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Meet Preston Utley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Preston Utley.

Preston, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I began my photography career working for a small circulation newspaper called The Vail Daily… located in Vail Colorado. After a few years at the paper, I had worked my way up to photo editor and was managing a team of three other photographers. The paper was great, as was the community I was covering, but I knew I was ready to move on. Around (2008) an old friend from High School asked if I would photograph her wedding.

Reluctantly, I said yes. Wedding photography amongst “real” photographers had a big stigma attached to it. My preconceived notions were that wedding photographers were out of touch, bossy, and in the way. On the day of the wedding, I took the approach as if the wedding was an assignment for a newspaper or a magazine, and to my surprise, I was having more fun than I had at the newspaper.

The assignments for the Vail Daily definitely prepared me to handle all that weddings can throw at me and I still approach every wedding like it is a unique story and capture the day as it unfolds naturally, and with ten+ years of wedding photography experience and 200+ weddings photographed you’d think I have seen it all, but the beautiful thing about weddings is that they are all different.

Each couple brings its own set of traditions and stories to make each wedding truly unique. My goal for couples on their wedding day is for you to maximize time with friends and family while I anticipate moments being observant and unobtrusive.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Running your own business is like sailing a ship. You need wind in the sails for it to continue to move. During slow times you improve the business by networking, updating your website, evaluate your branding and messaging, and learn new business tactics and methodologies. There are and always will struggles, but that’s part of the journey and to be self-employed one has to enjoy solving the problems that are constantly arising.

We’d love to hear more about what you do.
I have been a wedding photographer for over ten years and specialize in what I would call fine art documentary. I take a fly on the wall approach. Letting the day unfold naturally while being observant and unobtrusive. I use a combination of digital and film cameras and have been experimenting a lot lately with a vintage Polaroid SX-70 camera.

One pack of Polaroid film contains eight shots. Throughout the day, I take photos of the bride and groom, and at the end of the night, I give the couple the polaroids from the day. Couples really enjoy it. They get an actual physical image from there day that is truly unique, an original print, a one of one.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Personality and connection play a big role in my success as a wedding photographer. Also empathy, patience, and a calming demeanor on what can be a stressful and emotionally loaded day for the couple and the guests. I make sure the couple maximizes time with friends and family.

I make sure I get the family photos done quickly and efficiently and make sure I photograph the day in a creative and comprehensive manner. As a business person, I’m continually evaluating my brand and making strides to learn new ways of connecting with potential clients and networking with other vendors in the wedding industry.

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