Sarah Sankovich is the owner of Shining Moments Photography, LLC, a wedding photographer based in Jacksonville, Florida. Shining Moments does local Florida as well as destination weddings. Sarah answered several of our questions below, and shared quite a bit about herself, her start in wedding photography, and why she loves what she does:
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a small town girl living in the big city. I grew up as the eldest of six children in a small town forty-five minutes outside Cleveland, Ohio (where I often travel to for destination sessions and weddings). I moved to Jacksonville, Florida in 2003 for college, met a nice local boy, and decided to stay (we’re getting married this November–so excited). I love all the arts and the expression they allow. Having caught the travel bug the minute I moved 900 miles away from home, I love to travel and photography has given me that opportunity many times. From documenting a service trip to orphanages in Ecuador; to “shooting like the Masters” in Italy, Greece, and Turkey; to traveling across the country to help couples preserve their special day forever, I’ve dedicated my life to the arts and it has been a wonderful experience thus far!
Why did you choose to become a photographer?
I chose to become a photographer for several reasons.
1) As I mentioned before, I love the arts, and I have loved them from a very young age. I dabbled in several different media, and when I realized I could freeze moments in time with photography, I was hooked. I love being able to preserve something forever. I love being able to catch that little moment that lasts a split second. I love being able to bring attention to the things that others would simply pass by on a daily basis, to give people the ability to look back on moments in their lives.
2) I’m from a big family, so I love to be around people. Portrait and wedding photography is excellent for human interaction! I love photographing weddings the most, mainly because I’m a hopeless romantic and I love being able to spend the happiest day of someone’s life with them.
3) I love the process of photography too. I started my photographic journey with a Kodak point and shoot camera that used 110 film. Ha ha! What’s that, right? When I was in high school, 35mm film was the medium of choice for photographic artists, and professionals were using medium format. I love the film process. Digital is great for travel, weddings, and portraits, but I still do most of my fine art with film. There’s just something about being in a darkroom with the little red light, an enlarger, and watching your image come to life as it creeps across the page that elates me. But when it comes to digital, I love being able to see it right that second and I love the creativity that abounds with editing programs like Photoshop and Lightroom. It makes the computer a darkroom in itself.
How long have you been a photographer?
I started my first job in a studio as a sophomore in high school when I was only sixteen. I had taken a photography class and thought, “I can do this as a part time thing.” When I went off to college, I had other plans though. I was going to be a marine scientist. I still worked part time as a children’s portrait photographer for a national chain studio and worked my way up to assistant manager. In a heart to heart with my academic advisor my junior year of college, she told me I would likely spend my career cooped up in a science lab with no one but specimens to talk to. I didn’t like the thought of that. I wanted to be “out in the field,” to be around people. So I did a complete 180 and became an art major. The next three years, I threw myself into photography and interned with a professional wedding and portrait studio. I worked my way up to second shooter and carried the official title of Production Manager. I learned my wedding photography craft from Master Photographer Rick Ferro and his wife Deborah taught me almost everything I know about Photoshop, image retouching, and album design. In 2008, I branched out on my own and started Shining Moments Photography.
How would you classify your style of photography?
My style is a mixture of photojournalism and elegant fine art. In college, I worked for the school paper and that photojournalist aspect has stayed with me. Attaining a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and learning from a wedding photographer who’s a master at posing and lighting has given me the ability not just to “shoot as I see it,” but to shoot it in an artistic way with thought and precision. I always adjust the intensity of my style based on what the bride and groom want too. If they want someone who’s unobtrusive then the photojournalism is more prominent and they hardly notice I’m there. If they want a more “high fashion” magazine day then that’s exactly what I give them with emphasis on directing and posing.
Who are some of your influences on either a personal or professional level?
Rick and Deborah Ferro were a big influence when it comes to the wedding aspect of my photography. They taught me a lot of what I know about the industry. I studied a ton of photographers throughout high school and college, and I was always drawn to the work of Anne Geddes, Annie Leibovitz, Ansel Adams, and David Lees (sometimes without even knowing it was them). Their styles are so different, but there’s so much to learn from each of them. Another person who has been very influential in my life was my college photo professor Ginger Sheridan. She’s an amazing artist and person with wells of knowledge for people to tap into. She really encouraged me and pushed me to be where I am today.
Do you have any good wedding stories?
Ha ha! Do I ever! I’ve had a few doozies, like the bride who hated the groom’s family, the mother of the bride and the mother of the groom who got into a fist fight…but I have been so fortunate to have mostly been able to photograph wonderful couples and their families on their wedding day. Most of the weddings I’ve photographed have gone very well and been an absolute joy, like my last wedding where the bride’s feet hurt so much towards the end of the evening, the groom carried her around so she wouldn’t have to sit and miss out on everything. Or one wedding where you could see the love radiating from the groom as he looked at his bride, who had been hospitalized the night before because of a car accident. That was one of the most powerful weddings I’ve ever been a part of. The bride, Christina, and her maid of honor were side swiped on their way home from the rehearsal dinner by someone who ran a red light. They were rushed away to the hospital where they spent most of the night and were released early the next morning. Both had knee injuries and needed crutches to get around. Christina wore her knee brace under her dress and used friends, family, and her new husband as a crutch most of the day, but everyone was so happy she was alive and with them. There were a lot of happy tears at that wedding! I still tear up just thinking about it.
What’s your preferred type of camera equipment?
Funny you should ask. I use Canon for all my fine art film work, but I shoot Digital Nikon for all my portraits and weddings. I began my formal instruction of photography using a Canon AE1, which I still use. But when I made the switch to digital for my portrait work, I didn’t like the menus or buttons of the Digital Canons. I felt much more comfortable with a Digital Nikon in my hands and their lenses are superb!
What would you recommend for a couple just starting their search for a wedding photographer?
It’s not a bad idea to shop around. You want to find a photographer you feel comfortable around because they’re going to be closer than your shadow on your wedding day. Look at a photographer’s work before you look at the price tag. You’ll be much happier in the end if you find a style that you like vs. what you thought you could afford. Chances are you will find a photographer who’s a style match for you that will also fit into your budget. So determine your style first. Your photographs are what you and your family will use to remember your wedding day for the rest of your lives, so it is worth the investment to hire a professional. And if you hire a professional, you know they’ll have your images safe and sound so even if you can’t afford an album now, they’ll be ready to design it when you’ve got enough saved up for it. You also want to do an engagement session. Not only will you get some great images of you and your sweetheart to give to family and friends, but it’s the best way for you to get to know your photographer and feel comfortable with the way they work BEFORE your wedding. Think of it as a dress rehearsal without The Dress. On a side note: if you’ve got a great photographer, your engagement session should be a lot of fun too.
Any fun personal facts we should know about you?
Ha ha! There are quite a few fun facts about me. Here’s my top ten…okay twelve. :)
1) I hate pink. Out of the seventeen cousins on my mom’s side, I was the first girl, so you can imagine how much pink I was forced to wear. My mission was always to get it as dirty as possible while playing tackle football with my cousins. I don’t mind photographing it, but you’ll never see it at my wedding, or in my house for that matter.
2) I was 100% Tomboy until high school when I voluntarily wore a dress to prom.
3) I’m good with kids because I’m the eldest of six, and I helped raise my younger siblings. I was basically a mini-mom.
4) I love animals, so I love it when I have a request to include family pets in sessions.
5) I shoot sports photography for fun.
6) I used to be an actress (live theatre/movie extra), dancer (tap/jazz/ballet), and have even done a little bit of modeling for other photographers.
7) I’ve been lucky enough to have had over sixty pieces in more than twenty-five fine art exhibitions, locally, nationally, and internationally. Most of these pieces were either antique processes or produced from film.
8) If I weren’t so in love with my fiancé, I would have stayed in Italy the last time I was there. I’m in love with Tuscany (but I love my fiancé more)! Jason and I are getting married this November and we couldn’t be more excited!
9) I love doing “kid things” like finger painting, climbing trees, and chasing my puppy Koufax and cat Pudge (named by my fiancé after his favorite baseball players).
10) I hope to be an art or photography teacher someday (when I decide to retire from weddings).
11) One of my photographic fantasies is to photograph the Great Barrier Reef and to go down in a shark cage off of Seal Island to photograph great white sharks.
12) Sometimes I tear up at the weddings I photograph because I’m so happy for the couple. The greatest thing in the world is being able to spend the happiest day of people’s lives with them!
Anything else to add about yourself, the wedding industry, photography, etc.?
Planning a wedding while being a wedding photographer is so interesting. I get to compare notes with some of my brides now and it’s so much fun! Not to mention, the advantage of vendors not being able to pull fast ones on me because I have the inside scoop. Be careful out there ladies. Not all vendors are what they seem to be and there are those out there who will try to nickel and dime you. Its important to find vendors who treat you like the individuals you are and not like personal checkbooks.
At Shining Moments Photography, we have standard and premium collections that can all be customized to fit your needs and budget. We’ll work with you to build the collection that’s right for you. Every collection even includes an engagement session and second photographer! We’re experienced with destination weddings too, so don’t let borders stop you from giving us a call.
Special Offer: Book your 2010 or 2011 wedding with us, letting us know you found Shining Moments Photography on SnapKnot, and receive a FREE Premium (150 image) DVD Album, valued at $350. And if you select a collection that already has a Premium DVD Album included, you can either get a second one free or use it as a credit towards your collection or upgrade.
To see what the DVD album looks like, take a look at Shannon & Justin’s wedding album.
Contact Shining Moments Photography today!