|Headshot taken by intern Jezzica Gibson|
Your name: Christy Whitehead
Company Name: Christy Whitehead Photography
Years in Business: Aprx. 10 years. (Next question answer’s this one)
How did you get started? I started out as a freelance newspaper reporter when I was 15. When I was about 20, an editor at the Florida Times Union told me I should take photography classes to make my articles even better since I had to take photos while I was on assignment.
I liked photography and figured why not. I LOVED working in the darkroom. The creative process was so much fun, I could lose myself in there.
I started expanding out and doing newspaper and magazine work for lots of publications across the country. And some of those publications started using my photos more and more and didn’t need a story from me for it—they were just hiring me as a photographer. And suddenly friends and family started asking me to shoot weddings and portraits and everything just kept going from there.
Best advice you can give to a bride: When it comes to the wedding in general, be yourself, don’t let what you think a wedding is supposed to look like dictate how you do your wedding. Do what YOU want, make it personal to you, down to the wedding rings. That’s one of the things I regretted. For example, I wish I would have had color in my wedding rings, but I felt like that wasn’t traditional enough, now I regret getting a ring that everyone else has and isn’t completely me.
When it comes to hiring a photographer, never judge your decision based solely on price, or any vendor based on those parameters, for that fact. Expensive doesn’t mean better and with cheap you typically get what you pay for. Important factors when choosing a photographer include ATTITUDE! You don’t want a photographer whose personality is completely different then yours. I have heard horror stories of mean photographers bossing a bride around to the point where she wanted to cry. That’s horrible! If we don’t get along how am I going to illicit a good smile or get you to pose for those photos you’ll cherish for a lifetime?
If you are dark skinned, you really need to choose a photographer that has experience photographing darker people. Lighter skins reflect light, where as darker skin tones don’t. Think about your HS yearbook photos and how all the dark skinned kids disappeared in the photos—it’s because the photographer didn’t alter the lighting, they got the same lighting as the white kids. Ask to see a wedding album from an African American wedding to get an idea of what your photographer can really do.
And you really should see WHOLE albums from the photographer. Websites only show the best of. You want to know that your photographer can truly handle the whole wedding.
Many people in the wedding industry don’t have a license, and may not be insured. I’ve heard horror stories of people leaving deposits with a vendor only to have them disappear. Make sure you are working with a reputable company. I am licensed with the city and I also carry insurance, which is a big deal. I have had cameras break or jam. So not only do I carry a MINIMUM of 2 cameras to every wedding, but if one were to break the day before a wedding, I have insurance, so I can afford to go get it replaced. A college student or an aunt or uncle may not have that option.
What has been your strangest request? I’m a wedding photographer, but I also do other types of photography including families, pets and boudoir. I occasionally get phone calls from men asking me to photograph them nude. .I photographed one man nude, but that didn’t exactly end well. The guy ended up being a pervert and I had to call the police about him. The story around it is hysterical though.
Other than that, one of my largest clients is law enforcement publications—magazines specifically for police and fire fighters. With that I have been asked to where a men’s cup while shooting to protect myself, I was told, lol. That’s probably the funniest, most of the strange things with law enforcement work is either just crazy–like hiding behind a police car in Savannah while a guy with a shotgun was shooting at people—or sad, like photographing crime/death scenes.
Do you work with an assistant? Yes. With weddings of 3 hours or more I always have an assistant with me. This is for my sanity and the brides! The assistant carries equipment, sets up lights while I’m still shooting the bride (saving time) and helps out in general. Sometimes they’ll shoot as well, since they are often interns and training, which means more photos for the bride at no additional charge.
I once had a bride who was running about 3 hours late to her own wedding. She was writing her vows as she was getting her hair done. She had also lost her marriage license, but couldn’t exactly run out to look for it, everything was crazy. I asked her where she thought it was and we sent my assistant out on the hunt, and luckily my assistant was able to find it everything was good.
What would you say is your style? Def. photojournalistic. My Bachelor’s degree is in Communications/Print Journalism, and with the newspaper work, my photos have to tell a story. I like that. I do some posed shots, you kind of have to. But grooms are the first to get tired of smiling, so the photojournalistic style really plays well to them, since after the posed stuff I’m shooting them actually having fun, with real smiles.
Who is the person you most admire? I don’t know. I’m never good with these types of questions. There are people out there that I think should be looked up to. For example, I’ve always been amazed by Oprah, she is a positive person and really built up this media empire from nothing without belittling her values or putting other people down in the process. That is outstanding and inspiring to me. I don’t really just admire one person though, I typically admire traits about different people I meet on a daily basis—whether it’s their ability to laugh at themselves, their values or their business sense.
Who is the person that inspired you? I don’t really have one. I know that I am who I am because of my parents. They are the ones that really shape you. My mother taught me basic principles like “no matter how bad you think you have it, someone else always has it worse.” Both of my parents are very entrepreneurial, and that was def. instilled in me and I’ve never been scared to step out do a business venture because of that.
What is your proudest moment in your business? I keep saying I don’t know, but these questions are hard, lol. I don’t have ONE moment.I’ve won awards and accolades including recently being named the best wedding photographer in Jacksonville by Bride Magazine, I’m often surprised and shocked by the people around me and how much they love my work or how much they trust me. It really is an honor to be put in charge of people’s wedding photos or to be asked to do something special for someone because they really believe in you. Those are the type of moments that aren’t easily expressed, but really do mean so much.
|Hair Alina Castillo, Makeup: Paulina Perez|