I’ve traveled the world, been skydiving, explored temple ruins in Cambodia and swam with sharks in South Africa. But easily the best adventure of my life thus far is motherhood. Lydia is 4 years old and seeing her smile makes my whole world happy.
We had the honor to interview award winning wedding photographer Valerie Schooling. She has been featured in wedding magazines like The Knot and she won multiple awards. So who is this passionate photographer? Read all about Valerie in the interview below.
Tell us about yourself and what you do
Hi, I’m Valerie Schooling, owner and lead photographer of Valerie & Co. Photographers, a wedding photography studio based in Charleston, South Carolina. I graduated with my Bachelor of Art degree with the dream of becoming a journalist. I have always been a storyteller from my very core. After working for a couple years in the news media, I fell in love with the power that images have to convey messages and emotion. In 2006, I had the opportunity to get into wedding photography…and I quickly realized this is where I belong.
What does your work entail?
Wedding photography is taking chaos and turning it into art. It is creating a time capsule for people’s lives and families. It’s product photography, photographing rings and details and decor. It’s photojournalism, photographing every interaction, every outburst of laughter, or tearful hugs from the bride to an aging relative. The whole day has these milliseconds of powerful emotion, I just have to practice my skill to pay close enough attention. Portraiture is the bow that ties my work together as an experienced, high quality wedding photographer. It’s understanding light…I always say photo means light…as photo-synthesis, I’m not a picture-ographer, I’m a light-ographer. The lighting and posing of quality portraiture really tells the viewer how to feel. Just as a good writer puts together the right words and moves emotions, the ability to bend and paint with light through the lens is such a thrill to me as an artist.
Wedding photography is long days, often with travel days on both sides of a 12 hour wedding. It’s giving everything I have to the job so that no story goes untold, no emotion goes undocumented, no moment in a wedding day gets forgotten. This is something I take very seriously when I’m hired as a wedding photographer.
What is your greatest achievement so far
My greatest achievement so far? That’s a hard question to answer. Quite possibly buying a house, as odd as it sounds. To be a female, small business owner and single mom, getting approved for and closing on my mortgage was the most rewarding moment of my adult life. I felt that it was not only a win for me, but for so many others like me. If I can do it, anyone can…if they’re willing to hustle. Now, the sky is the limit, right? I’ve won several awards but my biggest honor to date I think is my first place Rangefinder Magazine award.
I mentioned above being a single mom, but I’m not so single anymore! Anyone who follows my business now sees Ed almost as much as they see me. We make a great team. It all started with work, actually. I hired him as my second shooter, and at the time, we didn’t know each other at all other than seeing each other’s names the photography group posts on Facebook. We became friends over a period of several months shooting weddings together. One rainy wedding, something just clicked and we both realized that we wanted to be a team in life as a whole, not just photography. (Apparently rain really IS good luck!) Now here we are: us and our cameras, living the life of our dreams.
I’ve photographed many destination weddings on several continents. Being a mommy is my other favorite achievement. I’ve traveled the world, been skydiving, explored temple ruins in Cambodia and swam with sharks in South Africa. But easily the best adventure of my life thus far is motherhood. Lydia is 4 years old and seeing her smile makes my whole world happy.
Where can our readers find you online?
My website is: www.valerieandco.com Instagram and twitter: @valandco_photo
Any advice for someone considering to have a wedding business or service?
My advice to anyone wanting to have a wedding business or service would be:
1. Have integrity. Be honest. Be humble. Be genuine. Go out of your way to make your clients feel like the special people they are. It will come back around, I promise.
2. Be you. Someone can go elsewhere and hire someone else for the service you’re offering, but what they wont get anywhere else is you.
3. Don’t try to be the best, try to be better than you were last week. You are your strongest competition. Let that be what drives you, your work ethic, your style, your brand.
4. Make friends vs. network. Networking really is super important…but go further than that. Align yourself with good people who run other businesses that you are proud to stand beside in this industry. To have a friend you have to first be a friend, right? Again, it always comes back around.
5. Keep it consistent, on Facebook, twitter and Instagram. Proudly stand by your set prices. (You’re worth it!)