FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS // An Interview with Emily Steffen

Emily Steffen headshot Emily Steffen is a photographer I met a few years ago and have had the extreme pleasure of really getting to know over the years. Emily and I really bonded after she hired me to do a LOVEe Consult and since then, she has continued to pursue her goals, continued education thru workshops and has even endeavored into the world of film. I honestly could not be more proud of Emily and everywhere she has taken both her work and her company, while never compromising the things that are important to her in life! Emily's work is incredibly inspiring and has even been named the Best Wedding Photographer in the state of Wisconsin by Wisconsin Bride. Emily has become a great leader in our industry and is also such a cool woman with amazing energy and a passion to share her talent with others!



Q. How did you first start to photograph weddings?

A. Wedding photography combines my love of people, art and business. I realized this when I was shooting on the weekends for a larger company in the cities and started to fall more and more in love with the idea of photographing these events with the vision that I had… I wanted something full of emotion and full of life. I wanted to make my own vision happen, so I created a plan, paid off debt and dove in!  I have never looked back!

Q. What were the first steps a photographer should consider when deciding to become a wedding photographer?

A. The first steps to doing anything entrepreneurial would definitely be to nail down finances (or at least have a plan for them). This may seem like a lame answer, but when we are bogged down by the stress of paying bills it can put a MAJOR strain on the creative vision or goals for a business. You are more likely to compromise on ideals and enter into a never-ending stress-filled, downward spiral when you are doing something because it's simply a job. When your days are filled with passion and joy you will reach higher and go farther than you ever dreamed was possible!

Q. You've started to bring more film into your work. How has this transition been for you and how have you implemented it with digital?

A. The transition to bring more film into my work has been amazing! Not only is the color and quality of film something I love, but it has taken LOADS of time away from my computer. I've cut the amount of digital images from each wedding in half which means more snuggle time with my baby instead of editing! I have tried to seamlessly blend my film and digital work with the way I edit and also the way I present the finished work to clients by providing them proof prints! Shooting more film at weddings has really challenged me and forced me to think differently which I am loving!

Boston Terrier wearing a tie at a wedding

Q. How do you view your relationship with the vendors in your industry? Why are these relationships so important to you?

A. Other vendors ROCK! With an event like a wedding, everyone needs to realize that we are all a trivial part of the day when putting together a vision for a bride. From florist to cake and event coordinators to dress alterations, we are all a piece to the puzzle that will make up a bride and groom's perfect and special day. I view my relationships with other vendors as such so that I am able to work as a team even though we all may own different businesses. And let's just be real… being "Minnesota Nice" to vendors and working kindly goes a long way; you never know when your name might get brought up as a referral for another job!

Bride and Groom Wedding Portrait

Q. What kind of resources did you use to gather inspiration?

A. One of my most favorite ways to get inspired is from working in my studio space in my home! :) Sewing and knitting have always been close to my heart so with my sewing machine, loads of fabric and my sketchbook nearby, I just feel endless amounts of energy. Whether I am creating a new plush toy for a baby or designing a new quilt pattern, somehow this relates to my vision as an artist more than anything I've done before. I strongly feel that stepping outside of your main creative industry to find inspiration is KEY! I promise it will refresh you!

Q. Describe the perfect 'Emily Steffen' client.

A. The PERFECT Emily Steffen client is someone that is head over heals in love with their fiancé, ready to plan a joy-filled, happy wedding day with DIY touches, in a venue that has a personal connection to their story and will likely weave loads of creativity into their day! She likely sews, crafts or knits and has an appreciation for handmade items. She shops locally as often as she can and understands the value of a boutique experience! :) And most importantly, the minute she views my blog or website, she knows that I am THE photographer for her!

Bridal portrait

Q. What is one of the coolest weddings you have ever photographed. Why was it so special?

A. One of the coolest weddings I've ever photographed was a few years ago at The Enchanted Barn! The bride's best friend was also the groom's sister… her name was Jessie and she had passed away very suddenly from cancer just a year prior. Since she was such a significant part of Heather and John's lives, the couple had actually already gotten married in her hospital room just before she had passed because they simply couldn't imagine such an important event without her. And on the "wedding day" they had multiple ways to honor her and celebrate her life… because she had introduced them and gave Heather and John a chance to start their lives together!  They played a song that she had sung at another siblings wedding, they did Patron shots in her honor and Heather had worn a few pieces of her jewelry to celebrate her best friend! :) I don't' think there was a dry eye in the house for the majority of the wedding… it was a day full of celebration and memory for their best friend and sister who they had lost and a new family that had begun! It was AMAZING!

Q. What kind of work are you personally drawn to?

A. Personally I am drawn to work that oozes with a story! Images that, when put together in a collection or whole, can tell me something that I have never known or realized before. Be it a birth story, story about love, story of the everyday or a story capturing someone's accomplishments, I am a sucker for a collection with details and dialogue! It opens my eyes to the world around me and teaches me to find things everyday that is worth appreciating!

Bride and Groom kissing

Q. What are some innovative trends you are seeing in the wedding industry right now?

A. Inventive trends in the wedding industry… hmm… there seems to be quite a push towards making as many significant details for your wedding day as possible. And that is one trend that I can get behind. It's your love story and your wedding day so make it YOURS!

Q. You have recently won, for the second time in a row, the title of 'Best Photographer' from Wisconsin Bride. How has this effected your business?

A. Winning the "best of" from Wisconsin Bride magazine has been a GIGANTIC honor both personally and professionally. I feel like it has directly and immediately effected the amount of Wisconsin wedding inquiries I am getting; Wisconsin Bride Magazine is FABULOUS at promoting the contest as well as the results so it's made it's rounds on social media and online! It has also just been a huge personal accomplishment of mine; being named one of the best in the state is something to be celebrated!

Q. What is the best part about your job?

A. BY FAR, the best part about being a wedding photographer is the fact that is allows me to live the life that I've always dreamed about. I am able to be a small business owner, tailor my days the way I desire, walk my dogs when I want to, sleep in when I need to, travel, hug my baby whenever I want to, sew and more importantly I am able to be intimately invited into weddings to creatively tell the stories of other people! How amazing is that?! (and the desserts at weddings aren't too shabby either!)

Groom Kissing Bride on the shoulder in old truck

Be sure to check out Emily Steffen on Facebook!