A.J. Photography, LLC Saint Louis, Missouri

Posted by Andrew Joseph Photography on June 28th 2018

Photographer Contact Information

Saint Louis, Missouri Photographer

http://andrewjosephportraits.com andyk@ajphotographystl.com 636-284-6004

See This Photographer's Website

My interest in photography goes back to my childhood. My first memories of photography date back to using a Polaroid camera to capture photos of friends in elementary school. In my early 20’s, I took a job as a live in nanny in Washington, D.C and Nantucket, MA. The massive history landscape in Washington and unbelievable scenery in Nantucket drove me to purchase my first “real” camera, a 35 mm Canon Rebel with a telephoto lens. This is the time period in which my love for photography really took off. I started reading books and trying out new techniques. As my skill set grew, friends and family would comment that I should do photography professionally. However, at the time I had my mind set on going to the Police Academy in St. Louis upon completion of my nannying duties.

    To make some extra money to help support me through the Police Academy, I started shooting portraits. Unfortunately, that was short lived due to my police career demanding so much of my time. Although I enjoyed anything photography related, by dream was to become a wedding photographer. My biggest fascination with wedding photographers was that they had one shot to get it right. That type of challenge was very appealing to my personality type. However, I was not at a place in my life to take on such a venture. 

    After 10 years of working as police officer, I decided I was ready to really seek my dream job and start my own photography business. I launched A.J. Photography in September 2016. I started with family portraits, but quickly realized this was not my niche. I took a big leap and joined The Knot in November 2016. I was finally taking the steps to my ideal career. I set a goal for how many weddings I wanted to book in the first 6 months and was ecstatic to book more than triple my goal. I now focus my business on weddings. I love the fast paced day, challenges, and the chance to see two people start a new life together. At the end of the day, I always feel a sense of accomplishment that my police career could never give me. Photographing weddings is my passion and I love every minute of it.  

    I draw my inspiration from two photographers that I have really looked up to and admired: Sal Cincotta and Michael Anthony. I love how they combine landscapes\architecture into their wedding portraiture. Like them, I got my start as a landscape photographer. Mixing landscape and wedding photography gives me the opportunity to express my vision in multiple ways, but in one image. 

    My favorite part of the wedding day to shoot is the bride and groom portraits. That is the part of the day where I feel I can be the most creative. I love to get the bride and groom interacting with each other and capturing them in the moment of such a momentous day. 

    One of my favorite locations to photograph weddings is large churches or cathedrals with intricate architecture. I love being able to creatively incorporate the background, especially when a beautiful church balcony is involved. Wineries are another favorite wedding photography venue. The vast outdoor landscape offers a totally different take and opportunity for photos and creativity. 

    I have a few local venues that I enjoy photographing at. My absolute favorite is the St. Louis Zoo. It has such a fun and welcoming atmosphere, especially the Living World and Rivers Edge venues. My favorite modern/loft location is Neo. The views from the walls lined in windows within the venue of downtown and the opportunity to shoot on the roof offer some amazing photography opportunities. 

    One of my favorite and unique wedding I shot was a multicultural wedding in March. The bride was Christian and the groom was from Pakistan and was Muslim. They were able to weave both customs and cultures into the wedding. The bride had henna tattoos on her hands but wore a traditional wedding dress. The groom also wore white and the Muslim traditions were also practiced. The music was phenomenal and I was in such awe seeing how the entire family, young and old, partook in the festivities which included not only dancing, but also singing and shouting to the music. The use of color throughout the wedding and reception in the decorations and attire of the wedding party and guests provided for unbelievable photos. It is truly a wedding that left a lasting impression on me. 

    I would describe my style of photography as big and bold. I love to use studio strobes, architecture and landscapes in my images. I also use a photo journalistic style in my work. I love to capture those unscripted and unposed moments in a wedding that are one of kind.   

    The most important advice I would give a bride who is looking for a wedding photographer is to make sure you research each photographer wisely and not focus solely on price. The old saying “you get what you pay for” is so true with photographers. Since the cost of digital cameras has come down significantly, there are a lot of people who consider doing photography as a profession and most think shooting a wedding is easy. Beyond an affordable price, the bride should ensure she looks at the photographers full portfolio. Some photographers will even give access to full wedding session to allow the bride to really get a feel for what to expect. Make sure to ask a lot of questions. I love when brides shower me with questions because that is my moment to elaborate on what I can offer. Another thing to consider is the amount of time the bride will spend with the photographer. The photographer is the only vendor that the bride will spend all day with, so ensuring compatible personalities is important. It is so important to hire an experienced wedding photographer. The photographer has one chance to capture all those unique memories on the brides big day.

    I have a few tips for for brides to get the most out of their photos on their wedding day. The first and most important tip is to make sure they plan for enough time for photos. Brides often under estimate just how much time is needed to capture the photos they are looking for. There are so many things to think of and plan for the wedding day, so it is understandable the quantity of time for photos is often overlooked. Although not always possible, the best case for the least rushed wedding party and bride/groom portraits is if there is a few hours between the wedding and reception. If there is little time (especially less than an hour) between the wedding and reception, I would suggest a first look for the bride and groom before the ceremony. This makes for great and fun photos, and using time before the wedding frees up time between events for other photo opportunities (e.g. group family shots at the wedding venue). If a bride and groom want to keep tradition and not see each other before the wedding, another way to free up time is for the photographer to capture the groom/groomsmen pictures and bride/bridesmaid pictures. The other tip I give is to spend time researching photos and poses that interest them. They should submit their ideas to the photographer and have a discussion with the photographer about the photos and the feasibility of capturing them based on their wedding details.

    It was not until I really got into photography that I realized the immense number of gadget out there as tools for photographers. Making the switch to Profoto flashes was the biggest game changer for my photography. I cannot begin to explain what Profoto has done for me and the staff has been amazing to work with. There was a sizable difference in the quality of my photos. I now and will forever only use Profoto. I carry a B1X, B2, and A1 in my bag to every wedding. Thank you Profoto for all you have done for me and my business. I attended Shutterfest for the first time this year. The networking alone was priceless. Although I was there to learn, the atmosphere and opportunities to shoot with fellow photographers made the event more like a friendly gathering. Shutterfest also gives you a real sense of community. I would strongly recommend other photographers who have not attended give it a try. The learning opportunities and networking are worth the time.

    The biggest reason for my success in photography is my wife, Theresa. Theresa has supported my decision to start a photography business from day one. She has been there to motivate me when I have doubts and is always the first one to congratulate me on my successes. There are numerous monetary investments involved in starting a photography business and she has understood the necessity for even the big expenditures. Without Theresa, I do not think I would pushed through the rough times and may have given up on my dream job. I know she is my biggest fan and she loves to see the images I take. Her criticism can be hard, but I always know that she will be honest. I am so thankful for her support and dedication to helping me succeed in this new venture. 

    I have some big plans for my photography in the near future. This year my focus is shooting for publication and image competitions. My work made the front cover of Elan Vital Magazine and there were images featured throughout the magazine. I also have work due to be published in Elegant Magazine, The RISE Magazine, zola.com, and Big Love Small Weddings. I would love to start shooting destination weddings and will make that my new focus once I get through this wedding season. I have set up several shoots in Ireland this summer and will be hopefully using those images to gain destination weddings. 

    I feel that the biggest challenge facing wedding photographers today is the large saturation of photographers in the market. I think another challenge is all the websites now that produce “cheap” prints. They are able to sell mass quantities of prints that we (photographers) will not be able to compete with.  You also see a lot of photographers who are giving away the files instead of selling prints making it even harder. 

    In my time off, I love to spend time with my family. I have three beautiful daughters (Olivia, who is 6 years old and twin 9 month old girls: Kathryn and Mary Jayne). I also love to fly drones, cook, play and watch ice hockey, travel, and watch war movies. 


Photographer Contact Information

Saint Louis, Missouri Photographer

http://andrewjosephportraits.com andyk@ajphotographystl.com 636-284-6004

See This Photographer's Website

Photographer Bio

I have a Bachlor of Science Degree from the University of Missouri-St. Louis in Criminal Justice. I got my start in photography in 2003 while living on the East Coast of the United States. I moved back to St. Louis where I began photographing portraits and weddings. I have been featured in several publications and blogs. I am married to my lovely wife Theresa and have three daughters. Oliva, Kathryn, and Mary Jayne. 

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