Rad + In Love: Southern California Wedding Photography

Today is an awesome day. Because today I get to talk about the business of my friend Jamie and her partner Michelle, Rad + In Love, Southern California wedding photographers extraordinaire. Jamie is one of the first friends that I made as a blogger, almost four years ago now. Back then I got to know her through her blog A Desert Fete. These days, she’s one of my go-to girls, the person I always stay with in San Diego, and one of my most effortlessly stylish friends (something she brings to every moment of her work). Over the years I’ve watched Jamie’s hobby for photography develop into something more, so when she took the leap into wedding photography, I knew something really, really excellent was coming.

Then there is Michelle. Michelle shot Jamie’s wedding almost four years ago, and I near lost my mind over the photography. The mix of Polaroid, film, and digital was something I’d never quite seen. And Michelle’s solo work is epic. Serious art. I’m not even going to try to explain it, because what’s the point of trying to wrap words around something that visual, but do yourself a favor and go look at her journal pages and Polaroids.

So I’m over the moon that you can now hire these two ladies to show up and shoot your wedding. These are people that will bring their enormous talent and deep sense of style to every single one of your wedding photos (all while making you super happy to hang out with them). They shoot on everything (really, everything). Forget just adding some film into their packages. Rad + In Love has a bone deep mastery of it all: Canon, Polaroid, Hasselblad, Contax, and more. Plus, they offer my favorite: no bullshit pricing. They offer one basic wedding package that has what you need for $3,200, anywhere in the San Diego/LA driving vicinity. If you want to take them farther (Northern California, for example, should be all over this stat), they just ask you to pay their travel costs. Simple, done.

And while Rad + In Love has the kind of photography that it’s silly to try to wrap words around (seriously, their work speaks for itself), I did want to share with you what the ladies told me about their artistic philosophy, and how they approach photographing your wedding. They said, “Our goal is too capture the honest beauty and emotion of your wedding day. We hope to be around when your mom gasps as she sees you in your wedding dress for the first time, or when your niece falls asleep at the reception with her head on the table. We also want to send you home with portraits that make you feel damn special, cause people tend to look their smoking best on their wedding days (and it has more to do with the clothes and hair. Love and joy is good for the complexion). But we do it without too much… rigidity.” Exactly.

But now, more than all the rest of it, I’m going to let the ladies of Rad + In Love tell you their story (and their long and lovely entanglement with APW) on their own:

“In 2008 Jamie was engaged to be married, and planning her wedding, she started a blog. Obviously. There were three really really really cool blogs out there, being written by these wise and funny women who were also planning weddings, that she wanted to be friends with, and A Practical Wedding was one of them. (We will let you guess what the other two were.) But this was back before APW was the fancy and pretty purple. When there was just a cute icon of a frazzled bride? Or maybe it was before even that? (Editors note: It was before even that.) Jamie asked her friend Michelle to photograph the wedding, and both were honored to be featured as one of APW’s first wedding graduates. (Hey, THERE is a hint, if you look at the Wedding Graduates from oldest to newest, Jamie is situated right between witty gal one and wise gal two….)”
“Fast forward three years. Michelle is considering going full force as a wedding photographer, leaving the commercial world behind. Jamie, unsatisfied with her career, is wondering why she never gave photography a go as a profession. BAM. They realized they were a dream team. Two months ago we shot the first wedding of a couple that officially found us through A Practical Wedding. All of the weddings we photograph are our favorites. (At least until the next one.) But this one was… Special. The speeches. The family. The first dances. The ceremony. Everything radiated with so much love and joy. So much thought and intent. We suspect that this is a common thread among APW couples, and we are HOOKED on that joy!”
“Also? I don’t know if we would be here without Meg and the community she has helped to build. Jamie is like a proud aunt, handing out copies of Meg’s book to any of her newly engaged friends. (Editors Note: And Meg is also like a proud aunt, featuring Jamie’s work whenever she can.)”

“We try not to fuss around too much with pricing. We find most people want about the same thing: both of us photographing their wedding for 8 hours, and all of their images to take home on their own disc. We offer this basic package for $3,200, but of course are happy to customize it to suit your needs. We are also excited to offer a discount to any APW couple who books in the month of August, and is getting married January-May of 2013. We shoot anywhere in or in-between San Diego and LA at a local rate. We are thrilled to travel beyond. Just contact us for an estimate of the travel expenses.”

So. Ladies and gents of Southern California (and Northern California, and to hell with it, everywhere else), Rad + In Love. Your stylish, down to earth, really fun, blindingly talented photographers have landed. I’m super excited for you (and I can. not. wait. to see pictures).

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  • Kat

    A desert fete was one of the first logs on my Google reader as a source of photography inspiration as a photojournalist in the Navy. I wasted countless hours on night shift at sea strolling through her archives soaking up the beautiful light in her photos.

    My wedding is still in dreamland right now (but my heart is set on summer solstice 2014 ;-)) but the thought of someday having my photos filled with that same beautiful, buttery light makes all the daydreaming that much more exciting.

    • awwwww. what a COOL job!!!!!!!!

  • Great pictures, they are really romantic:)

  • I have worked with Jamie, on a design project, and I’d recommend her as a supporter and partner for ANYTHING. She’s kind, reliable, and has one of the best aesthetics I’ve ever come across. A real eye for beauty, that one.

  • Beautiful pictures!

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    i think these pictures are so so beautiful, but even with friends who are professional photographers, i cannot understand the going rate of wedding photography, even here. i do promise that i am not trying to be snarky or devaluing, but if the shooting and editing combined was two days of work, it would still be approximately $200 a hour for pictures. i am completely behind being valued for the work one is doing, and i definitely don’t think that every profession garners the pay it “should” get, but…the prices always astound me. can someone help me out here? im genuinely trying to understand, and not trying to be negative or in any other way unsupportive. (Note: i am also not intending the “someone” that can provide insight to be the professionals mentioned in this post. they do not in any way need to defend or explain their prices, and i am definitely not asking for that.)

    • meg

      In short, the cost is not for two days work. It’s usually about a week’s work, once to do the pre-wedding work with a client, shoot the wedding, and edit it, easy. Plus, Jamie & Michelle have to pay their full living shooting, max 35 weddings a year (which is a near impossible work load for most wedding photographers). Factor that (which basically means working 50+ hour week with travel), two shooters, and a SUPER low overhead expenses, and you’d be supporting yourself and your family on $40K a year, or about $15 an hour, with no benefits or health insurance. So that’s how it works. Anyone not doing wedding photography for love would be doing something else, to say the least.

      • Keep in mind, too, that wedding photography (like most other wedding aspects) is a luxury, and not a necessity. Also, it’s not just about the hours put in, but the talent and the emotion. Jamie and Michelle are artists, and I’m sure that for them, it’s not just about showing up, shooting and editing; they entrench themselves in their couples’ weddings and tell a story in a way that no one else could.

    • Maddie

      I think Meg really covered the bases, but I also wanted to weigh in as someone who could not have afforded and would not have paid what I charge for weddings as a photographer now (so I really sympathize from both sides of the coin).

      When I was planning my wedding, I figured that I was paying for my photographers to show up and shoot my wedding and deliver me a product. So for 6 hours of service at just under $2K (which for me was a HUGE splurge) I assumed what I was paying for was a combination of experience and wedding tax.

      It just didn’t occur to me that there was any work involved outside of the day itself (like seriously. No. Idea).

      In addition to what Meg mentioned about the time it takes to fulfill a wedding, there are also a ton of overhead costs that factor into what we have to charge to make a living from photographing weddings. It’s safe to assume that 30% of what you’re being charged will go to taxes. Then there’s insurance, backup equipment, software updates, gallery hosting, travel expenses and regular ol’ business expenses which end up being probably another 30% of your expenses. So what you’re left with (if you charge $3K per wedding) is about $1000 profit for 40+ hours worth of work. If you shoot between 25-35 weddings (which is what most of us consider full time income) then you are looking a salary of $25-35K per year (take home). Which is nothing to sneeze at, but I think doesn’t quite match up with the Scrooge McDuck swimming in coins image that I previously had in my head for wedding photographers.

      There is of course always the argument that wedding photographers could supplement their income by doing other kinds of photography in the off-season (which most of us do), but frequently if you want to get the kind of talent you’d get from Jamie and Michelle (who invest a ton of time and money into honing their craft) then there isn’t much time left to do other kinds of photography without cutting into the service they provide and the artistry that they’ve crafted.

      Sorry that’s so long-winded! I always appreciate when people ask intelligent questions about why some parts of the wedding industry cost what they do, because as someone who had NO idea before (like seriously. I didn’t even realize that you’re supposed to FEED your photographers, let alone know their worth) I know I’m super thankful for what I know now.

      • Maddie

        Oh! And as someone who also has a business partnership, it’s worth mentioning that you then take that profit I mentioned and cut it in half. When Monica and I shot weddings together last year (as a startup partnership business) we charged between $1200 and $2500 per wedding (with most of them falling into the $1500 range) and our profit *for the year* was about $7K after taxes (closer to $15K if you don’t count our end-of-year gear purchases), so half of that per person. We both had full time jobs to supplement income, because we could never have lived on photography income alone.


          Thank you so much for these insightful replies- i really appreciate it. i was incredibly worried about posting that question, because i honestly do not think anyone should have to justify prices for what they do when we have so many large systematic problems across the world about earning and etc, but i was hoping this was a safe space where i could just GET IT, and now i totally do.

          thank you so much for the hard numbers and wowza, it makes me appreciate the art and just sincerely hard work (and taxes!) that go into building a career, and i do understand just how important it is (which is why i asked) . thank you again for understanding my intention in just trying to understand and pick which things are most important to us and will end up becoming a substantial part of our budget for the wedding. i knew i had some ignorance going on somewhere after i learned about what goes into dressmaking, so took the courage that the happy hour sangria gave me to submit this question.

          • We’re glad you did! It’s a question that comes up a lot, so I’m sure there are plenty of other who are glad you asked!

    • thanks all!!!!!!!! :)

  • that’s good !

  • Clippingimages Outsourcing

    So nice and graceful…..the beautiful natural view is captured very nicely………..a brilliant combination like all in all………