Friday, May 20, 2011

Q + A: Meg Smith of Meg Smith Photography

I have had the pleasure of collaborating with Meg Smith for over 10 years. Her work is classic yet modern and she's great at capturing those special moments with her photojournalistic style.

Because Meg has been shooting beautiful weddings for years, she comes with a calm that can only be cumulated with experience. She knows how to anticipate the next moment before it happens. Additionally, Meg is an absolute pleasure to work with. She has the same dedication to her clients that I do and cares deeply about delivering more than they asked for. Clients can really trust her with the significant responsibility of capturing the day perfectly.

Photography by Meg Smith
What do you find most exciting about your job?
I think that my clients are amazing. They are some serious "movers and shakers" doing powerful, interesting things in their fields. I feel lucky to intersect with them and then be able to photograph them on such a personal, joyful occasion.

I also love getting to work with so many creative people on weddings. In the end it is a collaboration of many elements -- none of us in the "wedding world" work in a vacuum and we all bring our talent to the table and share it. If my photos look beautiful it's also because there were many people who had a hand in helping make it beautiful; whether it's a luscious garden to photograph in, a breathtaking dress, a bountiful bouquet, or a planner who knew I needed the couple at that time, because of that light....!

Many people might not know this but I do, so I will share - you were raised in the Napa Valley so you have seen it grow and change a lot in your lifetime. What do you think are the best reasons to get married in the Napa Valley?
I was born in Davis while my father finished his Master's degree in viticulture and eonology, but we moved to the top of Spring Mountain Road, 200 acres overlooking the valley, when I was one. It was a farming town then! What hasn't changed is the beauty of the light and the gorgeous vistas. And now there are so many culinary destinations--the best the world has to offer has influenced the hotels, restaurants, and wineries here. You can do as much as you want or as little!

What professional photographer do you most admire and why?
Historically, I love Henri Cartier-Bresson because his work was about capturing moments that were fleeting, but were happening completely naturally. So much photography (especially weddings!) feels so staged to me. The challenge for me is to capture things as they naturally unfold, to capture the moments between moments that others might not notice.
Currently, John Dolan and Victoria Pearson have been really influential. They did the photography for the first couple Martha Stewart Weddings magazines, and forever changed the idea that wedding photography had to look a certain way. John is still developing film in his sink, so he gets extra points!

What are your feelings on digital photography versus film?
I don't think I would have become a photographer if I was getting started in photography now. The beauty for me was processing film, seeing grain, an image emerging in the darkroom under a red light, chemistry, tongs, long rolls of negatives drying from a cloths line. Now? A CF card, a card reader and a computer. It doesn't look the same and it certainly doesn't feel the same. It's the same reason I surround myself with books and don't own a television -- I love the texture of paper, whether in a book or from a fiber-based museum-quality photograph.

I always suggest that my clients prepare a shot list of the must-have photos for their wedding day, but not go too crazy with group portraits; otherwise your wedding reception will turn into a photo shoot. Do you agree or have any other advice like this to share?
It's important to capture family groupings, they are historically important. But yes, keep it reasonable! I agree that the wedding is not a photo shoot, but a historically important event that should be documented. It's vital to allow time and space for things to unfold naturally. That's when I think the most playful images can occur, and it simply can't happen if I'm trying to get through a three-page list of photo requests.

Are there any current trends that you find particularly inspiring at weddings right now?
I like that there's a step back from the completely over-the-top wedding. There's more interest in making it really personal. It's a reflection of the couple -- their values and their interests -- and that makes it more special to photograph and I feel more invested.

If you weren't a wedding photographer, what career would you like to have?
I love wedding photography and I hope I'll be doing it for as long as people like my work. I'm also excited about a new direction my work is taking; I've just been contracted for my first cookbook! It's so natural since I live in Napa Valley and grew up in the wine industry, and my personal interests are all about gardening, sustainability, food and cooking -- basically the "Northern California lifestyle" we are so blessed to have here.


  1. Meg, you're such an inspiration to our industry. Keep up the great work. Thank you for the interview Laurie :)

  2. Great photographs. I am dreaming of my wedding gown, too. :D

  3. Thanks for sharing this information and beautiful picture.. They are really stunning... You did a great job.


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