It’s true. Charleston is home to some of the most talented wedding vendors in the world. Photographers, especially. One of our newest photographer friends is Rachel Ashcraft of Rachel Red Photography. Rachel lives in Charleston and loves to shoot Charleston weddings but has also photographed weddings throughout the United States and the world! We sat down with her this week to get to know her a little better!
How did you get your start in the photography industry?
I was in school for theater and needed a college job, so I applied to be a secretary at a portrait studio. The owner noticed that I had an eye for art and taught me how to shoot film. I quickly became the lead photographer there and then slowly transitioned into weddings. Since then I’ve taken photography courses and workshops, but the majority of what I know comes from on-the-job training. I’ve studied with some of the best photographers in the world and feel very fortunate to be in my 14th season as a wedding photographer.
Prior to moving to Charleston, you were based in Boston. What brought you to South Carolina?
Sunshine!! I had a chance to move anywhere I wanted in the United States and I specifically picked Charleston for the easy way of life and weather. It helped that Charleston is a major wedding city, but I probably would have come down here anyway. Every once in a while I check the weather in Boston and smile knowing that it’s around 40 degrees warmer in the winter here. I’m originally from the south, so Southern hospitality means a lot to me and it’s been wonderful to get back to that.
What are your favorite aspects of a wedding to photograph?
I love working in high energy (even stressful) environments and get really excited to be able to be a sense of calm on someone’s wedding day. I also really love beautiful wedding details like flowers and shoes. Shoes! I mean, who doesn’t love a good pair of Jimmy Choo’s? There are so many others, but I’ll give one more – emotional moments are so wonderful to photograph on a wedding day. When I go into a situation, most of the extended family and guest list doesn’t know me well. For them to trust me with their tears and laughter is a big deal. It’s such an honor to be included in those moments and to share them with the bride and groom afterward. Heirlooms are a big part of what I believe in as a photographer. It’s my goal to give images that will last beyond a lifetime, for generations to come.
You’ve photographed all over the world. Where is your favorite place?
Charleston! Or maybe Greece. It’s a tie. 🙂
What is your dream wedding destination to photograph?
I’d love to photograph a Tuscan or French winery or lavender field wedding. Just thinking about that makes me excited for the possibilities. Honestly, though? I love Charleston weddings so much and would be happy to photograph weddings here for the rest of my career.
Describe your photography style.
My work is light, bright and airy with a sophisticated sensibility. I shoot digital and film and match my digital work to the film, making it timeless and romantic. I tend to stay away from extreme fads in processing and posing. When I am photographing a bride and groom, I try to make that time more of a conversation rather than something forced. The way you hold hands or look at each other naturally is going to be more beautiful than anything a person can tell you to do.
Describe your ideal bride and groom.
I’ve done quite a bit of research on my ideal client with a marketing professional. We came up with some very specific details like how old they are, where they shop, what food they eat, etc. But really, my ideal bride and groom is a couple that trusts me explicitly. I do my best work when they trust me to take them to beautiful light-filled locations instead of having one specific thing in mind going into it.
Do you have any advice for couples looking for a wedding photographer?
Besides a great event designer/coordinator like Ali and her team, the number one thing you should not skimp on is a photographer. I’m a little biased saying that, of course, but Martha Stewart Weddings, Town and Country, and BRIDES all agree. Photography is the one thing you take with you after the wedding day is over. Great ones have the ability to make a wedding look and feel even more beautiful than it was. They are the one thing you will pass down to your children and your children’s children. Don’t skimp. Get the absolute best one you can afford. And then trust them to do an amazing job.
Who inspires and influences you and your work?
I follow the top 10 wedding photographers in the world right now and definitely use their work as inspiration for every wedding. I also look at interior designers, stylists and alternative photographers. My first major photographer crush was on Jose Villa because he was the first film photographer I had seen in a very long time that was producing something light and airy. He is still doing phenomenal work.