SnapKnot would like to welcome Creative Static Studios to our list of Rapid City, South Dakota photographers! Brianna Hall is a romantic wedding photographer who loves to capture the true love of her clients. Get to know Brianna a little better!
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m Brianna Hall, and I’m a hopeless romantic. With a twist of revolutionary.
I live in Rapid City, South Dakota, nestled in the beauty of the Black Hills. Yes, right by Mount Rushmore. I’m originally from just outside Pittsburgh, PA, which makes me a serious fan of the Steelers, the Penguins, and yes…even the Pirates.
I love to travel, and I love having a passion that can help facilitate that – weddings across the country? Yes, please!
I have two little girls, Aisling and Arabella, who are my entire world. We also have a guinea pig named Charlie, who thinks he’s a dog. We live in an awesome house in the woods, where we enjoy chasing fairies and having s’mores almost nightly.
Why did you choose to become a photographer?
I’m not sure I had a choice. Both of my grandfathers were photographers – it’s in my blood. It’s so much a part of who I am that I’m pretty sure I can never escape it. Thankfully, then, I don’t ever want to. You know how people always ask what you’ll do once you reach retirement age? I never plan to retire. As long as I can hold a camera, I can chase my dreams and live my passion. And why would I ever want to give that up?!
I can say, with absolute certainty, that I was born for this. Shooting weddings is second nature to me – and I still cry at every single one I shoot.
How long have you been a photographer?
I’m not sure there was ever a time when I wasn’t one. Grandpa gave me a camera when I was about two, and that thing was like my blankie – I never put it down. I spent so much time growing up around cameras and in darkrooms that it was just always there.
Admittedly, I took it for granted for a very long time, and never took it seriously until after I graduated high school. See, I was this super brainy, crazy creative girl – valedictorian and all. There was a LOT of pressure on me to do something really important with my life…like, be a doctor or a lawyer or a scientist. And so I set out to do just that…and made it a semester before I realized I was going to gouge my eye out with a pencil if I tried to see it through. I needed creativity and art and joy and life. Not formulas and equations and logic and reason. I jumped ship, stepped back and reevaluated. Around this time, I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, and in the month following her birth, two things happened:
1.) I went through 37 rolls of film. THIRTY SEVEN. I don’t know how quick you are at math…but I switched to digital photography real fast.
And 2.) Everyone I knew FLIPPED OUT that I wasn’t doing this as a business. Hardcore. One lady I worked with actually smacked me upside the head with a book.
The rest is history. I started by shooting portraits and lifestyle photography, and about a year in, my best friend begged me to shoot her brother’s wedding. I resisted at first, knowing that weddings are a whole ‘nother beast – I was actually already certified as a wedding planner at this point, so I knew firsthand how tough they could be! I finally caved, shot his wedding, and fell completely, totally, head-over-heels in love. Everything about it was amazing and magical and miraculous – and I still feel that way about each and every wedding I shoot, seven years later.
How would you classify your style of photography?
Euphoric. Romantic. Very natural, very playful. Just…happy. And very, very personal.
I think I have a very different way of seeing things, and I bring a lot of elements to the table that are perfect for a wedding photographer. I’m the ultimate DIY girl, so I love details and all the thought poured into them – flowers and centerpieces and decor and attire and accessories and stationery. I’m also a designer, so the visual story of the day is always running through my mind. I believe in strong relationships, so the bridal party is always a blast to goof around with when we’re shooting. And the families – full of support and love and encouragement – you can’t force that kind of bond. Above all else, I’m an incurable romantic, so the love story is always top billing for me. The glances snuck across the reception hall, the hand squeezes during the ceremony, the whispered laughter during the first dance. The magic of a first look.
For me, it’s not about a list of pre-designated shots or a posing book stuck in my camera bag. It’s about capturing a love story, taking place right in front of me, as two souls take the leap together into forever. All the laughter, all the nerves, all the tears. For better or worse.
Who or what are some of your influences on either a personal or professional level?
Without question, Grandpa and Pap-Pap were always my first inspiration. Their strength, their talent, their generosity and love and support – it’s the only reason I am who I am today. Without them, I would have turned out to be a very different girl. I’ve lost them both in the past year, which has been undoubtedly the most heart-wrenching pain I’ve ever known. It’s comforting to know that they (and their vision) will live on through me, through the stories I capture with my lens.
On another personal level, my daughters inspire every shot I take. They are – quite frankly – the coolest people I have ever met. At 7 and 9, they have a bigger grasp on our world than most adults I’ve met, and they always know what matters most. Knowing that I’m working toward creating them a life that is filled with love and magic adds an extra level of flavor in my work. I’ll let you in on a secret – I take a handful of shots at every wedding that are just for them. Details that make me think of them, things I know they’d love. Then, later, when I’m editing, I call them over and show them what they inspired. They love being included in my work – and they’ve already deemed themselves as my ‘photo minions.’
Do you have any good wedding stories?
Ohh, so many! I wouldn’t even know where to start! My favorite weddings are the ones that are so infused with the couple’s personality that you walk away with a giant grin, saying, “Man! That was just SO…them!” The ones where they buck tradition and rewrite the rules.
This past summer, I had a wedding that caught me completely off guard. It was at a very traditional wedding venue here in the Black Hills of South Dakota, but as I got to know the couple more through the planning process – and during our engagement shoot – I couldn’t help but wonder about their choice of location. They just were NOT traditional by any definition. Quirky, fun, outgoing. They didn’t disappoint. Their wedding was full of surprises – from colored Converse sneakers for the bridal party to their wild striped knee socks to the stick-on mustaches they whipped out during formals. It was a riot, it was touching, it was completely unique…and I loved every minute!
What’s your preferred type of camera equipment?
I shoot all digital now, though I still have my grandfathers’ old cameras that I use for fun now and then. My favorite is Pap-Pap’s old Mamiya twin-lens medium format. The thing is a beast, and it takes the most delicious images ever.
I shoot all Canon gear, and I’m a sucker for prime lenses. I’ve been known to shoot entire weddings in 50mm…up close and personal!
I am a very minimalistic photographer – no big lighting rigs to fumble with, just yummy natural light and my external flash for those crazy reception dances! I don’t like having a ton of gear to wrestle with – keeping it simple makes certain that nothing gets between me and the moments as they unfold. I like for it to be very fluid, very responsive. One couple dubbed me a photo ninja…I may add that to my business cards!
What would you recommend for a couple just starting their search for a wedding photographer?
Ask for referrals! Preferably from someone who’s actually been IN a wedding or HAD a wedding. You’ll learn firsthand how a photographer works. And set up LOTS of meetings with potential photographers. You’ll want to make sure you really click (pun intended) since a bride is likely to spend more time on her wedding day with her photographer than with her groom!
Make sure you get really clear about what’s most important to you when it comes to your wedding images, and stick by that. Ask for it. If you really really want digital copies of all the images, make that a priority in your search.
And please, please PLEASE make sure you know what you’re getting into. Remember that your wedding photos are the one thing you’ll have to hang on to if you want to relive your wedding day over and over again – so don’t trust that kind of responsibility to just anyone with a fancy camera. Find out how long they’ve been shooting, make sure they know weddings inside and out. I can’t tell you how many roles I actually play at a wedding – I help coordinate, I track timeline, I tie the guys’ ties and pin on boutonnieres. I reassure nerves and calm family members. I cue the DJ for the grand entrance, I show how to cut the cake. Oh, and I take pictures. I can do all of these things – and more – because I immerse myself in weddings. Sometimes paying more for a photographer is worth the splurge because you also GET so much more. I hate when my portrait clients tell me their horror stories of their wedding photos…it’s heart breaking to know that they can never get that day back.
Any fun personal facts we should know about you?
I am super crafty. I am the queen of D.I.Y. – seriously. My daughter just wrote a poem about me today, and she included the fact that I can craft *anything* (the stars are her emphasis, not mine). She also called me miraculous, but that’s neither here nor there. I love the challenge of taking an idea and making it my own, putting my own quirky spin on it. And I’m crazy proud when I get to say, ‘Oh, yeah, I made that myself.’
A few random facts about me?
I’m addicted to Cool Ranch Doritos. I have an obsession with fun colored pens. I can beat anyone at Scrabble. I love the outdoors, and I’d live in a tent all summer if I could get away with it. I love peacock everything. And I firmly believe that there is nothing that can’t be solved with a good cup of tea.
Anything else to add about yourself, the wedding industry, photography, brides, grooms, etc?
I think once you meet me, it goes without saying that I become friends with my couples long before their wedding day. In fact, you could ask Brooke, my client-turned-best-friend-turned-roommate. I shot Brooke and Randy’s wedding this past summer, and we became such close friends that when they bought their house, they decided that my girls and I would be the ideal renters for the lower half!
To all the brides out there planning, I’d say this: ENJOY your engagement. Bask in the glow of being a bride. If that means you have to hire a planner to help you organize the details, so be it. If that means making one day a week a wedding-plan-free day, go for it. If that means having a blast finding all the crazy, quirky ways you can weave your personalities into your big day, then HECK yeah – and give me a call! You’re my favorite. ;)
Special offer to SnapKnot brides:
If you let me know that you found me directly through SnapKnot, I would LOVE to kick in an extra shoot around your wedding! If you live in western South Dakota (ish) this could mean your engagement shoot. If you’re a destination wedding, or would require travel, this could be a day-prior bridal blowout, a day-after rock the dress shoot, a night-before bridal boudoir…or anything else you can imagine!
To see more stunning photos from this romantic wedding photographer, please check out her website!