Q & A with Riley Photographic
Tim and Chris Riley are the dynamic brotherly duo behind Riley Photographic. They love what they do and it shows in their photos. Chris took some time to answer our questions below on behalf of his brother...
How did you get started in wedding photography?
We actually grew up with photography to some degree. Both our father and grandfather were really avid photographers. My Dad always had a camera and his images were all over our house. At one point he had a darkroom in the basement and was regularly down there making black and white prints from the trips we would take. My Grandfather was also really avid, and he had the funds to purchase pretty much any lens/camera that he deemed necessary. As we got into photography, we always looked forward to visits to the Grandparents. He was very liberal in giving us permission to use his lenses and other gear. Those were great years and we both got to use equipment that was typically way beyond our reach.
As we went off to college we both sought more formal education in photography and did a bunch of work at our respective colleges. We started our business about 12 years ago on a bit of a lark. We were drinking a few beers and celebrating Tim’s birthday; the conversation came up and we started sharing stories of the little bit of work we had been doing for friends and the occasional paid job that came our way. The next thing we knew we bought a domain name, registered the business, and were off and running. It’s been a crazy 12 years, we’ve had a lot of fun, we’ve overcome challenges, and we’ve shot way more weddings than either of us ever imagined.
What do you love about wedding photography?
We both really love the time we get alone with the bride and groom. Even if its only 15 minutes, it is often our favorite part of the day and it results in the images that really resonate with our couples. We also love the fact that it’s a day when everyone is happy and wanting to have a great time—how can you not love that?! In the end, however, what we love is that we get to create a body of images that represents an entire day. Each image stands alone and represents a moment, but when you put them all together they really tell a more comprehensive story. I think that aspect is why we really love it when our clients opt to purchase an album—it gives us the chance to put that story on paper and present it in an elegant manner.
What is the biggest challenge you face when shooting a wedding?
Time and weather. There is really nothing you can do about the weather so we just work around it. We always talk with our brides about contingencies for weather and how to best deal with them. Of course, everyone wants a beautiful day for their wedding, but sometimes it does rain in New England. Having a plan for the rain is important. Having a positive attitude about rain is even more important. In almost 400 weddings we’ve really only had a handful of rainy day events—I guess we are very lucky with the weather.
Timing of the wedding day can be a huge challenge. We are there to capture the event, not to choreograph it or manage timing. I think sometimes that gets forgotten in the midst of the day. There are times when I feel like the person in charge of keeping people on schedule. That’s okay, and we do it well and always with a smile, but in the end, I really want the bride and groom to not feel like their day was rushed.
My advice is to always plan for things to take longer than you expect. Also, understand that the time you set aside for “formals” should be realistic based upon where you want to do your photos and the number of people involved. We do a lot of consulting with our clients to make sure they know what to expect, how long it will take, and how much time we hope to get alone with them. That approach has worked really well for us. In the end, however ,we will work around your timeline and your vision; I think that is one of our strong-suits.
When you're not behind the camera, what do you guys like to do?
We both have families and two kids each. That is the focus of our non-work life and doing what we do allows us a good deal of time with our families. In the summer we can be found sailing, surfing, on the golf course, or with a fly rod in hand. In the winter it’s all about skiing. We rent a house together in Rangeley and all spend our weekends on the slopes. It’s really fun for us to leave work at home for the weekend and spend time together as a group. The kids are now getting old enough to ski and it’s a riot to watch them learn.
How has your photography changed over the years?
I look back at the images we were making when we started, and although there are still many that I love, I am proud of how far we have come and how we’ve evolved.
We are much more diverse now and really look for different angles, unexpected moments, and more creative ways to capture the day. We also love finding really fun ways of photographing the wedding party. Utilizing the landscape in interesting ways for a group of people never gets old. Wedding photography has come so far in the last decade, and has really been allowed to evolve into something that it wasn’t for our parents’ generation. It’s been a lot of fun to be part of that trend and to be keeping pace with both the changes in technology and the imagery.
What sorts of things inspire you when you pick up your camera?
It really comes back to those individual moments and capturing them in an unfiltered way. During a wedding day there are just so many of them that you can’t help but find inspiration. We are capturing the evolution of two people lives and there is a ton of emotion on display. Beyond that, we are inspired to capture things differently than we’ve done in the past. If we can keep doing it a little differently from year to year and keep improving on our images than I think we’ll continue to find inspiration. If that goes away I think it will be time to switch careers, happily I don’t see that happening anytime soon.
Where will your business be in the next five years?
In recent years, we have both found and surpassed our limit for the amount of work we can handle in a given year. We’ve toned it down a bit and have set limits for ourselves; doing that was critical for our sanity. As our kids get older, weekends also become very precious. We both have a number of weddings we are willing to take in a certain year. Sticking to that number keeps us sane and keeps us from getting burned out by the end of a season.
In 5 years we’d both like to sustain that number and be looking to expand the business in regard to the types of weddings, the locations, and the diversity of the overall event. We also do a bit of commercial work for a small list of clients; I know I would like to see that grow a little more and to be doing extensive work for those clients.
To see more of Tim and Chris's photography visit www.rileyphotographic.com.