Artist Interview - DC Photographer Anna Schmidt
It is always a thrill for us to show off the work of our members and to give you a glimpse into their artistic lives. Today we’re sharing our interview of Anna Schmidt, and letting you in on how she became one of the few photographers we recommend in Washington, DC.
Hi Anna, Can you tell us a little about how you started your career in wedding photography?
Documenting stories is in my blood. After my father retired from the U.S. Army, he became a genealogist, tracing our family history all the way back to the 1200s in Switzerland. He was a storyteller, too. Finding authentic documentation was a crucial aspect of piecing together who we were and where we came from, and any photographic evidence my father came across was like finding a rare and remarkable piece to that puzzle. I always felt that photographs told our families’ stories with much more depth and satisfaction than any written documentation could, and it was the photography that I found most interesting of all my father’s discoveries. From expressions on faces to clothing choices, it was fascinating for me to see who these people were and what life was like for them. Everyone had a story, and each one was told through photographs.
Inspired by my father’s research and the values he instilled in me, I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Photography and established my wedding photography career in 2010. My core beliefs have shaped the enduring commitment I have to this work, and it’s my pleasure and my privilege to capture the most important moments in my clients' lives.
What is your creative process when looking through a camera?
It's my ultimate goal to showcase the vibrancy and joy that a wedding day brings when I am photographing any aspect of an event. So having that mindset dictates every decision I make with my camera.
Lighting is essential -- I always aim to either find or produce light that is soft, diffused, and directional. This gives my images that vibrant, light-filled look and allows me to bring out the colors later on in post-production. If I am photographing a couple, I aim to make them feel comfortable and natural in front of my camera so that they can showcase their unique personalities and the special bond they have as an engaged couple. Establishing a personal connection is an important aspect of being able to get this result; we have to be able to trust each other or else I won't be able to effectively capture this aspect of their relationship or photograph the joy that this special time should be bringing to their lives. Facial expressions, hand placement/gestures, and foot/hip placement are key signals that I look for to see if a couple is comfortable in front of my camera. The more comfortable they are, the more natural these elements will fall into place, and the easier it will be for me to capture their unique connection.
I also like to have clean backgrounds when I am photographing so that I can truly feature what I am intending in each photo, and that there are no distracting elements that take away from the emotional experience when looking at the photo later on. Paying attention to details like these when photographing often pays off in the long run.
How do you prepare for a big wedding?
Lots of research, planning, and connecting/collaborating with the wedding planner/designer to ensure that Plan A, B, and C have been accounted for. I want to have all the logistics down so that once I arrive I can fully immerse myself in the wedding for my couple. Each carefully chosen location a couple chooses to marry is a significant aspect of their story (I like to think of it as a character in their story). So I want to know as much as possible beforehand so that I can ensure I am capturing those important aspects, and I often devote additional time to capture the scenery and other location elements that give the feel of a certain destination. Whether surrounded by grand marble pillars of classical architecture, gilded ballrooms reminiscent of Paris, towering gothic cathedrals, or rolling hills of green vineyards, I love capturing extraordinary settings in wedding images that allow my couples to relive their event years from now.
As an artist who photographs primarily luxury weddings, what advice can you give about working with designers and planners?
Working with skilled wedding designers and planners is absolutely essential, and communication is key. Talented planners/designers have ensured a smooth process for both me and my team and our couples leading up to and during the big day. They can enhance a couples' vision beyond their imagination, allowing them to thoroughly enjoy the no-stress wedding day we all hope for. And that makes our job as photographers easier as well, allowing us to capture all the beautiful details that add to a couple's story, and all of the authentic moments that showcase our couples in a joyful state without worries. I work closely with my couples’ wedding planners/designers and collaborate with them ahead of time on the wedding day timeline to come up with back-up plans and to ensure my team and I are afforded the opportunity to successfully capture all elements of an event no matter what. Photographing a wedding is much more efficient when I work with talented and effective planners/designers since I am able to focus solely on creating impactful imagery while the wedding day logistics are safely with them. I also like to ask wedding planners/designers ahead of time what they need from me to help them make a wedding day go smoothly for our couple. Any time vendors can collaborate and problem solve creates a better experience for everyone involved!
Who inspires you? Are there any favorite photographers, pianners, musicians or other artists that stand out for you?
A very difficult question -- there are so many! Annie Liebovitz, Lee Miller, and Pete Souza -- I have a great admiration for photojournalism and portraiture. Capturing significant (and sometimes very difficult) historical events and figures with such composure and objectivity is an important contribution to our current culture and documenting authentic history for the future of humankind.
Thank you, Anna! It is a pleasure and an honor to promote your work.
Check out Anna's website or view her portfolio on World's Best right here.