Monica Lam is a fine art wedding photographer based in the Bay Area. She's a self-proclaimed old soul with a pesky knack for tearing up behind the camera. We sat down with her to discuss why she loves photographing weddings, her favorite time to shoot a couple, and the most memorable wedding she photographed!
How did you get started doing wedding photography?
I got my start in wedding photography as an assistant. Wedding photography was something I was always interested in but hadn’t pursued yet at the moment. It wasn’t until I was hired as an assistant at my first wedding that I became HOOKED. Everything was so exciting. The glitz and glamour of a wedding, the emotional impact, the team mentality of all different types of artists working together, and every personal detail, all in celebration of two people in love.
Describe your style of photography.
Emotional, authentic, spontaneous, timeless, and elegant. In essence, a photojournalistic approach with a fine art editorial touch. I love making couples feel like themselves, building beautiful memories together, all while creating art.
What should a bride look for in a photographer and how should they compare different photographers?
I think brides should always definitely find photographers that they connect with on a personal level. If their photos are beautiful and they speak to you and your vision, that’s great! But you also want to find someone that you can trust to make the right decisions, take your opinions into consideration, as well as someone that’s fun to be around!
When is your favorite time of day for a shoot?
Sunset! I love how the light changes and slowly gets softer. Plus the couple is perfectly dressed up for a date night afterwards!
Any tips for camera-shy couples?
I would say, a good photographer would find all the best ways to make you feel confident and comfortable. Trust them in what they’re doing and just have fun and enjoy the moment and really take it in! Photoshoots always feel awkward in the beginning, but after a while, you’ll get used to it. Laugh, flirt, and have fun!
What do you think is the most important part of capturing a wedding in photos?
For me, capturing emotion is a big part of why weddings are so important. I think that as a photographer it is my job to photograph the wedding itself, but to also capture moments that bring back a memory and a feeling. For example, a shot of mom tearing up the first time she saw her daughter in her dress or a photo of the groom dancing with grandma, those are the moments I live for! Sometimes, you just have to listen to your intuition and be ready to capture those moments.
What was the most memorable wedding you shot?
One of the first weddings I ever shot, the bride and groom did a choreographed dance and the groom flipped the bride upside down! It was so crazy to see and everyone’s reaction was priceless!
What is your favorite moment or pose to shoot?
My favorite moment is definitely the first look. It’s one of the few times the couple is alone (minus me of course), and the emotions rush in and you truly feel everything that has led up to that moment.
What are some differences between photographing a Western wedding vs. an Asian-American wedding?
Other than the customs and traditions, I’d say that Asian American weddings place a large emphasis on acknowledging elders. For a lot of the weddings that I’ve photographed, it was very important to introduce the elder members of the family as a sign of respect and to acknowledge and thank them.
How do you capture the vibrant colors and details of a cultural dress in photos?
I would usually like to place them against a neutral background so that the red color can really pop! Also, I would love photographing the gold jewelry and pendants given by the elders against the dress as a way to contrast the different colors and textures.
How have you been impacted by COVID19?
Definitely. Of course the big part of my job as a photographer is working with people, so this crisis has had a huge impact on my business. But I truly believe that there’s an upside to everything. This time has given me time to step back and find ways to improve my business. We’ll all come out of the other side stronger than ever!
What tips do you have for brides in navigating wedding cancellations during this time?
I’d say, don’t worry! Everything will work itself out. You’ve waited your whole life for each other, just hold on a little tighter! And don’t let this crisis get you down! You’re getting married!!! The celebration will be that much sweeter!
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