REAL ADVICE FROM A REAL INDUSTRY PROFESSIONAL
We had the pleasure of working with Molly from m three Studio Photography this past February at the Historic Pabst Brewery. It was immediately apparent that she has an eye for capturing those rare fleeting magical moments while still making sure to take the time to compose beautiful shots that speak to the rich history of her clients' surroundings. Read on to learn some hot tips about wedding day scheduling, the most charming venues in Milwaukee, and how to make the most of a rainy day photoshoot!
Animation was an incredible training ground for photography. Just as you describe, it was a perfect environment for learning patience and persistence. When you’ve spent hours and days drawing thousands of pictures that make up a few seconds of screen time - you learn to have that faith. But it also taught me so much about story and how to craft one, how to tell one, how to mold one, how to present one - that was the invaluable part. I tell my clients that I storyboard in my head as their day unfolds - and it is true. I’m always thinking about that final story presentation and what it needs, now to tell it.
We understand that you have a keen eye for historic landscapes and architecture. After studying and traveling far and wide, would you say that any particular location or time period most inspires your personal aesthetic?
I’m most drawn to European influences. I studied in Italy in college, but you’ll find me equally entranced by french or english styles. It’s always the details that draw me in - the capitol of a column, the wrought iron railing on some steps, even the framing of a window. I think it may be the craftsmanship involved that is so intoxicating. They had no modern machinery or tools, and they created beauty that we are still in awe of. I also grew up partially in Virginia, where there’s more of a history in the surroundings than here in the midwest. One of my favorite places as a child was colonial Williamsburg, because that history just was alive for the watching. That magic is part of what I’m always seeking when I stumble upon a historic setting - I’m always searching for it’s story, or making one up.
What are some of your favorite historic venues to shoot in the area?
Villa Terrace is the Milwaukee winner, hands down. I could shoot there dozens of times a year and never get bored. The style of it is stunning, of course, but there are so many ways to use that venue for a wedding or event. If you are creative with your approach, you can really make it your own and find a unique perspective. There’s just nothing like it, and I love how you can feel transported out of the midwest there. It’s my little dose of Italy when I’m yearning for some European vibes.
For entirely personal reasons, Historic Turner Ballroom is also a favorite - it’s where my own wedding reception was. I love that venue not just for it’s history, but because it still looks like someone opened up doors that had been shuttered for 60 years and discovered this fantastic ballroom. It’s all my crumbling awesomeness dreams come true.
Embrace it. So many couples get caught up in how something “should be” and fail to appreciate what is, and ride the awesome ride that being present in the moment can be. So, if it rains - break out the umbrellas and roll with it. If it’s too stormy to salvage, then embrace the idea of a cozy indoor option. None of that has to do with photographs per se - but it does speak to attitude. And attitude changes everything. Truly. We had a lot of “rained out” weddings in 2016, and the ones that were most successful were the ones where the couple (and those around them) didn’t let it get in the way.
From a more practical standpoint, having umbrellas on hand, a clear umbrella for couple’s portraits (because it doesn’t block light), some cute wellies to keep you dry, and a photographer who knows of covered but but outdoor options is how we handle it. Natural light is king, so you will often find me standing out in the rain with my assistant holding an umbrella over the two of us, as my couple is positioned in a covered area with good light. Rain light is gorgeous, and the light right after it is even better. Colors pop, and there’s a wonderful mystical quality, so don’t despair, it can be beautiful!
I know a lot of my clients ask me for tips on the perfect timeline, and I'm sure you must have some suggestions of your own relating to photography. Are there any key tweaks a couple can make to their timeline to ensure that their photos are fresh and relaxed?
2 things. First, consider how you want to experience your day. Do you want to have a break after ceremony to do pictures and then rejoin your guests? Do you want to see each other first so you can set the tone for the day together? Do you want to flow straight from ceremony into cocktails and stay with your guests? Do you want to hang out with your wedding party at a bar for awhile? Whatever it is - build around that. There are certainly ways to make photography smoother, to make dancing and reception activities smoother - but they should only be used when they also serve the overall experience you want to have that day. Because you experiencing it - that is the whole point. I’d rather photograph a couple who is having the best day (even if its inconvenient for me), than one who feels pushed and pulled around by a schedule that is keeping them from enjoying the day.
My second suggestion is very simple: add time. Everything takes more time on a wedding day. Moving more than two people anywhere is like herding cats. Truly. I add 15 minutes to everything. If it’s a 10 minute drive to the church - I guarantee you that drive will take 20-25 minutes on your wedding day. Because there are more people, a larger vehicle, more stuff, clothes you aren’t used to, people you aren’t always with, etc.
Can you tell us about a favorite photo or shoot of yours that was a result of a happy accident?
I always enjoy when necessity puts up roadblocks that I have to work with. Such instances make me think outside the box and push in a new direction. Like this shot from Stephanie & Brian’s wedding a few years ago [see below]…We had a whole outdoor plan for photos, but it rained. Thankfully the Overture Center is basically a glass box, so we had plenty of light. But we had to shoot around where the guests where cocktailing, and two other weddings also happening at the same time. So, I had a staircase. And I found this shot. Realizing I had more at my disposal than it seemed changed my whole perspective.