Many photographers have their own signature style — that one thing they’re known for that differentiates them from the others.
For Maryland photographer Breanna Shaw of Photography By Brea, it’s all about capturing the moments as they happen. Of course, Brea (“like the cheese,” she says) can take lovely portraits and posed photographs. But she shines brightest in her ability to snap all the special details that make up a wedding day. Even something as simple as climbing stairs becomes a moment to remember in Brea’s capable lens.
Brea focuses on the candid moments that show the connection between the couple, the families, and the friends, all celebrating the same special event. That could include a quiet moment between the bride and groom, wet eyes from the best man, or the impromptu shenanigans on the dance floor. Rather than asking a group to pose or look at the camera, she’ll snap the group as-is — candid and real. Her photos are vibrant, exciting, and full of life!
Brea photographs weddings all over Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Washington DC, New York, and more. She’s worked at stunning venues like the Baltimore Museum of Industry, Mt. Washington Mill Dye House, George Peabody Library, and The Belvedere — one of her favorites.
Brea’s work has been recognized by WeddingWire, World’s Best Wedding Photos, and Fearless Photographers — like this one-of-a-kind shot.
Although she loves weddings, Brea also does engagement shoots, family photography, and boudoir sessions! She has tons of photos on her website, which we encourage you to check out. (No boudoir photos online though — too steamy for public consumption.)
We asked Brea some questions about how she got her start and what she loves about shooting weddings. Read on to learn a little more about this mega-talented Maryland photographer.
Responses have been lightly edited for clarity.
How did you get started in the wedding industry?
Mostly by accident! I started off as a family photographer in 2009. Most of my friends were older than me and once they started having kids, I became the de facto photographer for the friend group. Then it snowballed to taking photos for friends of friends, then strangers. By 2010, I had a full-fledged business!
It was another two years before I photographed my first wedding. I turned the couple down initially, telling them they were better off choosing a professional WEDDING photographer, not a professional family photographer. They had their heart set on me anyway, and after doing a ton of preparation and research (shadowing a good friend and wedding photographer on a few weddings), I photographed my first solo wedding in June 2012 and LOVED IT. In 2012, I ended up photographing four other weddings. I had 27 in 2013, and 35 or more every year since.
This accidental business is the best thing that's ever happened to me.
What’s your favorite venue and why?
Honestly, I LOVE The Belvedere. It's gorgeous, it's classic, it requires lighting skills that play to my strengths and my interests technically. But also our couples that get married there are always the kind of people who want to live in the present moment and trust us to capture it all.
But truthfully, it's hard to pick a favorite. Baltimore has tons of amazing venues inside city limits, and we have gorgeous wineries, waterfront venues, and farms on the outskirts. We've basically got it all.
What’s your favorite thing about weddings?
The fact that it's the one time in your life everyone you love is in the same room. Weddings aren't about chair covers and centerpieces. They're about people. It gives me an opportunity to show you not only how loved you are by your future spouse, but by everyone in your life. That's pretty damn magical.
What’s the wildest thing a couple has ever asked for?
This is a tough question because I LOVE and encourage all things weird. We've done engagement sessions at Dave and Buster's, had mid-wedding day pit stops at bars and arcades, done pictures inside of a clock tower...but that's the stuff that makes this job fun!
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen a member of the wedding party do?
[Redacted] I'm going to choose not to answer this one to protect the not-so-innocent ;)
What’s the best “little kid moment” you’ve seen at a wedding?
SO MANY! Kids are so weird. It's the best! And we have photos to back all of these up: playing with a toy truck on uncle's face, stealing microphone from dad during speeches, falling asleep in the middle of a crowded dance floor, so many!
What’s one thing you wish people knew about working at weddings?
It's a very physical job. A lot of people think that being a wedding photographer is just clicking a button casually all day. Our gear is heavy, we're on our feet all day, and when you are a photojournalist with your camera glued to your face for 8-12 hours, it's incredibly difficult on your body. It is SO much fun and I wouldn't trade it for the world, but it's nowhere near as easy as you'd think physically.
The two days after I photographed that first wedding in 2012, I felt like I was hungover even though I hadn't had a drop of alcohol. Those of us in the wedding industry refer to it as "wedding hangover" and it is very, very real.
What’s the best speech you’ve ever heard?
There are so many good ones. My favorites are a mix of funny and heartfelt and usually move me to tears.
What’s your favorite wedding movie and why?
Wedding Crashers. Crab cakes and football! That's what Maryland DOES!
What’s your best marriage advice?
Always respect your marriage and your partner. If you maintain that mutual respect you can make it through anything.
Monday, May 4, 2020