Vendor Spotlight — BTW Photography

Michigan Photographer

We had the tremen­dous oppor­tu­ni­ty to speak one on one with a Metro Detroit pho­tog­ra­ph­er, Bri­an Weitzel, own­er of BTW Pho­tog­ra­phy. For more infor­ma­tion about BTW Pho­tog­ra­phy and its ser­vices, please take a look at our Q&A ses­sion we had with Bri­an below.

1.)  Tell me about how you got into photography and how BTW Photography started?

I have always been inter­est­ed in pho­tog­ra­phy.  I have so many sto­ries of how pho­tog­ra­phy played a role in my youth: My ear­li­est mem­o­ries were of me sit­ting in the cor­ner of my aun­t’s house for hours at a time, look­ing through her stacks of Nation­al Geo­graph­ic.  I nev­er read any­thing, but would stare at the pic­tures and imag­ine the dif­fer­ent worlds the pho­tos came from.  I was very for­tu­nate in my youth in that I spent a year abroad (Poland, 1993.) Rem­nants of com­mu­nism still exist­ed; there was only enough pow­er on the grid to keep the lights on until 3:30 p.m! With no pow­er and lit­tle tech­nol­o­gy, my par­ents gave me my dad’s old cam­era to run around and take pic­tures with to pass the time.  Rarely was there ever film in the cam­era, but when we did trav­el, that was my sou­venir — a roll of film.  One of my most prized pos­ses­sions is a let­ter I wrote my grand­ma when I was abroad.  I told her that “my pho­tos could be post­cards” and that “I was going to be a pho­tog­ra­ph­er one day.”  She saved it and gave it to me after I passed. 

     Years lat­er, I asked my par­ents to sub­scribe me to two pho­to mag­a­zines: Pop­u­lar Pho­tog­ra­phy and Amer­i­can Pho­to.  God bless them because they did and I did­n’t even own a cam­era at the time!  (My dad’s cam­era broke and was nev­er replaced.)  I think this was prob­a­bly one of the most impor­tant junc­tions with my rela­tion­ship with pho­tog­ra­phy because they could have eas­i­ly brushed me off and my thirst for dream­ing about being a pho­tog­ra­ph­er could have died.  After three years of read­ing about cam­eras, tech­nique, etc. in these mag­a­zines, I took a pho­tog­ra­phy class in high school.  Spend­ing time shoot­ing film and devel­op­ing it had a big impact on the way that I shoot today: I shoot for per­fec­tion and authen­tic­i­ty in-cam­era and try to min­i­mize the post-pro­duc­tion editing.

   When I was in col­lege, a friend asked me to shoot her wed­ding.  I did­n’t want to, but she assured me her fam­i­ly was fun and easy to work with.  I agreed.  That night, I knew my dream of being a trav­el pho­tog­ra­ph­er was dead and I was going to be a wed­ding pho­tog­ra­ph­er.  I launched the busi­ness after grad­u­at­ing and the rest is history.”

2.)  What are some of your favorite pho­tog­ra­phy shoots to shoot?

My favorite things to shoot are the things you only get one chance at and are high­ly per­son­al, emo­tion­al, and a mile­stone in life: pro­pos­als, wed­dings, and births.” 

3.)  Talk to me about some of your most memorable shoots you have photographed?

Oh good­ness, how much time do you have?  Hon­est­ly, I don’t know if I even want to.  The rea­son being is, the most mem­o­rable shoots are also the most emo­tion­al.  I nor­mal­ly get choked up when I shoot pro­pos­als, births, and even wed­dings.  Shoot­ing these events allows me to silent­ly par­tic­i­pate and have a height­ened aware­ness and con­nec­tion with the people.” 

4.)  What is your favorite thing about photographing proposals, engagements, and wedding shoots?

The peo­ple.  Plain and sim­ple.  The best part of this job are the peo­ple you meet and the rela­tion­ships you form. Many of my clients have become close friends well beyond their wed­ding day.”

5.)  What makes you stand out versus another photographer?

One of the first things I try teach­ing pho­tog­ra­phers that I men­tor is to leave your ego out­side.  You are a hum­ble ser­vant on some­one’s wed­ding day.  It is not about you.  It nev­er should be.  I think tak­ing that approach and putting the cou­ple first in all aspects of the day and even busi­ness mod­el makes a huge dif­fer­ence.  The cou­ples think they are book­ing me as a pho­tog­ra­ph­er and quick­ly real­ize that they are get­ting so much more than just pho­tos.  They are get­ting expe­ri­ence, exper­tise, a con­sul­tant, and a trust­ed con­fi­dant on their wed­ding day.  They ask for pho­tos, but they get a whole experience.”

6.)  What would you describe your photographic style as?

I am influ­enced by three gen­res in my pho­tog­ra­phy: clas­sic por­trai­ture, fash­ion-inspired light­ing, and pho­to­jour­nal­ism.  I use these three tech­niques to cre­ate images that are ele­gant, emo­tion­al, and time­less.  A good pho­to will embrace all three traits.” 

7.)  What do you believe the most important component a couple must consider when choosing their photographer?   

When all of the plan­ning is done, your wed­ding day is com­plete, and you start your life as a mar­ried cou­ple, the only thing you will have to remem­ber your day are you wed­ding pho­tos.  To me, pho­tos are some of the most impor­tant things in life, espe­cial­ly on your wed­ding day.  You want to find a pho­tog­ra­ph­er who you con­nect with as a per­son.  They are going to be with you more than any­one else on your wed­ding day.  You also want to view your pho­tographs as an invest­ment.  These will become your first heir­loom as a cou­ple or maybe, a fam­i­ly.  They will only grow in impor­tance and beau­ty over time.”   

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