From time to time, Real Detroit Bride's Guide, highlights some of the best wedding vendors in our area. This time, he sits down with Jason Samkowiak, owner of JS Photography for an in-depth look at his company, the art of Wedding Photography, and how the Michigan economy has affected the industry.
From time to time, Tom Santilli, the Detroit Wedding Examiner, highlights some of the best wedding vendors in our area. This time, he sits down with Jason Samkowiak, owner of JS Photography for an in-depth look at his company, the art of Wedding Photography, and how the Michigan economy has affected the industry.
About JS Photography: We have been documenting weddings for over 10 years. Our style has become a perfect blend of 4 main styles of wedding photography combining journalistic, detail, magazine, and traditional styles into each wedding. We serve all of Michigan and have traveled everywhere from Hawaii to Cancun, Texas to Florida, and Missouri to Montreal. Wedding photography is what we do and we love it!
Bride's Guide: Hi Jason! Start off by describing a bit about yourself, and how you got involved in Photography.
JASON SAMKOWIAK: I started JS Photography by accident in 1998. I was an engineer working for GM at the time and photography was just a hobby. My best friend was getting married and had a professional studio hired to shoot his wedding. At that time the photojournalistic approach to photography was not understood by a lot of photographers. My friend asked me to “take a camera along, and throw in a little spice here and there to add some artistic flavor”. Not wanting to let him down I went to a camera shop and bought a ton of equipment to make sure I could do what he was looking for. My intentions were to return the equipment right after the wedding and get my money back. After his wedding was over I gave him his pictures and my phone started ringing off the hook. Everyone that looked at the pictures I took from that wedding knew someone that wanted that kind of photography done. To make a long story short, I never returned any of the equipment, quit my job at GM and started JS Photography full-time. Now 10 years later the company has grown to 3 main photographers, a bunch of part-time photographers and a signature style that is highly sought after.
B: How would you explain what that signature style is?
JS: There is one simple rule: “Shoot it like nobody else would!” We strive very hard to capture the day in a truly unique style and with artistic flare that creates emotion and powerful images. We also capture the stuff that must be captured on a wedding day, but every chance we get, an emphasis is made on creativity.
B: What would you say is the most rewarding part of your job?
JS: As a wedding photographer we get paid to show the bride and groom how we see their wedding and how they will remember it for the rest of their life. Everyone at a wedding is dressed to the max, in a great mood, and ready to have a great time. The atmosphere of the day is filled with love, emotion, and a happiness that is contagious. We get to capture all of that and stuff it into a book full of memories that will bring a lifetime of happiness. It just doesn’t get any better than that.
B: How has wedding photography changed over the past several years?
JS: Wedding photography has changed drastically over the last decade. 10 years ago, medium format cameras, matted albums, few electronic (computer) services, and the overall approach to wedding photography was much slower and much more traditional. Brides were afraid of digital cameras. Coffee table and flush mount albums were thought of as a “novelty” and would phase out. Now 10 years later digital photography, flush mount and coffee table albums, and journalistic styles are the norm. It is exciting to see what tomorrow will bring. One thing is for sure, today’s bride wants something unique and creative, a storybook that artistically documents every aspect of their wedding day start to finish. Every bride deserves this and it’s nice to see that finally photographers are catching on and delivering.
Although, just like every rose has its thorn, today’s wedding photography has a downside as well. With the bad shape of the economy over that last few years there has been a ton of new wedding photographers popping up everywhere. Some are good, some are great, but a bunch fit into a different category. That is the one major downside of digital, and journalistic photography. Today’s bride needs to really research any vendors she is interested in.
E: Speaking of the downturn in the economy, we all know that it has really hit our area hard. How has JS Photography dealt with the economic downturn?
JS: JS Photography has been just as busy as ever during this tough time. I believe this is due to our package structure, approach to package options and overall approach to business. I am not here to try to get anyone to hire me, I am here to show them how to see their wedding thru my eyes. I don’t make promises I can’t keep, I don’t say one thing then do another, I don’t offer something I can’t provide. I want each bride to think of me as a friend and know that I genuinely care and will do everything I can to make her day the best day. I want them to invite me to document their day for them, not hire me to take pictures.
B: Any advice to those looking to save some money on their wedding?
JS: When it comes to cost savings on a wedding the word budget comes up every time. Make no mistake about it weddings are expensive. But the budget usually is not the problem, budget allocation is, especially when it comes to photography. One of the best things about our package set-up is that every package we offer has the same service. Unlimited time and locations, unlimited shots taken, no hidden fees, etc. so a bride that goes with the limited package gets the same service, quality, shots taken, and everything else just as a bride that went with a higher package gets. [click here for a complete package list] Then it just comes down to allocating their priorities and adjusting from there. The budget limits what a couple can have on their wedding day but it doesn’t have to limit the experience they have. It is important to really sit down and discuss what is most important to them, what they think would be nice to have, and finally what they can do without.
B: Ultimately, what can a bride expect by choosing JS Photography for their wedding?
JS: When you hire us for a wedding you can feel good knowing you are hiring one of the strongest photography companies out there. Our reputation is outstanding, track record impeccable, and style in a class of its own. We do this because we love it, which shows in our pictures as well as our work ethic.
B: Any other advice that you would like to pass along to future brides?
JS: When the wedding day gets there the bride’s job should be done. Let all of the hard work and planning do its job. Sit back and enjoy the day. I see a ton of brides still worried about too many things on the wedding day when it is supposed to be the day it all comes together. A wedding day goes too fast anyway, so don’t miss it by worrying about the small stuff. Also, I have a whole section on my website under “FYI and Suggestions” that covers a ton of advise, suggestions and should do’s.
For more information on JS Photography visit their website www.photosbyjs.com
Tom Santilli has been in the Detroit wedding industry since 2002, and in that time has established himself as one of the top in his field. His company, Complete Video Solutions , was named as the #1 Best Wedding Videographer in Detroit by local brides and Channel 4 FIVE consecutive years and is currently inducted into TheKnot.com's "Vendor Hall of Fame." He also has won several awards for his wedding production, and is a member of WEVA (Wedding & Event Videographers Association.) As the Detroit Wedding Examiner, he has helped hundreds of brides with their weddings, with a local knowledge not found anywhere else. Being in the industry for so long, he is an expert in all areas of wedding planning, not just videography. He welcomes your questions, article suggestions, or feedback, and he can be reached