Cody Hunter of Cody Hunter Photography is a fine art film photographer based in Florida. More often than not, he finds himself traveling to destinations to capture gorgeous weddings and engagements. We’re so smitten with the soft romance and authentic signs of love he captures in every shot, and we’re continuously inspired as we follow his work. Get to know Cody in today’s installment of our Event Expert Series.
Introduce yourself and give us your 60 second elevator pitch.
Hey – I’m Cody, I’m a wedding photographer, a husband to my wonderful wife (also a photographer and my business partner), and I’m a dad to a spunky little redheaded girl. I’m a major foodie – I like anything from a fancy filet mignon to a really great hole in the wall ethnic restaurant. I live in South Florida but I’m really a good ole Colorado guy. I love the outdoors, and I love to shoot in it too. I feel blessed to do what I love – so if you’re engaged – love food and having fun – then I’m your guy!
How did you get into your field?
Well randomly actually. I’d studied photography in high school and definitely had a passion for it – but never pursued it professionally. One day while my friends were visiting from out of town – we decided to just do an impromptu photoshoot. They had been married a few years – but never had any good photos – so we thought, hey I’ve got some nice gear, let’s go shoot. I had a lot of fun shooting, came home and looked through the images and realized they weren’t half bad – and honestly the rest as they say is history!
What sets you apart from the rest in your field?
For starters, I don’t shoot digital. I shoot medium format film. Yes – old school – film. Ya know where you develop them in a lab. (Don’t worry though – all my clients get full digital files!!) While digital is great and fast and convenient, there is something magical to me about film. It’s not fast – it’s slower, it’s deliberate – to me it’s authentic. I love love – real, authentic, love. It’s my passion to capture that in a non-contrived authentic way – and for me it’s film. Beyond the stunning colors and grain that digital still just can’t match with film, it’s more than that. I think what sets me apart is just being real. While I’m passionate about the intricate details of a wedding and capturing those, I’m more passionate about marriage – what happens after the big day. It’s messy, it’s real – it’s what love it all about – and I like telling THAT story. I’m not big into posing couples too much, when you let two people – in love – just be themselves, their authentic story unfolds and that’s the real magic.
Spill the beans…how do you stay on the cutting edge of this ever changing industry?
I think for me to stay on the “cutting edge” is really to not get too caught up in the industry actually. I do pay attention to wedding blogs and attend photography workshops to keep fresh – but what really fuels my passion and keeps me alive is just truly living. Shooting for me – and no one else. Taking my vintage Schwinn 10 speed out on a long bike ride and burning a roll or two of film along the way. Getting away from the wedding industry and spending time with my family and truly living life really refreshes me creatively, and helps me stay more relevant.
What trends are you loving right now?
I love outdoor weddings with soft muted tones, mismatched bridesmaids dresses and I’ve recently become obsessed with deconstructed/foraged bridal bouquets.
Best advice you can share with someone planning an upcoming occasion.
Please I beg you to hire professionals. Your friends and family love you and are so well meaning, but when things go wrong as something always tends to on a wedding day (whether big or small) professionals are equipped to handle it. It truly hurts my heart to see a mother of the bride frantically still trying to setup a reception room just minutes before the ceremony starts and she hasn’t even gotten herself dressed yet, or DIY bouquets literally falling apart in a bride’s hands.
Describe a typical consultation with a bride.
About 90% of the weddings I do – I don’t live near the bride so we do it by phone. My heart isn’t to try and “sell” myself to someone – so really I just like to talk and get to know them as a couple, what excites them about their day, their vision, etc. Only if I think we are mutually a good fit for one another do I want to be the one with them on their wedding day – so first I just really like to get to know my couples.
What is something that surprises clients about you/your field?
Usually that I shoot film. They know they like something about my images -but they can’t quite figure out what the difference is – then they are surprised that it’s film!
What information should they have before meeting with you (i.e. head count, budget, theme, colors, etc.)? Why?
I’m pretty detail oriented on the front end of the planning with a couple – so I like to hear all about their plans. The more the better! Venue, theme, colors, who their other vendors are, head counts – all of that. Then we can both get a good idea of what they are wanting and needing and see if I’m the right fit. I really believe that with what I do – getting to know one another and really meshing well is the most important part. I think it’s important for both the couple and the photographer to feel super comfortable. I always tell couples – I’m your personal papparazzi for the day, so you need to know I’m pretty much the only vendor who is with you – all day long! I’m really blessed with the couples I shoot, because I always feel like we could be friends – and that’s when I get the most authentic photography!
What questions would you like the bride/client to ask you? What should be asked?
Really – anything! I’m super up front and honest about everything and the whole process. I want everything to be addressed up front so that they very clearly know what to expect throughout the whole process. The most important thing I want to talk with her about though is her timeline – how long each segment of the day really takes. It’s usually much longer than they realize, and it helps a bride know how many hours she’ll realistically need and how to maximize that time too. I think it makes for a very relaxed wedding day.
How do you overcome objections brought to you by a potential client? (i.e. Why do you charge so much for 1 day shooting/a cake/food/flowers, etc.?)
I think that most brides just need to be educated on what we really do. Most have never done this before in their life – and they don’t understand what really goes into my photography. There is so much more the making $XX just on the wedding day – but unless I take the time to explain the process – they don’t understand.
What is your deal breaker/breaking point? Is there anything that when a client asks you say no to/won’t take them as a client? (i.e. ridiculous low budget, extreme/outrageous demand, etc.)
I’d say deal-breakers are if I’m not feeling a good fit vibe. I will be totally honest and say – I am not the right fit for your wedding day – but I think maybe x, y, or z (one of my other photographer friends) might be just what you’re looking for. I’m easy-going myself – so I love to work with like-minded couples. If a bride is a little high-strung, demanding, or telling me how I should do my job – I can usually tell it’s probably not a good fit too. I love to work with couples who love my work and trust me to do the same quality job for them. If a bride won’t allow me to be me – and have my creative freedom – she won’t get the images she sees on my website, and it’s a deal breaker for me.
Any advice you would like to give to potential clients?
Get to know your photographer a bit – engagement sessions are a great way to do that. You’ll get to have some fun, get some great images and make sure it’s a great fit. And…once you see their work and you love it – trust them. When you put your trust in them to do what they do best – I promise you – in such a creative field – you’ll get stunning images!
Every party needs…? Well, I love food – so for me – great food!
Take time to…? Enjoy the day – it’s a whirlwind, so slow down and really be IN the moment.
Splurge on…? Some amazing shoes! (I love a great bridal shoe!)
Save on…? Some reception floral by re-using florals from your ceremony.
Why should I hire a wedding planner versus delegating tasks to my family/bridal party?
I’ve seen it too many times where it all falls apart. Family doesn’t do what you wanted and in the right timeline – they are unpaid helpers – not professionals. You can’t really be upset with a friend trying to help. You have spent so much time and effort on this day-to have it all possibly go wrong/get the timeline behind or not look the way you envisioned, it’s just not worth it. Plus I’ve seen friendships go awry from it and they really just want to be guests. Your mom or sister/MOH wants to enjoy your day too – not work it. At least use a day of planner – you’ll be thankful you did!
How can I trust a wedding planner to pull off the wedding I’ve always dreamed of when I’ve just met them? YES! This is their profession. If you’ve seen their body of work, their design visions, and you feel comfortable with them – then yes – trust them to do what they do best!
Does wedding planner = wedding designer? Or are they separate? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Not all planners design, and not all designers plan – but some do both amazingly!
Connect with Cody and see more of his gorgeous work on Cody Hunter Photography’s website.