Editors’ Choice 2015 is right around the corner, so we’re continuing to share a look behind the scenes of the businesses of past winners. Richard Bell Photography is a top wedding photography studio in Charleston, South Carolina. Founded nearly 20 years ago by his father, Nathan Bell has upheld a tradition of impeccable work, now joined by a dedicated team of associate photographers and staff. The photography can be alternately grandiose and intimate, editorial and candid. Their skillful approach is apparent in every wedding they shoot. We’re excited to pass along sage advice from a second-generation photographer in the biz!
How did you get started?
“Richard Bell Photography is somewhat unique in the photography business in that we’ve been around for over 20 years now. My dad Richard actually started his first studio in New York in the 80s, and moved to Charleston in the mid 90s. I took over the studio in 2004 when Richard retired. Over the years, I’ve had some amazing people join me along the way, especially my very talented wife, Mell Bell, and her best friend Wanda Cavazos.”
What’s your personal approach to wedding photography?
“Our style is very much shaped by the reality of weddings. We do photojournalistic, portrait, landscape, product, architectural, child, floral, low light and noon day photography all in 8-10 hours. We have to be flexible, quick and on top of it. As photographers, we are involved in just about every important part of a wedding day, so we have a lot of influence to help the day go smoothly. There is only so much we can (or should) control, so we believe in making the best of every situation elegantly and organically. This makes our clients happier, and happy people are always photogenic.
The kind of pictures that get me excited are large, cinematic compositions that capture the beauty and scale of the places we shoot, and you’ll see our portfolio reflects that. It definitely helps that we get to photograph in some of the most beautiful gardens in the country.”
Nathan’s Top Pro Tip
“Take more pictures. Every step forward I’ve made as a photographer has been slow. I’ve made so many embarrassing mistakes and taken hundreds of thousands of bad photos. Through that process, I’ve gotten a little better each time. I don’t believe much in natural talent, you have to learn to be a good photographer. You have to work at it and try harder. You have to grow as a person and understand yourself, and others, in a deeper way. That’s how you develop your own voice as an artist in a world of so much emulation.”
Richard Bell Photography
Many guests traveled from the Midwest for this classically styled wedding day, held at the picturesque Magnolia Plantation. The couple was eager that their friends and family experience a relaxed, celebratory affair representative of the South. The wedding portraits encapsulate this sentiment and feature the venue’s splendid landscape, which includes the Ashley River. Richard Bell Photography found inspiration in the evening’s surprise rain shower for additional showstopping shots of the happy bride and groom.
Next we head to Georgia for a vineyard wedding in the mountains. The wedding color palette reflected the greenery of the rural location, nestled in the hills at Wolf Mountain Vineyards. Many of the details spoke to a style of understated elegance, as did the design of the incredible cake by Buckhead Bakehouse— except of course for those darling dog cake toppers! Photos from the day communicate a wonderful sense of location; the vineyards seem like perfect setting for tranquil day full of love.
Nathan’s Two Bright Lights Experience
“The biggest reason we like to publish our work is because it makes our clients feel special. They are so flattered and validated when a blog picks up their wedding. It also blesses our vendor, venue and coordinator friends, as well. By publishing our photographs, we are able to bring some publicity to their excellent services that make the weddings go so beautifully. Two Bright Lights is an elegant solution to connect us with publications and our vendor friends all in one place.”
Jeffery & Tara’s wedding: Caterer: B. Gourmet Catering//Cake Designer: d’lish//Equipment Rentals: Eventworks Rentals//Floral Designer: Frampton Flowers//Reception Venue: Magnolia Plantation and Gardens//
Ciara & Garrett’s wedding: Bakery: Buckhead Bakehouse//Dress Store: J.Andrew’s Bridal//Floral Designer: La Petite Fleur Atlanta//DJ: Spectrum Entertainment and Events//Tuxedo and Mens Attire: The Tuxedo House//Reception Venue: Wolf Mountain Vineyards//