Come meet the one and only David Graham, a wedding photography wizard from sunny Sarasota, Florida! With 35 laughter-filled years behind the camera, David never misses a beat or a joke. We first met David at our maiden Not-a-Conference in Banff, and he's been a beloved fixture ever since. Get ready to be charmed and inspired—once you meet David, you're in for a delight!
What encouraged you to pursue photography as a career?
Photography has always been an important part of my life. After friends and family encouraged me and a few successful photoshoots I could tell that photography would be a great career. I just love when a couple or family sees my photos and they are so happy and I know that they will have a memory that will last a lifetime.
Where/who do you draw creative inspiration from?
I always try to embrace the emotion and feel of the venue or location that we are photographing at. Nature, the architecture, and the attention to detail that each location provides allows for so much creativity. I also spend many hours each week studying the classic photographers and the current trending ones to make sure I stay current and can incorporate popular trends and ideas while staying true to my unique style of photography
What makes you stand out as a photographer?
My customer service skills for sure. Almost every current photographer can take excellent photos. Our equipment is so good compared to what I learned on. What sets me apart as a photographer is the entire customer experience from the first contact, the engagement, to the follow-up after the delivery. There is no substitute for actively engaging the client, understanding their needs and vision, and delivering on that.
How would you describe your style?
I use a true to life, photo journalistic style, in my photography. I like to show the event as it really happened with a lot of candid photos along with the standard wedding photos. I use light edits where needed, but nothing too stylized or dramatic. My clients who seek me out are usually looking for this. I do have 6 different looks and feels that I have developed based on the venue or location, light and airy at the beach, big and bold at barn venues, cinematic at a museum, but my style stays consistent.
What are some steps you take to make your clients feel comfortable and have a great time in front of your camera?
The first five minutes you meet the client sets the tone for the day. I just love weddings so I am always happy and excited when I arrive at the location! I give everyone a personal hello, call each person by name, and it is important to give everyone a handshake or a hug as long as they are comfortable with that. It makes everyone feel important and that you care and are focused on them and their needs and wants. I also crack a lot of jokes especially at myself which always makes the clients laugh and have a good time. This approach isn’t for everyone but it comes naturally to me and I have a great time along with the client.
What’s your most memorable moment in photography?
I am so lucky to have so many great memories but the most memorable is that I have had a chance to capture my three boys growing up for the last 30 years and I wouldn’t trade those images and memories for anything.
What’s your favorite part about being a photographer?
As a wedding photographer I just love helping to capture the couple's start of their marriage and know that when I do a good job they will be happy but also their children and grandchildren will have great photos and memories of their parents and grandparents!
What does “success” look like for you? What is something you’ve accomplished that you’re proud of?
Success is never about the money. Money will never make you really happy. Money gives you freedom, time, and pays the bills. If you do what you love, the money will come. Success is waking up in the morning, loving each day, and being able to do what you are passionate about. To me that’s success.
As far as something I am proud of, I can talk about my travels and adventures as a photographer, but the thing I am most proud of is that I have never left a customer unhappy. I have had unhappy clients but I do whatever it takes to make them satisfied and make sure that each and every one of them knows that I care about them and that they are important to me.
How has Focal helped you grow as a photographer?
Focal has literally given me my time back. I was spending hours each week on my website and back office activities. That was taking me away from my photography and my time with my clients. Now I can focus on my sales, photography, and delivery knowing and trusting that Focal is taking care of the applications that I was spending too much time on. I feel that the Focal team matches my idea of customer service and success. The entire team makes you feel like you are the most important customer and their execution has been flawless.
Anything else you wish we asked you, or anything you want to add?
I just love being part of the Focal customer community and all the people I have met at the conferences, NACs, and workshops. Having a company like Focal to partner with has not only made my personal life better by giving me back my time but Focal has made my company as a whole better by allowing me to reach more clients and to help improve my workflows to increase my clients satisfaction even more!