Capture special moments from your wedding day
Please introduce yourself to our readers.
Hi there! I’m Hailey Rae- the soul and spirit behind Hailey Rae Photography. The word "Rae" is of Scottish decent meaning "grace" and "responds positively to beautiful things." I love that term and have determined that my photography would in essence be a positive way to respond to beautiful things.
I am Maryland born and raised and a big East Coast enthusiast. I started my business on the very warm day of July 1, 2015. I created my Facebook page, signed up for Instagram, and created a brand spanking new Gmail account. It was terrifying opening myself up to the online world for others to view my portfolio and consider hiring my services. I felt unprofessional and a little clumsy managing my camera, lighting, posing, and editing. Looking back, if I had let my insecurities get to me, I would never experienced half the things I have thanks to being a business owner. In photography I found myself, freedom, and a community filled with support and encouragement.
Since my small beginning in 2015, my business has since flourished and in 2016 I extended my services to the wedding industry. I’m in the midst of my fourth wedding season, have photographed close to 70 weddings, and am rated best in my city two years running. My business has grown in ways I never anticipated and I’m thankful to even be here today sharing my story!
"Weddings very quickly grew to be my passion as I loved witnessing two beautiful humans joining their lives together in a beautiful covenant"
How did you become a wedding photographer?
My start in the wedding industry came from my college days. As a student at a small Bible college, the term, “bridal college” was dubbed due to the amount of marriages that resulted from four years of college. Photography had always been a passion of mine and I gladly offered to document my friend’s relationships. This gave me the opportunity I needed to learn my camera, gain experience, and determine how to carry out a photo session. I’m so thankful for these first years as I grew in leaps in bounds in the world of photography and the world as a business owner.
In 2016, a fresh college graduate, I decided to open my business to weddings. I was terrified and feelings of inadequacy filled me as I responded to each email inquiry. But just as my skills and talents have grown, so has my confidence and ability to photograph a wedding day with grace, timeliness, and excitement. Weddings very quickly grew to be my passion as I loved witnessing two beautiful humans joining their lives together in a beautiful covenant.
Since 2016, I haven’t looked back. I have photographed almost 70 weddings, met hundreds of beautiful souls, and captured thousands of timeless moments. Weddings have taken me from New York to South Carolina to Wisconsin to document some of the sweetest couples and take in the most amazing sights. It’s humbling and an honor to be selected as the one who preserves these fleeting moments. My favorite moments will forever be the first look, the vows (especially if they’re written by the couple!), the first kiss, and the first dance.
Remember the party won’t start without you, and take the time to capture your love.
Are there things that differentiate wedding photographers?
When selecting a wedding photographer, always choose the one that makes you the most at ease, who listens to your needs, and goes above and beyond to make your day special. Weddings can be overwhelming as it is, you don’t want to have to doubt or second guess your photographer’s abilities or their investment to you and your day. Hire the one who acts as if your wedding is the very first wedding they’ve ever witnessed- who celebrates in your happiness and captures your joy perfectly.
Ask to meet with a photographer before making any decisions. See how personalities mesh, notice if the photographer listens to your dreams, is flexible with your needs, and provides you with a contract. As a wedding photographer, I always LOVE it when my couples care about my opinions and ask me questions! I get to know my clients on a deeper level when they share their vision and goals for their day. A good wedding photographer will be very candid with you, listen well to your ideas, celebrate with you, and provide a contract and package that is clear-cut and upfront.
Not only that, a great wedding photographer will go the extra mile to make you feel comfortable and confident with their abilities. All of my wedding packages include a complimentary engagement session. This enables me to meet with my couples, explain how I go about posing, and ultimately make them feel beautiful, valued, and comfortable with how I carry out a wedding day. I even send an e-book before my engagement sessions that provides helpful hints and tips on how to dress for the session and what to expect. I find the attention to details goes a long way and my couples are confident and worry-free on their wedding day.
For you, what is wedding photography?
For me, wedding photography is that one lasting moment from your day. It’s the pictures you’ll look back on for years to come and still be able to hear the excitement, the applause, the laughter. It should be the carefully framed images that are passed on to future generations as the family tree grows, and the seasons of life change. Time and time again I hear my couples express their love and appreciation that I intentionally carved out ample time for their bridal portraits. As a photographer, I see the great value and importance in wedding photos and it’s my job to make sure my couples are left with these precious heirlooms.
My parents had a very intimate wedding on the Riverwalk in San Antonio. Maybe 15 people were in attendance and half of my dad’s family didn’t even attend. Yet, they still made sure to hire a professional photographer. Every time I sit in my parent’s home and stare at that beautiful portrait, I am grateful they too saw the value in photography. The photo is a classy one: My mom in her puffy, cap-sleeve gown clutching a modest bouquet of flowers. My father, grinning from ear to ear in his cow-hide boy tie and black tux. It’s a photo from a special event that I never attended; and yet, I am there. I am able to see their happy expressions, their joy, and their beginning. It’s a photo that will long be displayed in my own home.
"I find the attention to details goes a long way and my couples are confident and worry-free on their wedding day"
What is your ideal wedding photo?
Candid photos are my love and passion! Those moments when your love whispers something to you and a pure, un-posed laugh fills the air as the two of you smile and draw in tight. It should be the photo that captures the purest form of love and the smiles that are shared only between the two of you.
Be sure to leave plenty of time in your timeline for your photographer to capture those happy wedding bliss smiles. Oftentimes, I see couples leave very little time for the bridal photos and when the day runs behind schedule, they stress and cut the photo time short. Prioritize the photos and give yourself a cushion of time to make sure you’ll have ample time even if you’re running behind schedule. The best photos are those when couples are relaxed, focused on each other, on the moment, and genuinely enjoying themselves on their wedding day. Remember the party won’t start without you, and take the time to capture your love.
What should a wedding photography package include?
Most packages span from 6-10 hours of coverage time, and depending on your wedding timeline, this allows documentation for getting ready photos, ceremony, and parts of the reception.
While it’s hard to pin down the perfect wedding package, a good wedding package should include ample time for coverage, a second photographer, and a way to view your finished photos in a manner that is convenient for you. Most packages span from 6-10 hours of coverage time, and depending on your wedding timeline, this allows documentation for getting ready photos, ceremony, and parts of the reception.
It’s always a good idea to share your timeline vision with your photographer during the planning stages so they can offer suggestions on when they should arrive on the day. Every photographer has a different way they carry out photographing a wedding and some might require more time before the wedding for details and bridal portraits. Ask your photographer how long they estimate it will take to capture certain parts of your wedding and you’ll develop a better idea on how many hours of coverage you’ll be needing.
Packages with two photographers allows one photographer to capture your significant other’s joyful expression as you walk down the aisle while the other photographer simultaneously captures the walk down the aisle and the guest’s expressions.
Choosing a package that includes a second photographer is a GREAT idea. Two is better than one is the perfect saying for the wedding day as the photographers can divide and conquer to provide you with all the important shots. Packages with two photographers allows one photographer to capture your significant other’s joyful expression as you walk down the aisle while the other photographer simultaneously captures the walk down the aisle and the guest’s expressions. One photographer can document the groom and his groomsmen getting ready while the other can capture the sweet moments as a bride slips on her dress and shares a moment with her girls.
Selecting a package with a second photographer gives you a variety of options and ensures that no detail will be overlooked!
My wedding packages include an online gallery and a glass USB as form of photo delivery.
My wedding packages include an online gallery and a glass USB as form of photo delivery. I find that providing both forms of photo delivery is appreciated as couples can mass email the wedding photos out to relatives, share the entire album on their social media, print from a high-quality lab, and download their album to as many computers as they desire. Additionally, the glass USB is an extra measure of security for their photos in case computers crash or hard drives die.
Couples should value trust in their photographer: not only in their abilities but knowing they are well-studied, well-prepared, and well-invested in your day. A photographer who takes the time to get to know you as a couple, hear your story, offer timeline suggestions, and genuinely desires that your wedding day flow as smoothly and perfectly as possible is the real deal.
I find that trust and communication is the foundation for anything and it should be the same with your wedding photographer. The more you trust and communicate with your photographer, the more at ease you’ll feel when the big day finally arrives. Just like the phrase, “teamwork makes the dreamwork,” you should feel like your photographer is on your team cheering you on and excited for your big day!
Some of my favorite wedding photos are from these golden hour moments and I always love when couples humor me for a few more minutes of bridal shots
If you could ask one thing of the grooms and brides that would make your job at their wedding easier, what would it be?
One of the reasons I try to sit down or set a phone call with my couples before the wedding day is to ensure we are all on the same page. Whether it’s the final timeline details, the shots they want the most, family situations I should be aware of, or even special details throughout the day, it is so important to all be on the same page.
I would also encourage my couples to lay out any important details beforehand. If there’s heirlooms, cards, and jewelry that are special, I suggest keeping them together so once I arrive, I can be sure to capture these treasures.Wedding days can be busy and I always appreciate the couples who recognize that I am human and sometimes my head is spinning with lists of photos that I have taken, need to take, and details I need to remember. I always appreciate when my couples keep me up to date throughout the day on how they are feeling, and express any photos in particular they might want in that moment.
Couples who are flexible with me and get just as excited over golden hour photos are simply the best! Sometimes golden hour hits riiiight as the meal is beginning, or right after the first dances. I always appreciate when couples trust me enough to let me drag them away from the party for a few moments to capture those golden shots. Some of my favorite wedding photos are from these golden hour moments and I always love when couples humor me for a few more minutes of bridal shots. It’s always worth it in the end, I promise!
What was the most memorable wedding you photographed?
The weddings that always stand out in my mind when I’m asked this question are the ones that overflowed with the couple’s personality. Whether it was handwritten vows, the reception details that embraced the couple’s style, or the speeches that shared a testimony of the devotion of the couple- these are the ones that remind me why I do what I do. One couple in particular whose wedding I photographed, the groom was a very talented musician. He composed and performed a song to his wife while she sat surrounded by their guests. The entire room was silent as the groom stood with his old guitar and strummed his masterpiece.
Between the sweet melody, thoughtful words, and the way he sat staring at his new bride, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. It’s details and ideas like these from couples who use their talents to express their love on a whole different level that stick with me.
To the newly engaged couples who are currently planning their wedding, I would encourage you to embrace your personalities and hobbies. The weddings that reflect you as a couple and the times during a wedding where you can add that extra element that reflects you- do it!
"Nobody wants to expect the worst, but when you come prepared, you never have to fear the unexpected"
Was there ever a time you had to improvise?
One time I was photographing as a second photographer for another photographer on the hottest day in June. The wedding ceremony had just ended and both the first photographer and I were running around outside capturing the family photos. Maryland is notoriously humid and between running around all morning, lack of water, and surplus of heat, both the first photographer and I were a sweaty mess.
I looked up just as the first photographer expressed she wasn’t feeling well and suddenly sank to the ground. She was on the verge of passing out, but we had a tight timeframe to finish all the bridal party photos. In that moment I had to step up and take over- posing the bridal party and continuing to capture the moments as the first photographer took a second to re-hydrate and breathe.I look back on this day and see the value in trusting your second photographer’s abilities. It was a split-second decision where I took over and finished the portraits without the first photographer having to worry that I was making a mess. Life happens in the unexpected moments and part of being a wedding photographer requires you to think on your feet and be ready for anything.
I also see this story as a reminder to why I always take a second photographer or an assistant along with me on every wedding day. Nobody wants to expect the worst, but when you come prepared, you never have to fear the unexpected.