feel the difference. They pick up on our level of calm and experience and they get to really enjoy the day they’ve worked so hard for without fear of anything going wrong.
Style Unveiled: What does an engagement session mean to you? Why is this a special and important part of the 'wedding photography' journey with a couple?
Brett Hickman: Engagement sessions are one of my favorite parts of the wedding photography journey. If my clients don’t already have a feel for my personality from our initial meetings, then there’s no better way for them to get used to being in front of the camera, and to understand how I work, than to experience an engagement session. This is usually when any remaining apprehension from the groom-to-be melts away, and on their wedding day, the couple knows what to expect, they’re more at ease, and they’re confident in my ability to make them look great. We offer custom-designed, hardbound, premium wedding day guest books featuring photos from the engagement session, which is another great benefit.
Style Unveiled: Tell us about 'the first look' ... Are you pro or con? Why?
Brett Hickman: That’s a tricky question. Truth be told, my wife and I are newlyweds! Personally, I did not want to have a first look – I really wanted to see my beautiful bride for the first time as she walked down the aisle, looking at me as others looked on. There’s just something very classic and almost sacred about that moment. That’s what we did and I wouldn’t change a thing. But there are advantages and disadvantages to both.
With a first look, we get to capture the groom seeing his stunning bride-to-be for the first time in a private, intimate setting. Oftentimes, the groom will show more emotion and sometimes even be moved to tears during a first look. It allows the couple to be alone (with the exception of a couple of photographers at a distance) and take in the moment. Now that the bride and groom have seen each other, we can move forward with bridal party portraits, family portraits and romantic portraits of our couple—all before the ceremony starts. This way, after the ceremony, we can snap a couple great images of the newlyweds, then send them off to enjoy cocktail hour with their guests! That sure beats hurrying to capture everything after the ceremony, especially if it ends just after sunset.
The non-first look option is simple, classic, emotional and powerful. While I’m always sure to get that beautiful shot of the bride walking down the aisle toward her soon-to-be husband, my favorite part is looking through my lens at the groom and waiting for his expression to peak as the bride approaches him. That’s a powerful moment. I love it. It’s priceless.
Style Unveiled: How do you make sure you are always moving and changing with the times? The wedding industry changes what 'they love' every minute it seems ... is it important to stay connected with the growing trends?
Brett Hickman: It’s absolutely important to stay connected with growing trends. It’s what people want. We also all know that trends come and go. We often look back at styles from the last decade or two and think “Geez, what the heck was I thinking?” So while we evolve with the times and create fresh and beautifully creative images that make their way into publications, we stay true to our brand—capturing timeless, authentic and true images. We don’t do vintage washes and we don’t over-Photoshop. Our images are produced in vivid, true color and black and white. Simple, honest. This way, 20 years down the road you’ll have a true documentation of your beautiful day, with rich colors, real expressions, and of course, the true you. Our clients love this approach, and so does the wedding industry.
Style Unveiled: What is your favorite way to see your images used?
Brett Hickman: While we offer digital negatives in our packages, we love nothing more than to see them printed with beautiful clarity. Many of our clients opt for our custom photo albums. They’re constructed with premium leather and lay-flat pages to stand the test of time, and they are truly something to be seen, touched and experienced. Facebook, Flickr and Twitter are fun and quick ways to share your images with your loved ones, but in my honest opinion, nothing compares to seeing them printed on beautiful materials.
Brett Hickman Photographers is a paid sponsor of Style Unveiled. We thank them very much!
Photographer: Brett Hickman Photographers