We’re going to be featuring our Premium wedding photographers here on the blog so engaged couples can get to know them a bit more in depth.
Our first feature is on Scott McNamara, a wedding photographer based out of Portland, Oregon.
1) Tell us a bit about yourself:
I know a lot of people claim to have the best childhood…but I think I truly did. We lived on a five mile long dirt road in the woods of Northeast Connecticut on a lake. The freedom we experienced as kids – riding bikes, hiking in the woods, night swimming in the lake – it was amazing. Being immersed in the woods on a constant basis made me so close to nature – it truly was my playground. In 1987 my parents adopted three kids from Costa Rica. We were there for a long time and it gave me – as a young kid – a fresh perspective on the World and life in general. I was so happy to share my natural world with my new siblings – which we all
Just a few months ago we drove down the still dirt road and I actually saw some of my forts in the woods still standing.
2) Why did you choose to become a photographer?
It was a very ironic introduction into photography for me. My family was renting a home in Vermont at the time, I was 15. When we were moving out, the woman coming in behind us was interested in the new stove my parents were planning on taking. Since she was short on cash, she offered up a stuffed camera bag with an old Mamiya 35mm and a bunch of lenses. I begged my parents to make the trade – and they did, thankfully.
So it wasn’t really a choice that I made, I just made the best of a situation at random…and I knew I just wanted that camera.
3) How long have you been a photographer?
I started with that old Mamiya at 15. My early work was of course centered on wildlife and nature. I moved around the country as an adult, from California and Colorado to Alaska and Hawaii shooting a lot of nature fine art stuff. My first wedding was in Alaska in 2003. I would do the math but it will just make me feel old.
4) How would you classify your style of photography?
I’ll divert a bit here…I knew a while ago that I needed to take some classes to improve my photography. So, I enrolled at the University of Vermont in Burlington to learn some photography basics. The class ended up being a big contest between people that basically wanted an ego war. I soon realized that I did not want to compartmentalize my approach to style like they had. They seemed very limited in terms of what we shared.
So in my opinion, prescribing to a style is dangerous. I think it is stylistically claustrophobic. Instead, I consider the myriad of styles as tools in a toolbox. Whatever “style” is needed for a particular client’s needs or to pull of a shot, I will make use of. So I guess I would say I am a hybrid that runs the spectrum between traditional and modern photojournalism.
One thing is for sure – I have a strong emphasis on including the natural world in my images. This is of course tied to my roots in the woods of Connecticut and my early days in photography.
5) Who or what are some of your influences on either a personal or professional level?
I remember how excited I was for my first wedding. I had no idea what I was getting into. At the same time, I remember the drive home that night and wondering how wedding photography could become something profound…how it could evolve. I then saw an article featuring John Michael Cooper and this new concept of “Trash the Dress.” I saw this as a huge leap forward into expanding the creative potential of wedding photography. He is certainly an influence on me in terms of thinking creatively and linking a client’s photography with their lifestyle.
6) Do you have any good wedding stories?
Fortunately or unfortunately I don’t have any crazy wedding stories to share. I do remember a DJ in Hawaii asking me constantly “Do you know when I can get paid?” And how weird that was. Then during the first dance, I watched as he stood, arms crossed right behind the couple. I thought to myself “There is no way this is about to happen…” Sure enough, he tapped the groom on the shoulder – in the middle of the dance – and asked when he could get paid. It blew my mind.
I have had some interesting things happen during trash the dress shoots – like an alligator in the creek in Florida, or the 300+ Japanese tourists on the beach in Waikiki videoing us during a beach session. I also remember just this past October in the mountains in Hawaii when a woman came up to us with a pig on a leash during a trash the dress session. Very odd stuff.
7) What’s your preferred type of camera equipment?
Well, I am a Canon shooter through and through. This is only because my first non-Mamiya 35mm’s were a pair of Canon EOS 650s back in the day. I lugged these around Yosemite, Yellowstone, the California Coast and all over. They took a beating and held up very well. I just kept trading up and improving my gear.
I now shoot with two 5D Mark IIs, an arsenal of glass and a backup body.
8) What would you recommend for a couple just starting their search for a wedding photographer?
Probably the most important thing when choosing your photographer is to make sure you click…both as individuals and stylistically. Is the photographer someone you would want to grab a beer with after work? Remember – this person will be sharing some of the most intimate moments between you and your spouse-to-be, so you need that level
Second, you need to really do your research. Just like every industry, there are people out there that just want to make a buck and are not in it for the love of the art. Most photographers (myself included) will only put their best work on their site and blog. Ask to see an entire wedding shoot online and make sure the quality of work is consistent across the event.
9) Any fun personal facts we should know about you?
For most of my adult life I have been a Project Manager and Consultant as a “day job.” My primary focus is as a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt which is a practice of identifying efficiency and process management. This has given me a foundation of professionalism and the ability to ensure my client experience is streamlined, paperless and not a burden. It’s nice to have a consulting mind when running my photography business.
10) Anything else you can tell us about the wedding photography industry?
A lot of people have been complaining about the “surge” of inexperienced photographers flooding the market with kit bodies and a nice website. In my opinion, this will do nothing but improve the industry. Comfort is a facilitator of laziness and irrelevance, and I believe that we will all need to stay on our toes. The art form and the clients will benefit from the competition, and all us photographers will either adapt or be left behind.
I will continuously improve!
Watch Scott’s video of a behind-the-scenes look at a trash the dress shoot in Hawaii:
Attention Couples! Scott’s Special Offer: New brides that book through SnapKnot will receive one additional free creative session! (Engagements, Trash the Dress, you name it!).
Scott is based out of Portland, OR and is also available for destination weddings.
Contact Scott today!