Today I am thrilled to share with you a Spotlight Interview with Caroline Ghetes, wedding photographer based in Chicago. With an astute eye for in-between moments, she is attentive to movement and emotion and captures creative photos with energy and beautiful lighting. Motivated by a desire to “never forget”, Caroline’s lucky couples will always remember the way they felt and how beautiful they looked on their wedding day.
Why photography? What draws you to it? And why wedding photography specifically? Why photography? So that I never forget. It could be one of the most incredible days of my life, yet if I don’t take at least one photo that captures the essence of that day, I will forget the entire experience as if it never happened. And why weddings? It was the reason I first fell in love with photography. I get to witness and document one of the most incredible days of a couple’s life. And because every wedding is a different experience; new people and new emotions; it keeps me excited every time.
What keeps you inspired and creative? Being aware and observant in my everyday life. Watching movies, listening to music, reading books, as well as being present in real life interactions with people; all those thing inspire me and my work.
What are your favorite destination locations? My favorite destination city for weddings is Charleston, South Carolina. It’s full of history, character, and magic that you only read about in novels and experience in Nicholas Sparks films.
Where do you want to shoot next? France!!! I love anything French. The language, the country, the people, the culture, the food, the music. If anyone in France is reading this and you’re engaged, “Faites-le moi de photographier votre marriage en France, s’il vous plait!”
Describe your wedding photography style in less than 6 adjectives. Documentary, editorial, emotional, raw, artistic, timeless.
What really gets you emotional at weddings? This goes for regular life too, but when a man cries, I cry. Guaranteed every time. When my groom sees his bride for the first time and his face breaks, my heart breaks. Or when I see a grandfather cradling the bride’s face in his hands and his lips start quivering, I’m done.
Favorite trick to capture images of reluctant subjects? (kids, grandparents, nervous-in-front-of-the-camera-types) When someone tells me “Oh you’ll never get my kid smiling in a photo” I accept that challenge and make it my mission to disprove them. I snap a quick photo of the child when they aren’t looking, no matter their facial expression, and I go up to them and show them the LCD screen on the back of the camera and say something along the lines of “I took a picture of you! Wanna’ see?” And kids are naturally so self-centered, so of course they wanna see a photo of themselves! Then I’ll say “Wanna’ do another one? I’ll show you again after!” And I’ll crawl back real quick while locking eyes with them, and take a few great portraits of them until they get bored with me. And that’s it! It’s worked for me every time.
A tip or two for couples who are looking for their perfect wedding photographer. Please be in love with your photographer’s work before hiring them. Meaning, ask to see entire wedding galleries of actual clients’ recent weddings. This will give you a real clear idea of what the photographer’s approach will be on your own wedding day. Also, talk to them! Either by meeting them in their studio, over coffee, on the phone, or Skype; it truly is a great way to see if the chemistry is there and if the photographer is someone you’d feel comfortable having around you the entire day.
So what do you do to get your couples to be natural and comfortable with you? I find out all the juicy fun details about my couples before meeting them. Things like their favorite TV shows or movies, favorite foods, their proposal story, what irks them, etc. so that before I meet them I already have a sense of who they are and their sense of humor.
What makes you give yourself a mental high-five? When I’ve captured a perfect moment combined with perfect lighting and composition. Never gets old for me.
What three photographers do you admire or who has inspired you, either in the past or right now? Sorry, I have five. Tried narrowing it down to three but all five are equally inspiring to me and have been for a long time: Sally Mann, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau, Vivian Maier, Matt Stuart
How has being a wedding photographer made you a stronger photographer overall? I photograph my personal life the same way I photograph weddings. By being observant, anticipating, and present.
Do you have a favorite wedding story? I have so many, it’s crazy. But here’s a moment that happened at a wedding I shot in Charleston a couple of years ago. During the ceremony, the groom interrupted the officiant and said something to his tearful bride along the lines of stopping everything for a minute, and giving themselves a moment to just be present. So he turned her around with her back against his chest, wrapping his arms over her arms, and asked her to just take a few moments to look at everyone who was here for them. For a long minute there was silence. I stopped shooting at one point because all I could do was look at their faces and take in this moment with them. It was off the cuff. It was raw. It was simple. And it was nothing short of incredible. And I will never forget that moment for the rest of my life.
What are you looking forward to most right now? A little personal project I have coming up.
One thing you’d like to let every couple to know before their wedding. Planning can be stressful during the months leading up to your wedding. But on the wedding day? Please don’t be stressed. Easier said than done, right? What I’m trying to say is, don’t let a family member’s negativity get in the way of you being happy on what should be the best day of your life. If the flowers or cake come out wrong…that’s okay! Ten years from now, you won’t actually care. Heck, you probably won’t even care the very next day. But if you stress about it, you are robbing yourself of that time you could have spent being happy and present. And you’ll never get that time back. The only thing that matters that day is that you are marrying the love of your life.