Ashley Karakatsanis, Ashley K Photography, Hopelessly Devoted podcast cover

Ep3. Take in Everything, Photographer Ashley Karakatsanis, Ashley K Photography

Sally Mussared is the designer and founder Mussared design studio creating handmade silk wedding gowns.
Ashley Karakatsanis beautifully photographs weddings and newborns at Ashely K Wedding Photography.

Recording by the fabulous Miss Bella Hazelton.

Time Stamp

0:32 Engaging a photographer
1:15 Planning for the best photography
3:02 Favourite wedding venue
5:03 The best lighting
5:47 Biggest wedding tip for brides
8:14 How to photograph with flowers
9:48 Why Ashley K Photography
11:16 Romantic love story

[Sally] Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Hopelessly Devoted podcast. I’m bridal gown designer Sally Mussared delivering you the inside tips from Melbourne’s top wedding professionals.

Today, we are thrilled to be at Ashley K Photography. She does weddings and newborns. This is Ashley Karakatsanis.

[Ashley] Hi.

Thank you very much for having us.

No worries. Thank you for coming.

Engaging a Photographer

It’s great.  I would love to know, when a bride first contacts you, what’s the process?

Okay. So they generally e-mail me or Facebook me, and I will try and get them into the studio so that I can show them some of my work, and show them some albums and just go over their timeline for the day and where they’re getting married, where, they’re having the ceremony and reception, and just go over the finer details with them, and then I go through packages with them, and then they decide on a package that suits their, their coverage.  My packages are three packages and they basically go from coverage time. Generally, a smaller wedding, they’d go for like a five hour coverage, and then I’ve got an eight hour coverage and a ten hour coverage, but the most popular one would be the ten hour, because everybody needs ten hours on their wedding day.

Planning for the best photography

And if, if someone says, “Well, let’s plan our wedding around our photography,” what would be your dream timeline for the day?

So generally in the morning prior to the ceremony, we spend like a three hour window with the bride and groom, so generally it’s about one hour with the groom, and then an hour and a half with the bride, including travel time in between getting from each other, and then it would be leaving the bride’s house half an hour before she does to go to the ceremony, and she can have a half an hour break in that time because it can become quite hectic for them.
Usually when we arrive, they’re just finishing their makeup, they’re getting into their dress, and then they go straight into the photos so it can become really overwhelming for them, so that half an hour break that I usually give them is very needed just to compose themselves, and then we go to the ceremony. That usually goes for about half an hour. A religious ceremony usually goes for about an hour.
After that, we’ll do a bit of congratulations shots followed by a big group shot. Then we do family photos, I like to spend at least very minimum one hour with them doing their photos.
If they’re going to several locations, like city weddings, it’s more like two hours, and then I always try and give my bride and grooms like a half an hour break before they go back into their reception, because like I said, it can become really overwhelming for them, you know. They’ve just been taking photos all day, and they get tired. They need food, they need drinks, so usually half an hour between photos and receptions starting.
Then we do reception, and I usually stay up to most of the formalities, so first dance, cake cutting, speeches, and the father daughter dance, and then if they have enough time within that ten hour bracket, we get some cool fun party shots, which I love doing.

Favourite Wedding Venue

And where is, of all the venues that you’ve shot at or that you’ve done shoots at, what is your favourite?

My favourite venue, and everyone would know this, is Campbell Point House in Leopold. It’s just outside of Geelong, and a lot of my work you’ll see featured is from Campbell Point House. It’s a beautiful like, French provincial style home. Everything is all in one spot, so it’s just so convenient, so basically a bride and groom, they stay there overnight, and so they get ready there.
The grooms usually get ready in the pool house. It’s a beautiful white room, so it’s just beautiful for light. The bride gets ready in the main house. You can see in some of my albums that the images in the main house are just amazing. I love it. It’s so good. It’s my favourite place.

Yes, fantastic, and do you like it inside particularly? Are the gardens nice as well?

The gardens are beautiful as well. They’ve got the most well-kept garden I’ve seen, it’s just perfect, and my favourite part is inside, because it’s very French provincial style. It’s something that you don’t usually see, and, I find that a lot of the guests that arrive there, I’m waiting for them to come and take photos and you can really hear their reaction. They’re like, “Wow, this is amazing.” It kind of reminds you of, the Hamptons and French provincial style, so it’s just really nice.
I generally get a lot of my award-winning shots there, so some of the shots that you’ll see on the wall, are shots from that venue, and I win a lot of awards, so I love shooting there because I know that I’m going to get something really unique and different, and there’s such, like, diversity there, because you’ve got the white benches, the pool house. It’s all white, so it just suits their dresses and it’s just really clean lighting.

Yes, it is beautiful.

And because everything is white, the light bounces off, so it’s just a nice crisp, clean lighting, and then the main house has some beautiful dramatic lighting come through, so you get those beautiful shadows and, you get beautiful detail in the shots. I just love it.

The best lighting

When a bride comes to you and they’re asking, what time of the day is your favourite time to shoot?

That’s a good question. Basically, every photographer loves dusk. Everyone loves when the sun is setting because you get that beautiful back lighting and the beautiful sunset. I generally like shooting in winter, too, because the lighting is really soft and, um, and it’s clean, but then there’s parts of the day where it can be quite dramatic and very harsh lighting, but you can get some beautiful shots using that lighting, as well, like some good shadows and some good depth in the photographs, I love all times of the day because the lighting is different. It gives you a different look at any stage of the day, so, I like it all.

Biggest wedding tip for brides

What’s your one big, biggest wedding tip? For any bride who’s getting married, what do you say you need to worry about or think about particularly?

Well, being a bride myself, I was a bride, one thing that I always tell my brides is make sure, and grooms, is take in everything, when you walk into your reception or when there’s like a minute just to take in everything, just to look around and see what, you’ve created because you’ve spent a whole, year or more setting up this wedding, and it just goes so quickly.
It’s gone like that, and people say it to you, but you don’t actually realise it until after you’ve been a bride that it’s actually so true. It goes so quickly, and before you know it, you’re walking out of the venue, and you know, you’re leaving, so I always say take a moment throughout the night just to really, breathe it all in and look around and see what you’ve created and really enjoy, the moment because it can just go like (snaps fingers) that.

Yes. That’s gorgeous, I love it.

Yes, yes, yes. That’s probably my biggest tip.

Mindfulness, isn’t it? Like, being aware of, walking in and going in, “Wow, these people are here for me,” you know, “For us. This is our moment.”

Yes, exactly, yes, I can give you heaps of other tips; don’t wear too high shoes if you’re not used to it, and don’t wear a big dress if you’re doing heaps of locations, but I mean, at the end of the day, what you’re going to wear is totally a reflection of you, so I, I can’t really give you a tip on that, so, my biggest tip would definitely be just suck it in, take in the moment, and love it.

Yes, that’s great, because that’s what we are trying to capture the essence of their personality in the dress so that it’s just an extension of them.

Yes, exactly.

Sometimes it’s huge and, and glamorous, and other times it’s simple and slinky, and it’s everything in between.

Yes, exactly, and that’s the biggest thing I ask when my brides come in to see me on their final appointment is, “Can I see a photo of your dress?”  And sometimes they’re like, “Oh, why?” And I always say, “I want to see your dress because the dress sets the foundation for the style of what your wedding is going to be. The dress is the big thing, you know. If you’re going to have a long dress that’s got a big train, I’m going to go and take you on a beautiful staircase to feature that, or if you’re going to have something with a nice back, I’m going to make sure that I find a location that’s going to suit the back of your dress,” so it does help me when I ask my brides to send me photos.

Yes, that’s great.

I love seeing the dress, and it, each dress reflects where the bride is going to their wedding, so it really helps me.

How to photograph flowers

Yes, and then we love looking at photos when brides send them to us after the wedding. We get so excited.

Oh, yes, you would.

We spend so long in front of the mirror making sure that their waist is really shapely and tailored so that they’ve got a beautiful silhouette, and then we see them holding their flowers right there, and they block off that whole silhouette. They just look like a block.

Yes.

What do you recommend to do with flowers?

Well, I was taught in a workshop that I did a few years ago not to ever put your flowers there because it cuts off that beautiful detail in the dress, and that these brides are spending thousands of dollars on these dresses, and they want them to be featured the best way they can, so I do take some photos holding it there, but it’s lower down, so you can see the beautiful detail in the dress, but a lot of the time, I get what I need with the flowers, and then I say, “Put the flowers down.” Because it’s also, when you’re holding the flowers, there’s no connexion from the bride and the groom as well because you’re holding the flowers, so when you’ve got no flowers, the bride’s going to go for her groom and whilst the flowers are pretty, you want to see in your wedding photographs the love and the connexion because that’s what you’re there for.
I do get a lot of shots with flowers, especially when you know that they’ve put a lot of effort into their flowers, but I get what I need and then I say, “Put the flowers down and let’s get you involved and let’s feature your dress.”  Bouquets are getting bigger as well. They’re getting huge, so you don’t want this big bouquet to take away from the beautiful dress that you’ve got.

Why Ashley K Photography

What makes Ashley K Photography unique?

I get really personal with them, so I become their friend, so I think on the day when I’m shooting their wedding, they feel like they can trust me and that when I do ask them to do something that they may not feel comfortable with doing, they may feel awkward, they trust me and they trust my vision, and therefore, they, allow me to do that, and that’s what’s really important to me is that my client trusts me so that I can create these beautiful shots for them.
I just want to make them look amazing, and so sometimes they feel awkward doing these, but because, they understand what I want, they trust me and they see me as a friend, they do that for me, and I think that’s what makes me unique.

Yes, fantastic. How often do you see them before the …

So I meet with them prior to booking, and then I meet them two weeks prior to their wedding date to go through the plan, but throughout that whole stage, I’ll keep in contact with them through e-mail. I’ll call them if they need to talk to me. Some clients, like to do what we call a pre-wedding photo shoot, so they’ll come, we’ll find a location and, because they may feel like they’re not used to photos and they’re a bit awkward, so it helps them, feel a little bit more comfortable, feel a little bit more at ease, and that helps as well, but yes, generally we see each other twice, but we keep in contact throughout the whole process.

Yes, great. Okay.

Yes.

Romantic love story

I’m a hopeless romantic, and I think I’ve found everyone in the wedding industry who loves weddings is really a bit of a softy romantic at heart.

Yes, definitely. Yes, definitely.

We started talking to our clients and asking them for their love story, and we’ve got so many beautiful love stories now. We’re looking to turn it into a book, which is exciting.

Yes. Oh, that’s cute.

Yes, it’s really quite gorgeous how people meet. That’s the bit I love the most.

Yes, yes, yes. Oh, definitely.

We would love to know one of your clients’ love stories, from some clients that you’ve had that you just went, “Oh, that’s gorgeous.”

So I had this couple they’re lesbians, and so they approached me at a wedding I was shooting and said they were getting married, but obviously not legally. They were having a commitment ceremony, but it was …

It’s still, to me, the most important thing with a wedding is two people standing up and saying, “I love you, you love me, we’re together, see,” in front of all their friends and family. “This is us now,” and whether that’s legally binding or not.

Exactly, and you know what?

I wish it was, but, you know …

Yes. This particular couple, they got married in October last year, and me and my sister photographed and filmed it, and it was the most amazing wedding I’ve seen.   I cried. It was just so connecting. For me, it felt so real and sincere, because they were just putting themselves out there and showing each other their love, and weren’t getting a piece of paper at the end, and that didn’t matter to them, and it didn’t matter to their guests or their family, and that was so connecting. They didn’t look at anyone else. They were looking at each other the whole time. They weren’t worried who was there. The walking down the aisle part was just beautiful.

What did they do?

One walked down, and then the other one walked down.

Oh, that’s gorgeous.

Yes, it was beautiful. Me and my sister have filmed and photographed many weddings in the last five years, and you know, at the start, we get a little teary, and then after a while, you’re doing this for a while and everything becomes all similar, and this was like, you know, we started crying. We were looking at each other going, “This is so beautiful,” and even watching the film, looking at the photographs, it was just amazing, and I don’t know if it’s because women are more emotional, so there’s two of them and they’re more emotional, but it was just beautiful. It’s been almost a year now since they’re married, and now one of them is pregnant.

That’s gorgeous, fantastic

So it’s just such a good story, and I love them, and Nikki and I have become really close friends with them now, and we still keep in contact, and yes, they’re just amazing. That was, to me, that’s a beautiful story, and it’s good because it wasn’t about the wedding, and some people get lost in planning a wedding and forgetting what it’s really about sometimes, and for that, it just felt like everything was so beautiful and genuine and just, I loved it. It was so good.

That’s gorgeous.

Yes. It was good. I loved it, and they both wore beautiful gowns.

Oh, that’s nice.

Beautiful white dresses, and they both looked stunning, so yes. And they’re just so funny, so yes, it was a good day.

Thank you for sharing.

No worries.

It’s been great.

Yes, I know. Thank you.

In your beautiful studio.

Thank you. Thanks for having me.

No worries. There will be details in the show notes of how to contact Ashley K Photography. Thanks again.

(laughing)

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for listening.  Remember, life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away…