5 Question Interview Series | Beth Kukucka
Meet Beth Kukucka! Beth is a very good friend of ours so when I heard she added a little something new to her business I just had to check it out. And once I saw what she added I just had to pass it on to all you good wedding folks out there. ;-) Beth has begun adding video via her digital camera to her packages along with still photos. Even talking about it I was intrigued but then I saw one of her slideshows titled Pictures that Move and it was all over. I was a sappy, goopy girl sitting at the computer slack-jawed and wiping tears. The pictures really did move me! Having the video inserted into the slideshow with the photos was a brilliant move and it really ups the emotion and artistic nature of everything. To fully appreciate it please take a moment and go to her blog. Scroll to my favorite slideshow so far, the one from the Morning Glory Inn and take a peek. It's so beautiful.
So anyway, it's been a looooong time since I've done any 5 Question Interview Series entries and I wanted to highlight Beth. Thank you Beth for taking the time! :)
How did you get into photography in general? I grew up with a mother who was always taking pictures and 8mm home movies - and I loved to look through the photo albums and movies (still do). I recognized at an early age that there was something magical and sacred about the fact that time could be preserved in a photograph. I loved that the moment could come alive, no matter how many years had passed since it was captured in my mother’s camera.
I remember taking my first photo when I was about 5 years old. And I remember “borrowing” my mother’s Kodak Instamatic and walking around my neighborhood when I was a kid, telling people I was on assignment with LIFE Magazine!
I’m one of those blessed souls who has always just known what I was here to do. There was never any question about what I wanted to do with my life, and how I wanted to spend it. (Okay, for five minutes I considered being a Nun when I was 11 years old, but other than that ... :)
The first time I held a camera it was already familiar to me. I really get that I’m here to photograph life, and I regularly feel honored to have the ability to do what I have always felt so intuitively called to do.
How did you get into weddings? My professional background is in fine arts and photojournalism. I did a lot of freelancing when I lived in LA, and had the opportunity to have my photography published in Rolling Stone Magazine, Time Magazine, and People Magazine, to name a few. My interest has always been more in documenting life more than posing life. I actually didn’t have any interest in wedding photography early on, until the trend changed from traditional portraiture to a more photojournalistic style.
I did my first photojournalistic wedding when I was about 14, for a cousin, and I didn’t do another one until around 2000, when the trend in LA was just starting to get photojournalistic. I had a successful wedding photography business in LA for a few years until I moved to the Boston area, where most of my weddings were same sex events, as Massachusetts had just passed the marriage equality law. I did well there, and then relocated to my hometown of Pittsburgh in 2009 to be closer to my aging parents. I have been building my business here since moving back to the area, and love the variety of venues and settings here in Pittsburgh. It’s always been a visually intriguing city to me, and it’s great to be back!
What are some favorite pieces of equipment? I’ve never been real big on camera equipment, and until recently, couldn’t tell you what I had as far as the technicalities of my cameras and lenses. I knew how to use them, but rarely even took the time to read the manuals that came with them! I’ve always used Nikon equipment, and just recently started getting into video, which has meant upgrading all my cameras. Until now, I haven’t really had a piece of equipment that I just loved - but now I have to say that my new Nikon D7000 and D5100 are nothing less than incredible. Not only have they made the process of editing much easier, they have some amazing video features - especially the Nikon D5100. The video effects in the D5100 have made it easier to edit the clips I add to my slideshows, and I don’t need to spend as much time in iMovie for editing. I haven’t even minded reading the manuals for my cameras because they have so many great features!
As far as editing my images, Adobe Lightroom can’t be beat. It’s an amazing piece of software, and I truly don’t know how I got along without it before I had it. It has made editing for event photography a breeze!
What keeps you motivated? I truly love what I do, and feel an intense passion and excitement about my photography, especially my “Pictures That Move” technique of combining video clips with still images in slideshows. This is a new technique for me, as video has become so accessible in SLR cameras now. There is something about this technique that is bringing me full circle, back to my early days of watching home movies by myself, late at night. It gives me the same feeling I had then - a respectful recognition that time - the brilliance of a moment - can be preserved.
I call this technique “Pictures That Move” and I consider it my “signature” piece as a wedding photographer in Pittsburgh. I call it “Pictures That Move” because there is something about the moving picture, especially when it transitions from a still image to a moving image of the same scene, that breathes life into a moment. It’s a picture that moves the heart. It goes beyond a technical style and, to me, touches something in my soul that recognizes how quickly time passes, and how deserving even the simplest moments are of being honored. That is what photography is to me - a portrait of time honored. And the recognition of this is what truly motivates me. (Samples of my “Pictures That Move” slideshows can be seen on that section of my website at www.BethKPhoto.com)
On a business level, I am also motivated to give a great finished product to my clients, and in a timely manner. I am always honored when a client chooses me as their photographer, and it’s a privilege I never take lightly. I am always excited for them to see their images, and feel motivated from the first meeting to give them a finished product that will move them and make them glad they chose my services. I am regularly excited and enthusiastic! It keeps me up at night!
What advice would you give to a wedding couple when choosing their photographer? There are so many talented and established photographers here in Pittsburgh that it might feel overwhelming at first. My biggest piece of advice would be to take your time choosing the right photographer for YOU. Your photographer will be your shadow for one of the most important days of your life, so it’s important to feel a connection with them at the start. I would suggest meeting with them, or at least having a phone or Skype consultation, to get a feel for their personality. Don’t be afraid to ask personal questions that might give you a better sense of who they are and what’s important to them. Again, they will be your silent witness all day.
It’s also incredibly important to choose your photographer based on how you feel about their work, more than on their price, or what items might be included with your coverage. I know that these days it’s tempting to go with the best bargain, but these are your wedding photographs, and if you don’t like the finished product, it doesn’t matter how much money you saved or how many albums you got with your package. Make sure you genuinely like their work. Beyond that, listen to your instincts about whether their work “speaks” to you or not. If it moves you at the consultation, it will move you even more when you see your own wedding images.
If budget is a consideration, most photographers have at least some flexibility in customizing your coverage, so don’t be afraid to ask. If you love a photographer’s work, but feel that they are out of your budget, don’t be afraid to ask if there is any flexibility in their pricing. It’s better to ask, and then be pleasantly surprised to find that you CAN afford them, then to go with someone who is less expensive, but whose work doesn’t move you. And then, trust them to take GREAT care of you, as you can be assured they will!