When I first went to Mary and Jamie's website, I checked out their About Us page. It is a picture of them in sun glasses holding slurpee's and a beach ball. I knew right then that Mary was someone I had to meet. I haven't been let down since. I just know that you are going to like as much as I do...so let me introduce you to Mary Fisk-Taylor of Hayes and Fisk Photography in Richmond, Virginia.
What made you decide to start your business?
Well, it is a super crazy story that brought Jamie Hayes and I together. I actually was getting married and Jamie photographed my bridal portraits. He was working with a local Richmond studio and I knew that he had a lot of talent. He did so much to make me feel comfortable in front of the camera and I really love the images that he took. I was working in politics and law and was newly married and frankly did not give it much more thought. Until I had the most beautiful and perfect baby girl for him to photograph. I knew that I wanted to find that guy that did such a great job on my bridal portraits because if he could make me look good he could certainly take perfect portraits of my little princess. Now here we are 19 years later. He had just started his own studio and I was literally one of his first clients. I loved his work but knew he needed help with the business. I started helping out and this grew into photographing here and there and my love for the business and art of photography grew organically from there. Our studio just celebrated its 20th year in business and we are a proud small local business with very deep roots in our love of creating images that families will cherish forever.
Do you only photograph weddings as well as portraits? What is your favorite?
We are a full time, full service studio. After 20 years we have been compared to and referred to as visual historians. We are at the point in our lives where we have photographed the parent’s weddings, and documented the family as they have grown. It is so cool to look back and remember photographing the engagement, bridal and wedding of a couple and now we photograph their family portraits, children’s portraits and even some high school senior portraits! Wow, time flies when you are doing what you love to do. Eventually we will be photographing their children’s weddings!
If you could describe your style of photography in three words, what would they be?
Classic, Professional and Timeless
What is in your camera bag that we wouldn’t expect?
We have all of the usual suspects and even a complete wedding day emergency kit with a sewing kit, safety pins, Rolaids, smelling salts, Band-Aids, etc., etc. but what might surprise you is the small treasure trove of goodies for the little ones. When we are photographing a wedding there are small children in the families and wedding parties a lot of the time. These kiddos are tired, hungry and exhausted but everyone wants the cutest and best pix of them in the pictures. So we have found that fun and unexpected squeaky toys and bribing them with little fun trinkets can get their attention just long enough to get the perfect image. And, we also have a small bag of dog treats for the occasional four-legged members of the bridal party!
Okay, I would have never thought about things like that. What a great idea!
If you could do a photo shoot of anything, what would it be?
Okay this is a tough one. I can honestly say that if a client is engaged with me and we are having a good time and I know that I am creating the best possible images for them then that would be any photographer’s dream. But, I guess if I could have a pie in the sky photo shoot it would have to be celebrity based. I would love to photograph Adam Levine of Maroon 5. I am a completely gob-smacked by that man and I think that I would melt from excitement but photographing him in his space would be a dream. I love character studies and photographing people, doing what they do, so he would be my dream shoot.
What is our favorite part of your business?
The best feeling in the entire world is delivering that perfect wedding album or portrait to a client and sees them become emotionally moved by the presence of my work. I mean seriously what could be better than that? Watching someone take your vision and artwork and embrace it as their own. Yes! Great feeling and it makes my heart so full and confirms that I am doing what I am supposed to do.
How many weddings do you shoot a year?
We photograph about 18 weddings a year.
What packages do you offer? Do they include an Engagement Shoot and a Bridal Shoot?
We offer each of our couples a complimentary engagement and bridal portrait session. All of our wedding collections include full service and products as well as our time. I am kind of old-school on this but I really want all of my couples to have something to hold, and share and look at together. I cannot stand the thought that all of their memories reside on a memory stick or live in the cloud somewhere. I love creating beautiful and finished top quality leather albums that illustrate their story from beginning to end. So all of our collections must include a story book. I believe that images are so much more powerful when printed and shared, but we do offer the files as well so it is truly the best of both worlds.
What is your process? Do you meet with your brides beforehand?
Heck yes! We work with many out of town brides and grooms every year but I try, try, try to meet with them as many times as possible before the wedding. The relationship and comfort factor between a couple and their wedding photographer is so important. If the couple lives close by then it is not a problem but if they are out of town we try to meet with them when they are in for visits or since we travel quite a bit if I know we will be near or in their home town in the future we try to meet them there. Most of our couples choose to have engagement portraits created with us so that is a huge plus. Being able to spend the time with them and photograph them before the wedding gives us so much great information about them as a couple plus how they react in front of our lens. And, hopefully they get a since of who we are, and they grow to like us and will feel super confident and comfortable with us by the day the wedding gets here.
How do you send your files to your brides?
All of our collections include the digital files as well as the custom design album.
Do you work with a second shooter?
Yes, we have a second photographer with us as well as a lighting assistant to make sure the day rolls as smoothly as possible on our end.
What is your favorite type of venue to shoot?
We love to photograph in any and all venues. We really do, but if I had to pick one location it would be an over the top ballroom with amazing chandeliers, luxe linens and dripping florals.
What trends do you see with the current brides?
Something that we are seeing more of and I love to see is the idea of skipping the wedding favor and making a donation to a charity, group or organization. I love this trend and feel that the bride and groom supporting something that is personal to them and their family is such a great way to show and share the love.
What is your favorite song that you use for your wedding videos? What’s the most popular song that couples request?
I am kind of out of the loop with this one. I only use copyright free music so I use what I think my couples will enjoy when I create mixed media presentations.
Now that we've heard a little about your business, I always like to ask a few questions to know the person behind the camera...
What do you like to do when you are not photographing weddings?
I love to travel. I just love exploring and going to new places. If I could travel and see something new every single week I would be so happy!
What are the five presets on your car radio/iPod?
Ed Sheeran, Maroon 5, the soundtrack to 50 Shades of Grey, Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel. Love to mix up some old school throw backs and new hits!
What are your three favorite apps on your phone?
BuzzFeed, Mextures and Where Chefs Eat
I have now downloaded Mextures on my iPhone...thanks for the hint.
If you weren’t a photographer, what would your dream job be?
I would travel the world and teach photography and the business of photography.
Just two more questions to sum everything up...
If you give the brides one piece of advice, what would it be?
I have been sharing this piece of advice for 20 years now, only hire vendors that you like. You have to trust your gut. You have to really like these people. We are in charge of capturing one of the biggest days of your life thus far and you need to trust us and like us.
If you could tell the brides one thing about your business, what would it be?
For 20 years we have been fine tuning our craft and every single year we take at least two weeks out to go and learn from other mentors to bring our photography to an even higher level. We only use the finest albums, leathers, paper and frames for everything we deliver and we personally handle every image from capture to delivery. We are a small but mighty company that truly puts our client’s first and telling their stories is an honor and privilege that we do not take lightly.
Thanks Mary for taking time to talk to us. I learned so much. And guess what, Mary will be photographing some of my invitation designs soon, so keep checking our social media and blog posts to check out more of her great work. Until then, be sure to follow Mary and James on their social media.