When I started my career in wedding photography just over 10 years ago, I never would have thought I’d be where I am now: in a career where I not only feel fulfilled but truly believe I am meant to be doing what I’m doing.
My First Wedding
I began my career by photographing my first wedding for my cousin. I took approximately 350 images and gave those rolls of film to my cousin for developing, and that was it! Now, I take approximately 2500–5000 images on average, with about 400–700 “keepers.”
That wedding was the first (and only) time that I used film for wedding photography. After that, I purchased an entry-level digital camera, a Canon EOS Rebel, for about $650 off of eBay. It came with a standard telephoto lens and kit lens, along with a few extras to help in cleaning and storing the camera.
Since that time, my arsenal has increased dramatically. I own almost a dozen different lenses, different flashes, and a variety of gadgets to help me do my job.
The amount of technological and social change in the past decade has been astounding. When I photographed my first wedding in 2006, Facebook wasn’t mainstream, Instagram did not exist, and Snapchat wasn’t even a thought. In fact, most phone texts still required you to enter a series of numbers! My, how it’s changed since then.
10 years later, I look back on how much has changed, the distance our society has traveled in the evolution of technology. I realize how much I’ve had to learn, adapt, and implement new techniques almost every few years, and I’m glad for the drive that keeps me constantly trying to learn and improve myself.
The images below are from a recent wedding near Green Bay this winter. I look at these images compared to my first wedding and notice a difference. A large difference!
Macro Photos and Astrophotography: Uncovering the Hidden
I never like to place too many eggs in one basket, so I believe in diversifying my skill set. Even though I primarily focus on wedding photography, I try to develop and nurture other types of photography such as astrophotography, macro photography, family photography, modeling, senior sessions, boudoir, and newborn photography.
In particular, I love astrophotography. Why? It captures the unseen. When we look at the night sky, we see the stars twinkling above us, but we often have to squint to see them.
But when I open the shutter on my camera and allow light to filter in, to expose the sensor, something magical happens. It uncovers the hidden. Stars appear out of nowhere. The night sky becomes a blue hue that you can’t see with the naked eye. Most astoundingly, the Milky Way Galaxy reveals itself in a rainbow cloud of gas, stars and dust.
On the flip side, I also love macro photography, which is when I get *really* close to something to photograph it. For example, if I use a macro lens on a bumblebee, I can see all the fine hairs, pollen, and individual eye lenses.
I love macro photography because it allows me to peel back a layer of our everyday lives that we cannot see. I love opening this door for myself and others.
Editing Wedding Photos
People always ask me ""Wow! So, how much time do you spend editing your wedding photos?" The answer is: a lot.
Some photographers go by the rule that if it isn't perfect in camera, one must discard it. These are very few and far between in the event photography industry. Because while photographing an event, there is a ton of action to capture with your camera sensor. And not a lot of time to get things perfectly dialed in before taking the photograph.
Other wedding photographers go to great lengths to edit their photos, adding embellishments and effects. Or completely alter a person's body shape to please them.
I take the approach of applying just enough editing to enhance the photo, but not enough that it detracts from it. For example: I take a photo of a bride and a groom in an outdoor setting. The lighting is perfect, the setting is perfect, and they are both giving each other a natural, candid expression. The only editing I would apply to this photo would be a slight enhancement of color and making adjustments to ensure that the image is crisp. That's it.
I often take care of small blemishes or distracting objects within a photograph, but try to retain the natural state of what we captured. I believe that originality and genuine images are the best. I just try to make them a little more beautiful.
Many of my fellow wedding and engagement photographers all use the same program I do for most of my editing. Adobe Lightroom. Lightroom is by far one of the most advanced and powerful tools a wedding, event or portrait photographer can use. It allows us to sort, organize edit and enhance images more quickly and efficiently than going through them one-by-one. I still meticulously scan every photo that I take, however, Lightroom allows me to do this better. And faster.
I also utilize a color correction service that gets all of my photos all on the same page. This allows for a more consistent look to my clients' photographs. I've partnered with ShootDotEdit since 2009 for most of my event and portrait photography. In my opinion (and one shared my many others in the wedding photography industry) they are the leader of the pack.
Don’t get me wrong, though. After I receive the color corrected images from ShootDotEdit, I apply my own edits to the photos. This includes meticulous adjustments and alterations to leave what has sometimes been dubbed as one’s “photographer’s fingerprint.” This takes hours and is where the true artistry takes place.
As a side note to any photographers who are interested, ShootDotEdit consistently delivers quality, color-corrected images in a short amount of time. And they offer outstanding technical support and customer help. In the early days of my editing, they were essential in helping me develop my workflow I still use today. They were always there willing to lend a hand and make sure my photographs were delivered in a timely and professional manner.
Owning My Own Wedding Photography Business
I think half the fun of being a solo photographer is in building the business itself. I revel in the fact that I am able to create a structure for myself. It’s also nice to be able to rely on only me for the success or failure of my business.
I love to interact with people in this business. To make them feel something. Happy. Emotional. Nostalgic.
I love to get a group of people together, press the shutter, edit the photos, and end up with something that they can look at and say, "My goodness. That is awesome."
About Adam Shea Photography
Adam is a wedding photographer based out of Neenah, Wisconsin that travels across the state of Wisconsin and abroad for destination weddings. He focuses on rich, vibrant photos which tell the story of his clients' wedding days.
When not photographing weddings, Adam also photographs engagements, corporate events, families, high school seniors, boudoir portraits, and professional headshots. Adam experiments with time-lapse astrophotography and loves to create short films as well. His main subjects are his two dynamic daughters at home.
Adam loves to roast coffee, fish and is active in the political scene. He strives for equality, fairness and compassion amongst all members of society.
Adam Shea started Adam Shea Photography in 2007 and his goal has remained simple: create timeless, beautiful images for couples. He focus on capturing real moments that are crisp, vibrant and beautiful.