Hi, we're Hunter and Sarah, a husband-and-wife, luxury wedding photography team. We’re also educators, helping other photographers build profitable and sustainable photography businesses.
It’s that time of year again!! It’s everyone’s favorite HSP annual tradition: the Behind the Scenes Blog!! We’re stoked to give you guys an inside peek into what it’s like from our side of the camera, even during a crazy year like 2021!
To say that 2021 was a busy year as wedding photographers would be an understatement. But even amid the craziness of a year where so much felt different, some things stayed the same. For instance, we still couldn’t help but get in each other’s way sometimes.
And by, “sometimes”…
I mean, “a lot of the time” ????
Although, there was a new theme this year! I call it, “Sarah thinks she’s out of my shot but doesn’t realize I’m using a wide-angle lens.” ????
Which is also sometimes accompanied by, “Nope… I wasn’t finished taking that photo” or, “Even though you’re technically out of my shot, neither of us thought about the reflection.”
But of course, nothing compares to my timeless classic, “Oh crap, were you shooting there?!”
And of course, since I LOVE to be in the thick of the action on the dance floor, I couldn’t help but get in Sarah’s way every now and then????♂️
This is my, “Uh oh, I’m in trouble” face ????
Although at 5’1″, it’s not that hard to get in Sarah’s way…
Maybe that’s why she’s always doing whatever she can to get a little extra height!
How did you even get up there…?
Meanwhile, I’m more likely to lay down on the job, or practice my lunges mid-session.
Although Sarah’s not immune from a little height-reducing action herself!
Another thing that didn’t change AT ALL was my wholehearted devotion to photographing our brides’ details
Even if it sometimes meant making a mess, or standing on the furniture in the process.
And our brides had better be careful or I might run off with their bouquet at the end of golden hour!
We also continued to use the “show not tell” method, in order to give our couples plenty of guidance during their portraits!
Even if it did look like we were just making out on the job sometimes ????♂️
And while Sarah used a few slow moments and test shots to snap some smiling photos of me…
As well as some action-shots…
Sarah stuck to her age-old tradition of making the funniest face she could anytime my camera was pointed at her.
Although she did catch me in a few less-choice moments…
And she even broke out a smile, on occasion!
But for the most part, we were more worried about getting our couples to smile with a goofy joke,
And on occasion, our couples were the ones making us laugh!
But whether we were running to the next part of the day (or away from a sudden afternoon rain storm)…
Or just doing a little jig…
We always had a blast with our couples. Even during the stranger moments like a few fake-out First Looks…
Or… whatever’s happening in these photos.
Uhm… Sarah… I think you missed them!
But that’s okay, because Sarah made plenty of furry friends this year!
While I continued to be every intoxicated groomsman’s best friend
And made some… slightly stranger friends ????
And speaking of friends, even in the midst of a global pandemic, there was no shortage or large Wedding Parties for us to wrangle! Whether we were lining them all up…
Showing them where to point their noses…
Or just giving them directions for the next photo (or where to wait for the ceremony to start).
And of course, the same goes for family photos…
And anyone who wants a picture during cocktail hour!
And of course, we’ll show everyone how to hold their sparklers so they don’t light your hair (or ours) on fire!
Some evenings this was harder than others, mostly depending on whether or not there was an open bar ????
As usual, 2021 saw us shooting on some days that were absolutely frigid…
As well as almost 100-degrees!
Not to mention days where we shot through the rain…
But hey, you make the best of it ????♂️.
Or embrace it all together, and just prepare to get wet!
We also got out our travel bug this year, photographing sessions in the mountains…
On the beaches of Virginia and North Carolina…
Plenty of sessions in our Nation’s Capital…
(Both during and outside of Cherry Blossom season)
Two weddings in marinas…
As well as a handful of desert sessions in Arizona…
And even a fall wedding in Maine!
But no matter where we were shooting or in what weather conditions, our #1 goal was still to love and serve our couples on their wedding day, helping them feel confident and comfortable in front of our cameras.
And while most of the time that meant lots of direction and guidance, encouraging our couples through meaningful and genuine interactions, other times it meant I was just fluffing or carrying our bride’s dress.
Or it meant that Sarah was getting our bride bustled at the end of golden hour portraits…
Even if it meant really getting all up in there!
This is why we tell couples they need to be comfortable with their wedding photographers ????
Sometimes, Sarah even had to call in for backup for a French Bustle. But have no fear: Sarah’s practically a world-record-dress-bustler at this point!
In addition to bustling dresses, we can also pin a boutonniere in record time.
Or do a minor touch-up if your hair and makeup artist has already left for the day.
As long as you don’t mind making it a little easier for my 5’1″ wife to reach your head!!
We’ll even demonstrate how you should cut your cake…
And in case you’re nervous, Sarah will always be there to walk you to your First Look…
Or help you get in (or stay in) your wedding gown!
Meanwhile, I’m always around to help with… well, whatever else needs to happen! Especially when your pants are so tight that you can’t bend over to tie your shoe ???? Looking at you Victor!
And speaking of loving and serving our couples, we continued to run the HSP Apprentice Program in 2021, taking newer photographers under our wings and training them in photography and business!
And one of our main lessons we hoped to impart on them: how to love and serve our couples like they’ll do for their own couples one day!
Of course, we also did some hands-on teaching during the (rare) slow moments of a wedding day…
Even if it looked like they were actually planning to beat someone up ????
On a bittersweet note, 2021 saw us officially graduate one of our longest-tenured Apprentices, Kelly! There were certainly some things that she learned from Sarah by accident over the years ????
As our final test before she graduated, we hired her (at full price, of course) to take our photos. It was so fun to see years of coaching and mentoring pay off in such beautiful images that we get to keep!
And speaking of a wonderful team, we got to work with so many stellar venues and vendors this year! Like Sarah of Day by Fay, who is the only wedding planner we know who shows up an hour early to help us lay out the details!
Our only regret is that we don’t have cool BTS photos like these of every vendor we worked with in 2021!
But we know we’ll have more weddings with more awesome vendors in 2022!
We also got to capture some of our more iconic shots in 2021. Ever wonder how we capture a shot like the ones below?
We’ll give you a hint: we tell our couples that we call it, “Three’s a crowd”
Likewise, these magical images don’t happen just because of a perfect gust of wind…
But because of the hard work of one of our Apprentices!
Speaking of Apprentices, we couldn’t have pulled off our most challenging wedding of the year without them. After all, not only were we photographing Tanner and Jess’s wedding…
But we were also their Best Man and Matron of Honor!
So it took a team of four photographers (plus David and Sarah on video) to pull it off!
In the morning, we were hanging AND shooting in the getting ready suite…
And when it came to wedding party portraits, we each shot the opposite side.
When the time came for the full wedding party, we set up the shot just like normal…
Then hopped in at the last second for the actual photo!
But we had two Apprentices with us on that particular day, since someone other than us had to be there to shoot the ceremony…
And the dancing photos… ????
In our defence… we had only been to two weddings as guests in the prior three years! ???? We were ready to let loose and have some fun, and just celebrate Jess and Tanner!
All in all, 2021 was the busiest year we have ever had. On top of our team capturing 62 UVA Graduation sessions…
Sarah and I photographed 7 surprise proposals…
And 37 engagement sessions…
And more than 40 WEDDINGS…
We also ran 4 virtual or in-person Workshops for our Apprentices…
And spent over 70 hours in 2-on-1 coaching calls!
But we wouldn’t have traded a minute of running our business for anything. Sarah and I are still in love with each other, and love running our business together, loving and serving our couples on the greatest day of their lives, while also helping photographers build a brighter future for themselves through coaching and mentoring.
And most importantly, we got to do it together.
Here’s to a 2022 that’s even better than 2021!
Hunter and Sarah
If you can’t get enough behind-the-scenes goofiness, check out the rest of our BTS Annual Reviews!