Featuring all-natural, free-range, wedding cake-fed documentary photography – 100% organic with no additives or preservatives, Anne and Bill Holland shoot real life and real love with a passion that knows no limits. Their distinctive style puts them at the forefront of wedding photography in Washington D.C. and Virginia and on the contact list of savvy planners everywhere. Were honored to know them and promote their work on our Worlds Best Wedding Photographers Hotlist and to share our recent interview with them, here with you.
Blair: How did you get into wedding photography?
Bill: Anne had always expressed a strong interest given her dual love of photography and weddings, but Id always been a nature and landscape photographer, so it was a pretty big change for me. We’re both serious romantics at heart though, so it was not out of the realm of possibility. After bringing a camera and a roll of film to a friend’s wedding and getting some great feedback from them as well as their friends and family, we thought, “This is fun, and we get cake. Let’s give it a try.” A few days later we registered a domain name, bought some books from which to study, found mentors, and we were on our way. We love it and continue to grow and learn everyday even though we don’t always get cake. It’s probably for the best.
Blair: What is your favorite moment or tradition at weddings?
Anne and Bill: Jewish couples experience something called Yichud at the conclusion of their ceremony, where they go off by themselves for a short while to enjoy a few moments of privacy and contemplation. We often capture the first few minutes of this from a discreet, quiet distance, as it’s often highly emotional. We think it’s a great idea, regardless of one’s faith. It’s also a great time for couples to nosh, so it’s not quite as pitiful later on while we watch their entrees sitting there getting cold while they visit with their guests. We don’t photograph the noshing too much though…hasn’t proven to be very popular.
Blair: What really gets to you at weddings? Makes you cry? Makes you laugh?
Anne and Bill: A great toast will almost make us forget to capture the reactions of those listening and the parent dances are usually what cause us to wipe a tear or two away. Alternately, it’s really tough holding a camera straight when our sides are splitting from laughing so hard. Later, the way their friends and family hit the dance floor with utter joy and complete abandon will always make us laugh. Alternate uses of neckties are big hit as well. Regardless, wherever there’s strong emotion between a couple and their families, it really affects us. It’s those moments that we carry with us and that drive us each and every week.
Blair: What’s your favorite wedding location?
Anne and Bill: The next one. Sure, we love some great spots, Clifton Inn and Pippin Hill here in Charlottesville first come to mind, but honestly we love being able to photograph a venue that’s new to us. It may sound counter-intuitive, but not being familiar with a venue can really spike one’s creativity. Years ago we’d get excited when we got an inquiry at a particular venue, but it didn’t take us long to discover that our emotional experience after a wedding had everything to do with the couple and their families and hardly anything to do with the venue.
Blair: What gets you up in the morning?
Anne and Bill: Coffee for B. Tea for A, that and the fact that we are trusted completely by our clients. We must create honest and artfully captured photos of their personalities and those of their families and friends on one of the most memorable days of their lives, photos unlike the ones we took of a couple last week or last month. Six days a week our job is like most any other office job and editing, post-production, albums and blogging help us often spend twelve hours a day in what we used to refer to as “the hole.” But the wedding day is the day we really look forward to, that and the possibility of eating cake. Have we mentioned that already? (Oh, and now that we refurbished the studio/office, and it’s no longer “the hole”, we’d love to have you come visit!)
Blair: Okay, so what is your favorite kind of cake?
Anne and Bill: Oh, there are so many. We both would have to say our very favorite is Salted Chocolate Caramel.
Blair: Can you describe your wedding photography style in less than 6 adjectives?
Anne and Bill: Truthful, artful, and beautiful. It’s best summed up in what we tell our clients: “Lose yourself…we’ll find you.”
Blair: Do you have a favorite first dance song, and why?
Anne and Bill: The one that causes tears of joy. Obviously not everyone will react the same way, but we’re suckers for it when it happens. We always love hearing ours at the weddings of our clients, too. At Last! by Etta James gets us every time as we see each other across the dance floor.
Blair: A tip or two for couples who are looking for their perfect wedding photographer?
Anne and Bill: Since they’ve likely never done it before, most couples don’t really know what to look for in a photographer, and many bridal magazines suggest a list of questions that are often of more help in a compost pile. Having a friend’s recommendation will help, as will the suggestion from another trusted wedding professional. But in the end, the two most important things are 1) to look through a complete wedding (not just the highlights) delivered by the photographer to the couple, and 2) to at least chat on the phone or email if you can’t meet in person. Surround yourself with people you love and trust on your wedding day, and that don’t stress you out.
Blair: A tip or two for couples on how to look amazing and feel comfortable in their photographs?
Anne and Bill: An engagement session can work wonders for the camera-shy. Also, couples need to just try and forget the photographer is there and enjoy themselves. If they’re comfortable with the person photographing them, they’ll automatically be more comfortable overall, and their personalities will be able to shine through. On the wedding day, the first few minutes may be a little weird for a client, but we encourage them to just relax and ignore us. Within a short bit they inevitably do.
Blair: One thing you’d like every couple to know before their wedding?
Anne and Bill: That it’s not about the wedding. That may sound odd coming from wedding photographers, but it’s truly not. We love the Jewish proverb that says “May your wedding day be the worst day of your life”. It’s a wonderful time for all your friends and family to come together in one place to celebrate you, your love and it can be an amazing party, but that’s really what it is. It’s an incredible way to mark your transition into this new phase of your lives – marriage and your commitment to love and support each other. Easy during the good times, harder during the bad, but it’s not just about you anymore and you both have to work every day at keeping that love, comfort and joy that you felt on your wedding day, alive. This past September we celebrated 10 years of marriage, which have certainly been more sweet than sour. We know how lucky we are, but living and working together nearly 24 hours a day, we definitely have to work at it. Seeing happy couples each Saturday certainly doesn’t hurt – especially the couples, grandparents, and parents who have been married for many years – they remind us of what the big picture really is.
Blair: What makes you give yourself a mental high five?
Anne and Bill: Capturing that decisive moment. We know it immediately and it is the BEST feeling.
Blair: How has being a wedding photographer made you stronger photographers over all?
Anne and Bill: We deal with such a wide variety of situations with lighting, space, and timing. We have control over virtually none of it, yet we’re expected (and rightfully so) to produce a high-quality body of work at each and every wedding. So we have to stay on our toes, be flexible, and creative. It’s also what makes the career enjoyable – that rush on the wedding day.
Blair: How has witnessing so many weddings impacted your life and outlook?
Anne and Bill: We’ve had to start splitting a piece of cake instead of each having our own. It’s been really hard, because we’re both frosting people! Beyond cake though, just when we think for a second that “we’ve seen it all”, we witness something new. It’s really refreshing. We’re so grateful to meet so many different people and bear witness to different traditions, hear compelling stories, and be able to capture it for our clients and their future generations. Both of our sets of parents have been deceased for a few years now, so it’s important for us to make sure we capture the people who mean the most to each couple, as they really are. Those are the favorite pictures we have of our parents. It perhaps makes us even more sensitive and observant to those fleeting moments on such a busy, fast-paced day.
Blair: Do you have a favorite style of wedding that you like to shoot?
Anne and Bill: One that reflects the couple and their personalities. It can be modern, vintage, DIY, glam, intimate, etc. as long as it is true to the client. Couples getting married should feel the freedom to make their wedding day theirs, partaking in the traditions that speak to them. Not only will they be more comfortable, their guests will enjoy it even more when they can feel the couple’s infusion on the day. Throughout their lifetimes, people will attend many weddings, so why would they want to experience the same thing over and over?
Oh, and relaxed. That’s not a style, of course. It’s an attitude. But it makes all the difference in the world.
Blair: What is the best possible/your favorite reaction from a client when you deliver their images?
Anne and Bill: Utter joy, happy tears and knowing they see themselves reflected in their photographs.
Blair: How do you know you’ve done a great job for your wedding clients?
Anne and Bill: One of the best compliments we receive is, “I can’t believe you captured that, especially when I didn’t realize you were there.” Also, “You captured us and our personalities perfectly.”
Blair: What’s the best thank you that you’ve ever received?
Anne and Bill: Oh gosh, how to narrow that down? It’s tough and really, every thank you means so much to us. We have the typical artist’s sensibility and have to remind ourselves sometimes that even if a client doesn’t respond right away, that doesn’t mean that they don’t love the images. We know we’re only as good as our most recent wedding and that our best ones are yet to come. We once received a touching, highly personal letter after a wedding that left us both in tears. It’s always gratifying to be appreciated and see our blood, sweat and tears (literally!) rewarded with sincere joy from our clients.
Blair: What are looking forward to most right now?
Anne and Bill: Our next wedding, of course! But it’s also that time of year when we start to take a breather, shift focus and work on the many projects that were neglected during the busy season. The winter season is when we get to travel to visit friends, attend conferences, see new places and recharge our batteries. Oh, and sleeping in on a Saturday!
Thank you Anne and Bill!