April 01, 2012 —
The groom had full-sleeve tattoos, down to his wrists, on both arms. Out of respect for his bride’s very conservative family—and despite the oppressive Orlando heat—he kept his shirt and jacket on throughout the day. Yet Becka Robinson noticed something while she and her husband Nate were shooting images of the new couple together.
“The way he was hugging her, his jacket had pulled up and you could see his [tattoo] sleeve from his elbow down,” Becka explains. “The picture is literally just her back with his arms wrapped around her, and you can see his sleeve,” she describes, pantomiming the length of the tattoo. “It’s one of my favorite pictures, because it’s him.” She clearly knows the groom well enough to make this claim. “It’s who he really is and who they really are when no one else is around, when the family expectations aren’t there. Those are the kind of detail shots that we really enjoy getting for our couples.”
Every wedding has its must-have images—the moment the groom first sees the bride in her dress, the first kiss, the first dance. But some images are also unique in how they draw you in and set the mood—not for the ritual of the day, but for the ambiance, the colors, the treats and the details. Sometimes the best way to capture the overall feeling of a wedding day is to look closer, narrowing in on the smallest elements that were pored over for months before the actual day arrived.
Becka and Nate Robinson of Orlando’s Studio 222 Photography have made a name for themselves by focusing in on those details. Capturing all the anticipated shots, they go beyond the expected with their detail work, which ranges from creative ring shots to documenting the shoes, jewelry, and atmosphere that the bride, groom, friends and family have brought to fruition. Their attention to such details infuses a more intimate feel and emotion into the images of their clients’ wedding days than the average photographer delivers.
Photographically, Becka and Nate have grown into a seamless unit, each bolstering the other where they may be less confident or need assistance. “When we first started, Nate was definitely the technical camera guy and I was the visionary person,” Becka says, referencing her background with graphic art and Web design. “I could see these things, but then I just couldn’t make it happen with my settings. So we kind of had to teach each other the parts [at which] each of us was weaker.” Nate chimes in, “And I think that shows a lot. Because so many times, people will say ‘You guys see things that nobody else sees,’ or ‘You guys see things from a different perspective than anybody else.’” He shrugs and looks at Becka, “We find things that I never would have thought to take a picture of. And that’s why they want to hire us, because of the details. Because not only can we see it, but we can execute it.”
The style they bestow on the wedding day has become so fluid that Nate admits that sometimes he can’t tell if he or his wife shot the images. They are so linked that the story of the day unfolds in the images in one synchronistic voice. And that voice continues to grow more contiguous the more they work together.
When Becka and Nate first started to photograph together, Becka had been asked to shoot a friend’s wedding and brought Nate along as a second shooter because she knew he could use a camera. “She basically told me that if I didn’t shoot it, they were just going to take pictures themselves. So there was no pressure at all.” Becka adds, “We kind of surprised ourselves with how much fun we had doing it together and with the pictures that we got.” Since then, they have continued to take on more weddings and venture into nearly full-time wedding photography, moving away from the portrait business that Becka had started on her own.
The fact that their first wedding was that of a friend informs part of their charm. They take a great deal of time getting to know their clients, and take pride in their personal accessibility. They maintain open Facebook accounts, Twitter feeds and blogs, which allow them to freely and conversationally communicate with current, future, and potential clients. Becka blogged for fun even before she established her business, as she greatly enjoys writing as well as photography, and clients and friends started to comment on some of her detail work. “That was when our details were really something that we were starting to focus on. I think it came from my love of shoes, because I would always take tons of pictures of the brides’ shoes and post them on my blog. And it became this running joke with the women that read our blog—my addiction to really nice high heels,” she laughs.
For Becka, focusing on shoes naturally progressed into fun detail images of rings. With her macro lens, she had taken charge of ring shots when shooting weddings, which Nate was originally happy to let her do. An occasion arose, however, in which Becka couldn’t make the time and asked Nate to take over. “We were at a wedding, and she just didn’t have time to do it,” he explains. “So she came to me with these four rings and said, ‘Do something with these.’ I had never done a ring shot before, and I didn’t know at all what to do. I remember trying to hang all these rings on rose petals and thorns and it just looked stupid and terrible,” he recollects, shaking his head. “I just kind of panicked, so I looked around and there was this cool little lantern that had four wrought-iron rings on the bottom and I hung each [ring] of top of those and got really lucky with a cool ring shot. After that, I started to say, ‘Hey, let me try the ring shot,’ and it worked out.”
Becka laughs, lamenting that Nate began to take her macro lens and not let her do the shots anymore. “My favorite ring shot that I’ve done, to date, was when we did an engagement session with a police officer. He had emptied out his gun, and I set the ring in the middle of all of his bullets. The next wedding after we posted that, I had a groom walk up to me. He kind of pulled me aside and said, ‘I don’t really want to copy that shot, but I brought a bunch of shotgun shells—can we do something with them?’” Becka recounts, laughing, “He whipped them out of his tux pocket!”
Brides started calling the photographers ahead of time to ask for advice on what shoes to buy for the pictures, or if they should bring along any fun props. These days, when they show up on the morning of the wedding, oftentimes brides have laid out all of their jewelry, shoes and headpieces so that Becka and Nate can get right to work. “As it became something that we liked to do more and more, it became something that we would show more and more, and then it became something that our couples were really excited about and proud of,” says Becka. “It’s something that happened because we thought it was fun, so if that’s become something that people want, it’s even more fun for us.”
Indeed, their clients have come to expect the Robinsons’ unique detail shots, particularly with the rings. Becka and Nate have run the gamut with interesting ways to display and document the rings. “We’ve shoved them in candy bars, we’ve dropped them in glasses of champagne, we’ve put them on sushi. We always try to clean them off,” she quickly adds with a laugh. They try to do the ring shots during the reception so that there is less pressure on the wedding party to keep track of them and to make sure they are where they need to be when the couple is standing at the altar. “That way they are pristine for the ceremony,” Becka says reassuringly.
What is perhaps most remarkable about Studio 222 Photography is that its clients trust the photographers unequivocally, not only with the visual aesthetics of the day, but with the very symbols of their union. Such confidence in their work is what that they have specifically nurtured as part of their business model. Becka and Nate resolved early on to be available to their clients, allowing their brides and grooms to get to know them well. They have utilized social networking to show the wedding community a glimpse of who they are as people. “People hire us because they like our personalities as much as our photography. When you mix that, it means the dynamic of the relationship of shooting is completely different than what other photographers do. If people are comfortable around us and like us, they are more likely to treat us like guests at the wedding rather than [as] a vendor.”
The comprehensive approach the Robinsons take with their photography, their clients, and the wedding industry allows them the luxury of knowing where to look to get the shots that they, and their clients, have come to expect. Since they are in communication with all of their couples before any event, they work to understand the unique needs of each couple and make them feel special and one-of-a-kind. And since they are so free with their information, many of their clients come knowing which particular images they would like based on what they have seen on the Studio 222 Photography blog, www.studio222photography.com/blog, or Web site.
Ultimately, Becka and Nate have established Studio 222 Photography as an engaging, straightforward, and accessible photography collaboration. Their personalities bring clients to them, their manner ensures that they get to know each individual, and their deliberation with the details guarantees that the true essence of the day will be revealed in the images they create. Because for Becka and Nate, the meaningful elements of the day aren’t just the trinkets, but the culmination of every smile, gesture, veil, and sling-back heel that comprise the wedding days of their friends.
Amanda Quintenz-Fiedler received a Master of Fine Arts in Photography degree from Brooks Institute in 2009. She continues to create fine-art images, teach photography, and write regular contributions to publications such as Digital Photo Pro, Rangefinder, and Photographer’s Forum. Her photographic work can be viewed at www.amandaquintenz.com.