Today I’m bringing you an interview with another amazing photographer. Britton Felber, owner and lead-photographer of Photography By Britton, is a Chicago-based destination wedding photographer. Him and his wife, Erika, are both strongly passionate about marriage and desire to capture the natural beauty and love that accompanies a wedding day. As a husband-and-wife team, they not only bring a unique perspective to a wedding shoot, but they also offer living proof to their clients that marriage really works.
Both Britton and Erika have powerful testimonies of God’s goodness in their lives and give Him glory for the work that they do. They consider it a privilege and an honor to work with their clients, and they have been blessed to participate in some amazing weddings (notably, acting as lead-photographers at Jessa Duggar and Ben Seewald’s wedding!).
Britton and Erika also offer mentoring opportunities for those who are interested in learning one-on-one with professionals in the industry. If you’re interested in signing up to spend a couple days of intense focused study with Britton and Erika, send them a message through the contact page on their website.
Thanks again Britton for taking the time to do this interview with me!
Listen to the full interview below or download it here.
Follow the links below to view more of Britton and Erika’s work:
Greg Hahner Studios: How did you get started in photography?
Britton Felber: I first picked up an SLR in Moscow, Russia when I went over there on a short-term missions trip. I quickly fell in love with how beautiful the photos seemed to come out. Looking back, those photos were nothing special, but it fascinated me in the moment, and I remember realizing that if I could ever get into photography, I would want to go into the wedding industry. I was intrigued by the fact that wedding photographers have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – the privilege to tell a couples’ story like no one else, the chance to see it better than anyone else, and the responsibility to exemplify the beauty of a couples’ day through the images they capture. Those things really caught my interest and attracted me to wedding photography from the beginning. It’s such a cool thing to see a day more beautifully and better than anyone else sees it and capture it as such. That’s really what drew me into it.
The Lord really guided my steps from there and opened up opportunities for me to work for some of the best people in the industry that I knew at the time. I got to do a lot of hands-on learning from different people in the industry, and I really just dove right in, doing everything I could to get my name out there. I used to blog 6 days a week and found myself staying up past midnight most nights trying to promote my name. It was a lot of hard work, and it took some time, but that’s really what got me to where I am today.
GHS: What drives you as a photographer?
BF: I think the thrill comes from the constant challenge to do better and exceed my last performance. My wife teases me about this, but before almost every single wedding shoot or portrait session, I start the day by telling her that we’re going to take better images today than we ever have in our lives. I guess I just like approaching everyday like a competition, trying to beat myself every time. That always makes it thrilling.
Before any wedding day, I get ideas in my head of things I’d like to see happen, and as the day goes by, I work hard to make those ideas a reality and look for opportunities to fit it into the flow of the couples’ day. It’s really thrilling to have a plan in mind, whether it’s a type of lighting that I want to setup or just a situation I want to pull the couple through and photograph their reactions. Whatever the plan might be, when I see those things executed with beautiful results that really reflect the personality of the client and show their excitement and show their love for each other, that is a really special thing.
And each couple is so different; that’s really what keeps it from getting boring. I have never been to a wedding that was the same as another one. People often say, “you’ve seen lots of weddings, you know what’s going to happen, this stuff’s just normal for you right?” Yes, I’ve seen a lot of weddings, and while nothing will probably surprise me, not a single wedding is like another.
What gets me really excited about the business side of wedding photography is the fact that my wife and I just have a real excitement and passion about marriage. We really love seeing how God has ordained marriage as something so special, and being able to observe how that beauty comes together on a wedding day is such a neat thing. Watching a father give away his daughter and seeing the love that he has for her, and seeing him give her away to another man as he places her hand into his, the pledging of one life to another, the exchanging of vows and rings that takes place; just moments like these that are absolutely life-changingly phenominal that happen almost faster than you can snap photos. There’s just so much going on on that day that is just so thrilling to both of us.
GHS: Briefly describe your business and its core values.
BF: We definitely want to show Christ through our work – to show light, to show love, joy, and happiness. As a brand and as a style, that’s really what we aim to accomplish. We want to show how beautiful each person is and how each person is a unique individual made in God’s image. We also want to show Christ’s design for marriage as much as we can through our images. It’s really satisfying when our clients contact us and say, “we just love seeing the light and the joy and the happiness in your photos, they’re so fresh”. That’s exactly what we’re aiming for each time, and we want our clients to recognize that.
GHS: As a husband-and-wife team, what kind of a dynamic do you bring to a shoot working as a couple?
BF: The huge benefit to coming to a shoot as a couple is the sense that our clients are much more comfortable with us. There’s a whole new level of trust that’s built because they realize that we’ve already been through this process ourselves, and they seem to know that we inherently understand the wedding process and all the pressures, the excitement, and the life-changing events that are taking place. It’s especially wonderful for the brides to have my wife there who is just a real high-energy, positive, fun person to be around. She never lacks for something to say to encourage the brides we work for, and she just has a way of making them laugh and relax, which is something I definitely didn’t see as much of before we started shooting as a couple.
It’s really neat to come together and get excited for our clients as a married couple, and it’s great for us to be able to be there and encourage them and tell them about how wonderful married life really is. All of our clients know that we’re really passionate about marriage and that we want to see the same joys that we experience personally to be their experience too. It’s been a real joy and it’s been very easy and natural for us to offer these things to our clients as a married couple.
GHS: What are some successful methods you’ve found to promote your business?
BF: Prayer. Lots and lots of it. The times I’ve prayed the longest and hardest are honestly the times we’ve done the best, booked some of our most exciting shoots, and had some of the greatest opportunities open up to us. Every single one of our jobs comes first-and-foremost from the Lord, and we want to recognize that. He’s our number-one employer, and we’ve learned to just trust the Lord fully. Wedding photography is our only source of income at this time, so we’ve learned through this to seek the Lord and bring our goals and desires to Him and trust Him to show Himself faithful.
As far as a social marketing strategy, I would say that Facebook has been a huge tool for us. We used to really use the business page to post our photos and depend on viral success to get our images out there. We used to post one photo each day because we found that that would get the most viral success, and we would encourage people to comment and congratulate the couple and like their photos. We really try to make our posts about the couple and not about our business, and we’ve found that when we try to bless others by making it about them and not about us, it inherently comes back to bless us. I think the more you can come up with creative ways to bless those you serve, the more those acts of service will come back to bless you in the long run. Unfortunately, Facebook is changing their policy concerning the ability of images to go viral from business pages, so we’re currently looking into alternatives.
Social marketing really is a slow-and-steady process of trying to hone in on what kind of content your viewers are responding to. Fine-tune your message so that you can keep a following excited about you, but don’t blow-up peoples’ feeds with tons of content all the time. People like a steady trickle of content, it really keeps them coming back for more.
GHS: What is one of the greatest challenges you face as a business owner?
BF: Time management is consistently the greatest challenge I face, and I think that’s probably true for any self-employed individual. Just learning to get a list for the day, to set goals to accomplish, and to give yourself a timeline in which to complete those objectives is all part of the daily struggle. This is especially true for those who work in the creative industry, because it can be difficult to set clear objectives, which in turn makes it hard to know when you’ve accomplished your goals for the day. I know that during the busy season, it can be very easy to work from 7:00 in the morning until after midnight every day if I would let myself, but there’s always a balance that needs to be met of doing what’s necessary to run a successful business while still making time to give focus and attention to my family as well.
GHS: Do you have any advice for photographers who are getting into the professional marketplace?
BF: As general advice for beginning photographers, I would say to not worry primarily about gear, but to go “half-and-half”. Get yourself a decent SLR, a couple of decent lenses that will get you nice results relatively quickly, but before dumping all your money into camera gear, spend half of it on education.
People don’t realize it, but often education provides a much higher return on investment than any piece of gear that can be acquired. I became aware of this after working with one of my first mentees. After spending 3-4 days with me over the course of a couple months, I realized that he had learned what had taken me 5 years to figure out! It really made me wish that I could have spent a few hundred bucks to learn from a professional when I was starting out.
So I would tell any beginner that if they can find a professional who would be willing to do some mentoring, even if it costs a little money up front, it will save them years of learning things the hard way. Just being able to walk with and learn hands-on from a professional who’s been in the business for a while will spring-board you ahead in the industry by leaps and bounds. There’s nothing that has helped me excel more than when I’ve gone and taken workshops or classes from someone. What you learn from those sessions is worth every cent, and if you can save yourself years of learning by investing a little up front, it is definitely worth considering.
GHS: In looking back over your career, what is the greatest take-away for you?
BF: Looking back, the one thing that I’ve constantly been learning is that, as an individual, you’re never going to stop learning, and the more you strive and work hard at your craft the more you will continue to get better. That’s why I’m excited with every next year that the Lord brings to us and is gracious enough to let us continue in this industry, because I know that every year will be better as long as I can keep learning. It’s been a neat thing getting here, and I know it’s just going to keep going. It’s kinda weird to say I’m looking back, because I’m really looking forward so much.