Amongst the vast details that go into a wedding, there is one in particular with high importance: The photographer.
Selecting someone to shoot your wedding should not be taken lightly. It’s important to find a photographer with a style that matches your own. You want someone who will be able to capture the essence of your day exactly how you mean it to be. Wedding photography is not a simple job.
Enter: Jenavieve Belair — a photographer living and working in Los Angeles, California. She has a well-rounded career with a beautiful portfolio of wedding images in particular. Her job involves traveling the world, shooting couples on their big day. The amount of pressure is intense, yet she manages to capture the moments with ease. Read on for a look into Jenavieve’s career and what it’s like to be a real life wedding photographer.
When did you first pick up a camera? Was it love at first sight?
I started buying disposable cameras when I was in junior high. I grew up outside Minneapolis. I would take pictures of everything, from the county fair to the customers at the local Dairy Queen. My dad gave me my first film camera when I turned 15 and that same camera hasn’t left my side since. It was always apparent to me photography was my path, not for business reasons, but for passion and nostalgic reasons. I never want to forget anything.
What subjects do you typically photograph? How does wedding photography play into your regular work?
I started out photographing lifestyle and fashion about 10 years back. I’ve learned doing both allows me to maintain a balance and a structure for an extremely unstructured person like myself. Since I started shooting weddings I’ve noticed more precision in my work and more attention detail. My lifestyle shoots have become more romantic and my wedding work has become more candid, that’s the beauty of wearing both hats.
When did you start shooting weddings?
I started about 3 years ago when a friend of mine got married. I had no clue what I was doing and within a few hours of the day I realized I had found my new niche. It didn’t take long for me to figure it out. Photographing a wedding is about moments and never missing a beat. It’s about feeling what the others are feeling and capturing their emotion on camera.
Do you have any favorite wedding shots that you’ve taken? Why do those images speak to you in particular?
I have one whole wedding that I am in love with. I shot it two years ago at the Henry Miller Library in Big Sur. The couple, Chantelle and Russ, got married in the woods right off of the coast and danced to acoustic music and indulged in a vegan feast. Everything at their wedding was handmade, I mean everything from the napkins to the dream catcher they got married under. That wedding screamed nature, love, and community. Hundreds of photos from that day are on my list of favorites.
What do you find to be special about wedding photography vs. other genres?
Romance. I think there needs to be romance in love and in all aspects of your life and especially your medium if you’re an artist. I take a journalism approach to my wedding photography so it becomes more natural and candid. I oftentimes think that when photographing a model for a brand campaign everyone gets caught up in the artificial beauty and composing “an image”. Wedding photography is far from that, at least for me. It’s about capturing the moments as they pass and not forcing them to be created. It forces you to be focused and emotionally invested in the day and your work.
Do you have a checklist of shots that should be captured at every wedding? What do they include?
Yes, of course. There are certain moments that are standard, certain moments that are a must for a photographer on the big day. The role I play day-of is nothing short of the memory holder. I am the reason the day lives on, the one person who gets to stop time, preserve it, and keep it in the family for generations to come. Moments like the first dance, and the first kiss are priceless. Everything from the father walking her down the isle to cutting the cake. Detail shots of the table set ups and the flowers are just as important as the photos of her dress and her shoes. Brides are so involved in the planning these days that it’s important for them to remember the perfect day that they created.
What is your dream wedding shoot? Who’s getting married, where is it, what is the bride wearing, who are the guests, what food is being served, and what music is playing?
Ireland. I’ve fallen in love with romance and there’s something so special about Ireland. A young couple, madly in love, would be exchanging their vows along the coastline with their closest family and friends. I think the intimacy of just your closest loved ones is sacred. I imagine her dress to be long and old vintage lace and her wavy hair to be blowing across her face as she smiles at him. Van Morrison’s Into The Mystic would be playing in harmony with the sound of the crashing waves. Champagne would be flowing and a chef would be there cooking live for the family. One can dream.
Lastly, what does free mean to you?
Free is what I was raised on, what my mama always preached. It’s the ability to believe in yourself so much that your passion becomes untouchable. It’s your desire to follow your dreams and understanding that you are in control of your destiny and nothing else. It’s being you and doing you, for you, by you.
Thank you, Jenavieve for letting us into your beautiful world of imagery and romance!
Follow Jenavieve on Instagram @Jenavieve
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