I found Lara Swanson and her peeps at A Softer Image through an ad—where else—on the Offbeat Bride site. I halfheartedly looked through Craigslist ads for photographers, and found a lot of online portfolios filled with hokey-looking portraits. The most telling thing in ruling out these photographers was that the wedding pictures—as “journalistic” as they were in black and white, focusing on detail—looked nothing like the wedding I envisioned. I knew these nuptials looked like what I didn’t want (which, as we found out, can be its own theme-ish).
Thus, I count my blessings for seeing Lara’s ad on our underground site, touting photography in the DC area. Her contact info said she wasn’t above haggling, and she wasn’t kidding. Lara was always enthusiastic about the details that everyone else was giving us shit about—riding bikes in, that’s right, dresses—and I basically told her what I could afford, and she told me what she could do for that amount. We contracted for five hours, with an understanding that I could ask for more hours for a specific rate per hour. I did end up asking for two more hours, methinks to make sure Lara caught the cake-cutting. It was well worth the money.
Lara brought two other photographers and her husband, who is also a photographer. They caught so many classic shots, it’s impossible for me to name a favorite. But I have to say that some of the most memorable ones are the portraits, which were the pictures I was most scared about. People so often look awkward, cheesy or both in portraits—but I think the best photographers (like my good friend and peep Amanda) can make you look your best on film, and Lara and her team most definitely did that, as you can clearly see.
I knew after meeting Lara last November in Alexandria that she was the right one for the job. She was always in touch, always interested in our traditions and anti-traditions, and just good company in general. She studied marriage traditions in graduate school, and lauded our efforts to cut out the sexist traditions that we found offensive. I’ve never met someone who knew more about the meaning behind the traditions, and it was awesome to have that insight.
On the big day, Lara and her peeps didn’t just blend in to our festivities—they were a positive presence, interacting with our guests, strategizing about when the best photo ops would happen and complimenting our playlist. They told Eric and me that ours was one of their top five favorite weddings, which is a terrific thing to hear when you’ve spent months preparing for a hugely stressful event. We finally felt like we pulled it off, and the best compliment anyone can give us is that they had a great time.
As many of you know, the day after the wedding Lara already had a slideshow of pictures ready to view, set to a song that she had noticed was on our playlist (The Moldy Peaches “Anyone Else But You”), the quintessence of thoughtfulness.
After the insanity died down, I chose a few pictures for Lara to edit for us, including some antiquing (a certain number of edits was included in our package). I’ll let her work speak for itself here. We were thrilled with these.
And after reading Lara’s blog and seeing the amazing work she has done at births, I’m considering hiring her if Eric and I ever have little ones. I never thought that’s something that would appeal to me, but check out these incredible pictures. She also captured the same couple’s wedding.
We can’t say enough good things about our photography team, and we’re not the only ones. Everyone who comes into contact with Lara and her peeps fall in love with them. So if you have a life event that needs to be captured, give her a call. Or, just ask her to hang out with you.