Kat Rizza Photography discusses how she excelled at capturing the beauty and energy of Monica and Kurtis’s Berkeley Fieldhouse wedding and how she steps into her client’s shoes and figures out what they will like.
You captured such a huge range of emotions and experiences between the getting ready pictures and the wedding ceremony. What was your approach?
My approach is to never stop shooting! I don’t direct anything during the morning of a wedding day and I try to be really quiet and sneaky so people forget that I’m there. The best candid & emotional photos are made when the subjects are being totally natural and just living out the day. When real life happens, good photos are made! That said, I try to spend as much time as possible getting to know my couples before a wedding day. The more I understand about their relationships and situations, the easier it is to anticipate moments and find storytelling layers. When a couple feels comfortable having me around, the more they ignore me – just the way I like it! Hahaha.
You took some gorgeous portrait photographs around the vintage staircase at Berkeley Fieldhouse. You played with the light and composition effectively to capture beautiful results. What were your thoughts when you viewed these?
I love those! That started from a vision of Monica & Curtis. They loved the staircase and it was their one specific request for photos at the Berkeley Fieldhouse. I was a little scared because it’s tricky lighting and we only had about 3 minutes to shoot in there (before the ceremony) but we worked together and just made it happen. They brought the drama with their posing and I played around and moved quickly and – I think we nailed it!
The wedding ceremony was unplugged, how did this effect the feeling of the day and how did it change your experience?
Yes it was! I personally don’t mind having guest photographers shooting alongside me but it’s a really special gesture for couples to put total trust in me to make the only photos of their wedding ceremony. This wedding was tricky because the ceremony started a bit late so we were losing daylight quickly. The lighting at the beginning changed completely by the end so I had to make quick (and stressful) decisions about adding flash. I decided to do a mixture of both and would make almost every frame with flash and then without. Some photographers wouldn’t do that because it kind of interrupts the cohesiveness of the gallery but it’s important for me for images to stand on their own so I did!
Throughout the day there is a balanced mix of formal stylized portraitures of the wedding couple and also whimsical playful moments captured. How did you capture such a fabulous range?
Oh my, thank you for the kind words. I guess I can say, I never stop shooting! Seriously, I have so much energy when I’m behind a camera and I really feed off the energy of the people around me! I have a tendency to want more and more and better and better pictures so as long as my couple is game to keep going, so am I! I also shoot with myself in mind – what would I want to see if it were my wedding gallery? I’d want everything so I try to deliver that, as best as I can.
What about this venue did you appreciate from a photographic perspective?
For the type of photography I love to make, the Berkeley FieldHouse is a dream location! There are unlimited cool places to make photos. I could shoot a wedding there every weekend and never run out of ideas. The variety is unparalleled. Within 10 minutes, you can shoot cityscapes, nature-photos, dramatic lighting and a million different architectural elements. It’s the best.
How do you feel the photographers thoughts and perceptions make their way into the wedding day photographs?
That’s a really good question. Wedding photography can be difficult because no matter what is happening in your own life, you have to bring 100% positive energy to a wedding day. Not only because you will get better photos, having a good repore with the couple but also because it’s their freaking wedding day! I always tell people that I never want to treat a wedding day as a production because I really respect that this is a big day for them and it’s not about me in any way. I’m lucky because I’m naturally a positive and energetic person so it doesn’t take much for me to be ‘on’ during a happy event like a wedding. If I’m ever having an ‘off’ day I do more prep work ahead of time to clear my mind, get inspired and prep lots of yummy food to snack on all day. Cookies always help.
“If I knew how to take a good photograph I would stop.” Martin Parr What do you think of this quote?
Haha that’s a good quote. If you can detach and look at your own work critically, there will always be SOMETHING that can be improved. For this reason, photographers never stop. Photography is either the perfectionist’s nightmare or most perfect career path. I’m still deciding.
Monica and Curtis are fun and chill people! It rained on their wedding day, their ceremony started late, I’m sure a million other things went “wrong” behind the scenes but they are the best because it didn’t phase them. They lived in the moment and had fun. Both from a human and a photographer perspective, nothing is better than that! There was a great crew of people working on the wedding – awesome officiant, dj/mc, Berekeley staff etc. The couple maintained positive attitudes and the vendors helped support. It was a team effort!
You chose to take some beautiful night photographs in the garden with the twinkling lights. How do you effectively navigate a space to leverage special photographic opportunities?
Because of another wedding, we totally were not allowed back there – can I say that? Haha delete if its not good to say out loud. I’m really good at sneaking into places that I’m not supposed to be! When I scout a location, I try to imagine it with different lighting scenarios. Those photos wouldn’t have worked the same way if we had done them earlier. Also, as a general rule, I love nighttime photos in the city in the rain. Lots of twinkly lights and fun reflections to play with. I also try to save the most romantic photos for the end of the day when the couple can just absorb all the events and be together. It’s a special time!
As an artist how do you best process each wedding experience to continue to grow and evolve and bring a unique fresh perspective to each situation?
I try not to do the same thing twice. There are always so many variables, even returning to the same location doesn’t mean making the same images. I try to focus on different elements if I’m returning to the same space. Honestly though, the couple’s energy directs everything for me. Next time I’m at the Berkeley Fieldhouse I will do something totally different in the courtyard and we can compare 🙂
Speaking of Art: John Szarkowski on Eugène Atget says ” He practised photography not to express what he knew and felt but to discover what he might know and feel.” What do you think of this quote and its meaning for the process of taking photos?
Interesting. I like it. I can actually relate very much. I think wedding photography is unique because you are working with so many elements to bring a story together. You have to make a million decisions about what to include and what to discard in the documentation of the day. On one hand, you truly only have your own perspective so you’re relying on your own ideas and intuitions. On the other hand, you have to remember to step into your client’s shoes and try to figure out what they will like. It’s not like they’re seeing your work in an art gallery and purchasing it off the wall. They’ve essentially purchased the art without seeing it first and that’s a huge responsibility for a wedding photographer to take. On that note, I have a special skill for seeing many points of view at the same time. I credit my studies in philosophy for that one. People always joke that Philosophy is a meaningless degree but based on my experiences with wedding photography, I beg to differ 🙂