Last summer, my college roommate got married! Ann and I lived together for three years in college in the most amazing attic apartment. It was a house in Eugene that had been divided into 4 different apartments, and we occupied one of the second floor apartments. It had sloped ceilings in the living room, kitchen, and one bedroom but it was still spacious and light. It was unique but I loved that apartment!
Ann and I decided to move in together after meeting each other exactly once. We both needed a roommate and a place to live so we decided we might as well just live together. We were minutes before signing the paperwork before we decided we should actually get to know each other and ask the important questions, do you smoke? Are you messy? Are you planning on throwing huge parties filled with drunken frat boys?
I guess we didn’t need to ask those questions because we aligned on everything and had an amazing experience together.
Last summer, I was honored to stand up with her as she said “I do” at a beautiful lodge in Oregon, about an hour south of Eugene.
Her photographer, Emily Wenzel, is a friend of Ann’s from when they studied abroad together in Prague in High school. I had the pleasure of getting to know Emily at the wedding festivities and she is fabulous! Not only is she a fantastic photographer, but she is a smart solo-preneur, an avid traveler, and an all-around wonderful lady.
I wanted to share her and her photos with all of you. Meet Miss Emily Wenzel!
Tell us a little bit about Emily Wenzel Photography.
Emily Wenzel Photography is a wedding & portrait photography studio based out of Spokane, WA. I specialize in candid, nature light photographs because I think your photos should match your real life memories. I’ve traveled all over the US and world taking photos. I’ve been a freelance photographer since 2007, and I started shooting weddings in 2012, and I’ve never looked back.
How did you get into photography and how did you decide to finally make the jump to starting your own business?
I’ve been fascinated with photography since I was a kid, but it wasn’t until I was in college that I started really getting into it. I worked at a photojournalist for Gonzaga University’s student newspaper, shooting all kinds of events and sports, and took a class in film photography where I got to do more portrait photography. At that point, I was hooked. But I didn’t start my business for another two and a half years because I didn’t think I could actually do photography as a full-time job. It was only after I’d started my grad degree that I realized how miserable I was, and how much I wanted to be a photographer. I dropped out of my grad school program, started my business, and decided to specialize in weddings because I find so much joy in being a part of one of the happiest days of my couple’s lives.
What is the best part of your work day?
My work days vary so much! Some days, I spent the entire day in my office, editing, emailing, and doing the mundane business stuff like taxes. Other days, I’m at meetings around town with clients and other industry people, touring venues and setting up shoots. My favorite days are shooting days, when I’m actually out with my camera, photographing people. I also love delivering images to my clients. I’m a nervous wreck waiting to see if they like the photos, but when I get emails or texts exclaiming how much they love them? It’s all worth it.
What was your biggest challenge when you first started?
The biggest challenge was getting my name out there. I didn’t know much about marketing, and so it was all very overwhelming. It took a lot of trial and error to figure out what I wanted to do. And some days, I’m still not sure I know what I’m doing.
What is still your biggest challenge?
Motivation. I won’t lie, I sometimes have a really hard time being my own boss. It’s not something I thought about before being my own boss, but it can be hard to stay motivated when you’ve got a huge list of things to do, or when you don’t know where to start. I’ve learned that setting (and sticking to) a routine is the key to staying motivated.
What has been your most challenging photo session/event?
They all have their unique challenges, but I don’t think there’s anything that particularly stands out. I’d say weather is the biggest consistent challenge, because I have to be prepared for everything. After I shot a session in the pouring down rain, I started keeping a change of clothing in the car. Last year, a bridesmaid put her dress on and the zipper broke, right before we did the bridal party photos. So we had to sew her into her dress.
Who do you look to for inspiration?
My clients, hands down, are my biggest inspiration. My goal is to show them how beautiful and wonderful they are. It’s hard in our society because we’re always being compared to some super airbrushed version of reality. I believe that everyone is beautiful, and I want them to see that in their photos. I find a lot of inspiration when I’m traveling. I’m so in awe of the world around me. Traveling, being in a new environment, is a great way for me to push my boundaries as a person and as an artist. I try to stay away from looking at other wedding photographers’ work because I find that I end up comparing myself to them. That being said, I really look up to Susan Stripling, because I think she manages to be both innovative and classic at the same time, and Roberto Valenzuela, because he’s a master at posing people, which is something I struggle with.
What is the number one tip you always share with your clients before a session?
Be yourself! Especially for portrait sessions, it’s easy to think that you should wear this thing, or stand that way, but you won’t end up liking those photos. No matter how stunning you look, the photos won’t look like you. So, I always tell my clients to wear their favorite outfit and be themselves. I think this is especially good to know when you go into wedding planning because it can be so easy to get sidetracked by what is trendy.
Thank you Emily!
Ready to book her for your wedding? DO IT! Has camera, will travel. Give her a call!