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Your Wedding Photographer Shouldn’t Be “Taking” Photos

They're giving you YOUR memories

We’re halfway through the first cohort of The L.O.V.E. Club, the wedding vendor masterclass we founded to hook you all up with the next generation of amazingly talented, inclusive, and supportive wedding vendors, and it’s been truly incredible to get to know this crew. Like with children, we have no favorites, so I’ll just say that reading what Emma Willich of Of Fate and Chaos wrote below about her approach to wedding photography is the only time I have been moved to tears thus far. There is still a well-founded fear that a wedding photographer might make you feel awkward or uncomfortable for the sake of getting good shots, or basically just put “their photos” above your experience having an awesome time at your wedding, but Emma is the kind of photographer whose giant heart and ego-free philosophy will instantly put all those fears to rest.

And as far as her work? Well, as Meg has said, “Her work is no-shit good.”

Behold:A wedding couple smile during their reception. A bride and an older woman embrace.A wedding coupe laugh and smile in the forest.A man reads a note presumably from his fiance.

WHO: Emma Willich of Of Fate & Chaos

WHERE: Based in Richmond, Virginia with no travel fees for all of Virginia and North Carolina for APW readers.

HOW MUCH: For APW readers, Emma is offering $200 off all her packages, which start at $3,600 for smaller weddings (under 40 guests), and most clients spend between $4,400 and $5,000 for 8 hours with 2 photographers (with or without an engagement session.)

Emma is also beginning to offer epic outdoorsy elopements starting at $1,400, and delightfully artsy Super 8 video coverage, starting at $3,400, that looks like this.

(Not quite in your budget even with $200 off and free travel? Emma has this to say about that, tl;dr, it never hurts to reach out.)

A wedding couple laughs and holds hands under a purple light.

WHY YOU WANT TO WORK WITH OF FATE & CHAOS: The shortest version? Emma gets it.

See, here on the APW staff we have experienced a litany of loss. We are majorly into wedding photos not just because your love for your partner and your hard work putting the day together should be captured and celebrated, but because the rest of those people in those photos? They won’t be around forever. (Have you read what Meg said last week about the role of wedding photos when you’ve lost family members?) And not just in the morbid sense—families and relationships are never static, there is always drifting apart and growing closer together, and breaking up, and moving away. So it’s a priceless thing to have a magical visual time capsule of exactly how they were in one monumental moment in time. As Emma says, “These are not my photos—they’re your memories.”

Also? She’s just one of those epically talented photographers who can’t take a bad picture. She’ll make you look good, all your aesthetic details look good, your partner look good, your grandma look good, your dance floor shenanigans look good. You get it, just go see what I mean at this summer camp-goes glam wedding.A black and white image of a bride holding her bouquet.A wedding couple hold hands and stand on a dock.The long version, in more of Emma’s words:

I was introduced to APW through another photographer and it was an “Ahhhhhhhh” moment in movies where the heroine opens the door to discover the treasure trove or the heavens part or something. I feel like APW is a place where people can come to be exactly who they are and feel accepted, cared for, and loved. Like me. I’m not the coolest of cools. I am a mama of three amazing, beautiful little humans and have devoted so much of myself to be their mama. Sometimes, I worry that all the cool and traditionally “fun” things about me are gone. But my family has taught me to open my heart and give love in a way I never would have been able to do without them. As a child and a young adult I was incredibly proud of the walls that I built for myself so that people couldn’t cause me to feel anything that I didn’t want to feel. I loved how unemotional I could be. I felt safe that way, behind my wall where no one could touch me. But then I met this boy, who is now my husband and I no longer wanted to hide. Afterwards, having my children broke down any remains of the walls remaining in my heart. With my family I now experience so many beautiful moments that I want to remember forever, and hope that when my time comes, I get to relive all those amazing moments again in my final breaths. That love of family and desire to hold on to moments is the very heart of my business. I feel super strongly that my work is not about me. That the photos I capture are not my photos “to take”, but to give. The memories that I am entrusted to immortalize deserve honesty and humility—no room for ego.

It’s such a personal thing, who you choose to spend your wedding day with, who you choose to entrust the recording of your memories to. As much as I could talk about all the professional things that I do to run my business and the dedication I have to continue to improve myself to be the best photographer for my couples in order to justify my pricing… that’s not why people choose to work with me. They might connect with me because we like The Office and Harry Potter, but that’s not why they ask me to be there on their wedding day. They might ask me to be their photographer partly because I take nice photos, but it’s mostly because they can sense that I see the bigger picture—what the day really means. That I care about them as people, as a couple, as a family. That I’m going to hold their grandparents’ hands and lead them to their spot standing next to their grandchild in the big family portrait. That I’ll create for them images of all their love and their precious memories so they can hold them tight and remember forever. I feel so strongly that this “job” of mine is more like a calling—a calling to serve my couples in a way that is about the beauty and truth of their moments throughout the day, a peek into the greater story of their whole lives. And that’s what I do my best to give to my clients:

A bride walks down the aisle, while escorted by an older gentleman.Persons happily at a wedding reception.A bride stands at a window as another woman inserts her wedding veil.STREET CRED:

Emma has a gift that few photographers have. She instinctively captures the genuine emotion and essence of the moment. Her photographs reflect the couple rather than the cookie cutter look that we saw with so many other wedding photographers. She truly is a natural. Her work is somehow simultaneously grounded yet also ethereal and romantic. We leave you with these three words. Book. Her. Now. —Ingrid & Hamilton

A woman runs her fingers through her hair while standing among a field of flowers. A woman stands on a windy day while wearing a blanket. Seriously guys… Don’t even click to another profile because guess what???? YOU FOUND YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER! I stumbled upon Of Fate & Chaos during one of many nights of unrest on the wedding planning journey. I clicked on her website and instantaneously fell in love. Her photography style is so unique and something that I have honestly never seen. She captures your HAPPINESS, JOY, and LOVE. Emma herself is a gem of a being and if I could walk around with a recording of her laugh on loop I would. She is a person who LOVES her job and that is apparent in the way she treats her couples and the people around her. I am so lucky that every star aligned just right to find her. —Karina

Two women in wedding dresses stand happily.Working with Emma was a DREAM. Emma is someone who has the gift of instantly making you feel comfortable, accepted, and special. She goes out of her way to show kindness and thoughtfulness, and she is a skilled communicator who demonstrates clarity, humor, and charm. She was truly a breath of fresh air for us during wedding planning. As soon as we spoke to her, we knew we had found our person, and she totally exceeded her expectations. On top of all that human goodness, she is an extraordinary photographer who captured all of our special moments with ease, joy, uniqueness, and beauty. We are thrilled with our photos and will cherish them forever! —Lacy & Eric

A wedding couple embrace.

If you’re looking for a big-hearted, wildly-talented photographer who really truly gets how important your wedding it to you, Emma Of Fate & Chaos, is your woman. Go see more of her incredible images, stalk her on IG, but don’t wait to reach out for 2020, because when we stocked The L.O.V.E. Club with vendors who were about to take off in a big way, Emma was exactly the caliber of photographer we we had in mind.

For more info on working with Of Fate and Chaos—click here to see pricing and receive a personalized quote.

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