*This is a paid post from an APW Sponsor*
A few times a year, we have the opportunity to spotlight some of the kickass wedding professionals in our vendor directory. (By the way, have you checked out our vendor directory yet? There are tons of sane, local wedding pros just waiting to work with you, at all different price points.) Today I’m really excited to give you a behind-the-scenes interview with Alexis from City Love Photography in New York. Alexis’s work is artistic in a raw, unpretentious way you don’t often see from wedding photographers, especially in the New York metro area, so I was excited to get to talk to her about what informs that.
In a rare twist, it turns out that I knew Alexis in a past life, when she played the Miss Scarlet opposite my Mrs. White in a staged production of the film Clue while we were in college. So I can speak personally to the fact that she is a delight to have around in a high-stress environment. (Theater and weddings? Might as well be the same thing.) But it’s what goes on inside City Love Photography that makes me really excited to get to sit down and introduce you to Alexis yourselves:
APW: First, give me a little of your background. You have an MFA, I know that much. Did you study photography?
Alexis: After graduating from college with a dual degree in History and Film Studies, I moved from New York to Chicago where I studied improv at Second City and the iO Theater. In 2010, I started my interdisciplinary MFA in Writing program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Our department was a whimsical bunch of misfit toys, teachers and students both, that ranged from people trying to write the Great American Novel to those attempting to scrawl “books” on the walls with period blood (perhaps a slightly hyperbolic example…but not far off). It was a wacky time, but I grew a greater appreciation for the individual ways in which creative people solve problems, attempted to hone my own edge in that matter, and came out feeling a little puzzled but excited for the next task. That turned out to be photography, which I had been doing as a hobby throughout this process. Food photography was my first foray, but I quickly saw that being part of a twelve person discussion about how to meaningfully tip an asparagus for marketing purposes was not really my forte. I fell in with a great group of Chicago photographers, shooting as much as possible, before landing back in New York City, where I am today.
APW: How does all of that inform the way you approach a wedding?
Alexis: A professor at my MFA program had some wonderful wisdom: You exist at the intersection of your passions. She helped me to feel more secure in my own skin as a woman who seeks to inhabit the spirit of academia and interdisciplinary arts, including the study of film, writing, installation, theatre, improv, and, of course, photography. I definitely approach each wedding from two directions: as an organizing industry professional who understands the mechanisms of a wedding event, and as a fluid artist who embraces the chaos and surprise of the day.
My philosophy is to plan up front, and then move with the beauty of the day as it unfolds. Part of my prep prior to the big day also includes a more fine art studio approach, where I will create moodboards or other visual studies to get myself in the best mindset for creating on the day-of.
APW: So you were in Chicago, but now you’re in New York again?
Alexis: I am really excited to be serving couples in the NYC metro area. My husband and I recently made a huge life change by moving from Chicago (the city in which we met) to NYC (the city I am from). It was a big deal for us as a couple, and for me in my business, and I am learning my old stomping grounds from an entirely new angle as I continue to grow my business here. I chose my business name because I love the energy and depth of cities, and believe that great couple love is a lot like loving a complex, vivacious, ever-evolving place. I have a lot of love myself for the places around NYC and the Jersey Shore, and I am really thrilled and honored to be working with couples for whom these places also hold great significance.
APW: How did you end up at APW? I was pleasantly surprised when I saw your name in our directory!
Alexis: There is no standard one-size-fits-all wedding in the APW world, and I love that. The throughline of the APW community is couples who are comfortable and excited to do their own thing, forge their own meaning, and create a unique wedding experience that celebrates their particular love. That’s the type of people and event where I want to be, as a person and as a professional, and where I think my particular style of photography is especially fitting.
I feel like I can often get a little dry and nerdy when discussing my work, but I think that’s because my sweet spot is the place where preparation meets fun. I’m a perfect fit for clients who like to do a lot of planning up top, and then rock and roll and embrace the chaos as their day unfolds.
APW: Let’s talk brass tacks. Pricing?
Alexis: Collections range from $3050 and up, with a basic package including coverage by myself, an assistant, and digital files with personal printing rights. Other services and products include engagement sessions, albums, photo books, and prints.
APW: If you could sum up your artistic philosophy, what would you say?
Alexis: Within and between photographic images, I see syntax—through the color, the composition, the content. One of the most impressionable aspects to me of my film studies background is montage: the sequencing of elements through which meanings emerge. This is not an articulate, given thing. It is more of a striving pulse that drives me, and the direction is always toward matters of the heart and intimacy. What better subject could there be? What better occupation is there than seeking to create an impression of a thing that is simultaneously ephemeral and lasting? And what better way to create art than specifically for someone—two someones—for whom this expression may mean a better coming-into-knowledge of their own love, their own commitment, their own beauty and togetherness and epic humanity?
I’m still learning how to do all of this. Each story is different, and each opportunity to exert these languages, visual and narrative, creates a unique portal. I just hope to become better and better at it, to be able to earn and serve the trust that wonderful couples put in me to craft these narratives of their day, their loves, their lives.