Shooting STL family photos is a blast!
What I love the most about families is that each member has their own personality that shines on photo day. Within a family there might be someone who is a little on the shy side, someone who is super outgoing, talkative, funny, silly, serious, or all of the above.
I recently had a chance to shoot an amazing family: Audi, Ari, Desi, & Luca. They were gorgeous and amazing to work with! I’m so happy to have had them in front of my camera. It got me thinking about families and how they’re like a well-worn dress, woven together from many individual pieces to create something whole and beautiful. Each smile, each phase that one passes through and each memory contributes to the family and shapes it in some way.
Documenting Your Family’s Journey
While I usually photograph the beginning chapters of a family (weddings), I love to revisit that family as they continue in their life journey together. As families grow, they don’t only grow in number. They grow in personality, stories, lessons, appearance. I am continually amazed at how quickly things can change. That’s why I think it’s so important to document your family with photos. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — photos are your time machine back to this very moment in your life. They are great for us, but even better for future generations, who will get to look at and ask you you about for years to come.
What I’m saying is that even if you hate being in front of a camera, even if you’re shy, or self-conscious or can only focus on your flaws, it’s important to document your family anyway. In doing that, you’re saying “This is my family, right now. We may not be perfect, but our love is perfect.” Let’s face it, Desi and Luca won’t stay little forever. But I have no doubt that when thier parents look back on these photos, they’ll do it with a smile. Audi and Ari will remember how much joy their children brought them and how perfect life was at that very moment.
Stay fierce, my friends!
The verdict is out on vendor meals. Do you feed your vendors — the photographer, videographer, planner, band? And if so, do they eat the same meal as the guests, or do they get a special meal? Do they sit with guests, or in a private area? Should vendors require a meal in their contract or let their couples handle it on their own?
There’s so much to think about, and the vendor meal question has been sliced and diced in 100 different ways. If you Google “vendor meals” you will see that this is a super hot topic in the wedding world. Who even knew there was so much to consider?!
Two Camps on Vendor Meals
There are two camps on the vendor meal debacle that all boils down to: yes or no. Some people think that because vendors often work 10-15 hours, couples should be required to feed them. Others think that the couple is paying their vendors to do a job and they should plan accordingly. I tend to fall into the second camp. I’m saying that as a vendor, I don’t think it’s necessary or should be required to feed your vendors.
I know this position might ruffle a few feathers, but I’ve tried to think about it and be honest with myself. If I were in any other position with any other job, I would never expect someone who is hiring me to feed me. That’s just not the way it works. I don’t consider myself a guest, because I’m not (unless, of course, I actually am a guest and not working), and I don’t think I should be treated the same as guests.
Now, pause for just a second, because that said — in over 100 weddings that I’ve been a part of, I can only recall two times where I wasn’t fed at all. The first time, I was yelled at by a caterer, who called me unprofessional and said they didn’t have enough food at the buffet for me. The second time, the couple just didn’t feed me. I did not see a problem with it.
I don’t require it in my contracts and I definitely don’t ask my clients before or during their wedding about food. It’s just not an issue for me, at all. I also think I have become a little complacent (read: spoiled) because I’m always fed.
Grateful for Clients
I love my clients and I especially love that “getting something to eat” isn’t something I have to think about at weddings. My clients are, more often than not, concerned about my well-being. They ask if I found my seat. They make sure I get something to eat, and it’s not just a sandwich or a granola bar, either. My couples offer me a drink and seat me among their friends and family. And I am so grateful.
I’ve been to weddings where I was treated 100 percent like a vendor. Hey, that’s ok! I am a vendor. But a majority of the time, I am treated like a guest. At $50 to $100 a plate, couples definitely don’t have to offer me a plate of food. My point is: they aren’t required to treat me so hospitably, but they do. In a way, it’s a really gracious gift. On their wedding day, when couples have so much to think about, they want to make sure I am taken care of. In what other profession does that happen?
I’m a creature of habit, like all humans, so sometimes I have to remind myself to be thankful. And I am so, so grateful for my amazing clients. I know that not every vendor is so lucky. So to my brides and grooms: thank you! I know you didn’t have to feed me, but I’m thankful that you did (and do!). You guys are the best!
There’s something really special about love. When you’re in love, you want to shout it from the rooftops, because you want everyone to feel as vivid and alive as you feel at that very moment. There’s something just as special about having your story documented by someone who feels that same joy in sharing your story through photographs.
My style (like my personality) is bold, bright and fierce. And I can attribute all of that to my gorgeous mother! It’s the affection that I have for my mom that shaped my ideas on love and even my photography style. My mom is a strong, willful, independent and unabashedly fierce superwoman who can make you laugh until your stomach hurts. And you know what, at the very core of love is laughter.
The best part of love is that it can take many forms. Besides the fierce love of a mother, there’s the soft, kind-hearted love of friends spending the day together. There’s the proud love of a father who gives his daughter a blessing to start a new life. There’s the genuine love of a partner, the pinnacle of love.
I love helping my brides through their day, and capturing the emotions and details of your wedding story. I love watching your friends and family wishing you the best, and leaving a wedding feeling like I just watched another one of my best friends tie the knot.
Finding People to Tell Your Story
It’s rare in life to find a perfect partner for projects that need a few more helping hands to create perfection. I truly believe if you find people whose style, both aesthetically and in their overall shooting style, match yours — then you are so, so lucky. I Have found that person in Keera with Gold Hairpin Films.
And speaking of love, I Love (yes, with a capital L) Keera’s style. She is the business equivalent of the yin to my yang. She is the quieter, more contemplative version of myself. Her style is moodier than mine yet somehow, she managed to capture my essence like no else. She is creative and has a passion for creating moving images that tell a perfect story. She is literally always finding different angles, vantage points and lens effects that are unique to her and she tells my story in a way that I couldn’t tell it myself.
I’m so grateful that I found her and that she was willing to trek to St. Louis from her HQ in Kansas City to work on projects with me. Finding her was the biggest blessing and I can not wait until our next project together.
I also want to thank Niaz and Juveria, the subjects in this video. They are so beautiful and so in love that it’s contagious. They were so much fun to work with and I feel honored to have been a part of their wedding. I CANT WAIT to share their photos! So Fierce!
Telling Your Story
At the end of the day, I want to tell your love story in the best way I can. I also want to share with you my knowledge on weddings so you can have the best schedule and most amazing day. I want you to be so comfortable in front of my camera that your truest self shines.
Because life, and love, are all about the moments that make you smile forever.
Sofi Seck Photography
As you may or may not know, I’m a photographer (Psych! I know you know.) But photography isn’t just my job, it’s my passion. It’s so much more than just a job. Sometimes, though, photographers can hyper focus on the “job” part of photography and forget about what made us fall in love with photography in the first place. So lately I’ve been reflecting on photography, women’s issues, identity, and my place in all of it.
I’ve always been confused about my identity. I’m African and I live in America, but I don’t feel African American because I wasn’t born here. On the other hand, I have been here for 15 years, and American values, customs and traditions shaped a huge part of my life. My skin is dark in every sense, but many of my friends have lighter skin and are an entire beautiful spectrum of colors. I’m surrounded in diversity, which I absolutely love.
I’ve also been thinking about my own identity as a strong, black woman, and studying women’s history. I’m amazed at how far women have come — at how far we have come — in terms of being our own person and being allowed to be ourselves. And not only that, but within that, how our do our identities shape us as we are growing? I’ve been contemplating the societal pressure women face to be absolutely perfect, and how that impacts us. I want to celebrate how far we have come and reinvigorate the passion to keep moving forward as women.
New Photography Adventure
So with all that said, I’m really excited to venture into some new, personal projects. I want to create a new body of work that relates to all these concepts and ideas that have been floating around in my head. I’m eager to creatively expresses these new ideas and to share them with you as they take form.
Stay tuned for an eventual debut!
Until then, stay fierce!
I’m not sure where the tradition to give your bridal party gifts came from, but can I just say that I love it? I think this tradition, which I’m seeing more and more, is an awesome way to thank those who have stood by your side — well, forever! Over the years, I’ve seen couples give those in their wedding party a gift and they just light up, no matter how big or small the gift.
A Big Commitment
Let’s be honest, being in a bridal party is hard work! It can be mentally and physically taxing, not to mention that your budget can take a hit. In my country (Senegal), if you’re in a wedding party, the couple pays for your dress and shoes. I didn’t realize how big of a commitment the bridesmaid role was in America until I was in a wedding party myself. Of course, it’s worth it to be a part of a new chapter in your friend’s life.
The people you choose for your bridal party host your bridal shower and your bachelorette party, help you choose your gown and accessories and their own dresses. They help you make or pick decorations, choose a menu and set up the reception site. Your friends hand mom the tissues when you say yes to the dress, make phone calls, help you get into your dress — they are your right hands. And we all know we can use 1,000 hands when it comes to weddings.
In short, you have a certain image for your special day and they help them make it happen. Your friends look and play the part. I think it’s only fitting that after all the hard work, couples show their appreciation with a gift. There’s something beautiful about saying “I am so grateful for you. Thank you.”
Bridal Party Gift Ideas
If you’re trying to think of ideas, I have one to fit every budget:
- If you have the money, take your bridesmaids on an expenses-paid girls trip. This doesn’t have to be crazy. It could even be as simple as renting a cottage somewhere within driving distance and spending a weekend reconnecting. There isn’t a bridesmaid out there who wouldn’t feel appreciated from that gift.
- Have you heard of Greetabl? If not, it’s an adorable, personalized gift that says “I’m thinking about you.” They’re inexpensive and each one can be matched to your friend’s individual personalities. The best part? It’s based in St. Louis!
- There’s really nothing like thanking your bridal party in front of your other friends and family. At the reception, spend a few minutes thanking each person in your party. Share how much you appreciate them, not only for their friendship, but for their partnership with you over the last year. It doesn’t have to be about spending money, but the sentiment of saying thank you.