Welcome to February, everyone! We’re shaking things up a bit this week on Meet our Members by introducing you to one our newer members, Ross Oscar Knight. Although Ross has recently been welcomed into our community, he’s certainly not new to the world of photography. Ross Oscar Knight is an Atlanta-based photographer who has been in the business for more than ten years. Specializing in cultural, lifestyle and event photography, he’s passionate about telling stories and showcasing the beauty of the world around him. His images are recognized across the globe and have been featured by notable outlets such as CNN, Oprah Winfrey, HGTV, the NBA, Forbes and Essence. Ross has also gained a reputation for being passionate teacher, speaker and philanthropist. Two of his fine art photography exhibits — Beauty in the Face of Destruction and Everyday Life India — are currently touring the United States. Ross’s latest venture, a book titled Him: In His Moment, features some of his most striking images of grooms. The unique way he explores the emotional side of photographing men on their wedding day is already making waves in the community.
We’re proud to share his story, his advice for new photographers and his latest projects.
How did you get started?
“I used to stutter when I was in grade school. Quite honestly, I was embarrassed when kids would make fun of me. One day, a teacher gave me a camera and I began to use my images to weave visual moments together to write stories. This helped with my speech and I fell in love with the transformative power of photography.
Although I was fascinated with photography, I didn’t think I could make a career out of it. That’s why I went to college and got a degree in electrical engineering instead. I graduated and worked for five years in the electric utility industry but I was creatively unfulfilled. In 2007, I made the leap of faith to go full-time into photography. I started with corporate events and grew my business by adding weddings, proposals and fine art to my product lines.”
What’s your personal approach to wedding photography?
“My style of photography is very relaxed. I like to capture professional candids. Typically, there is conversation, laughter, activities, music and even food throughout my sessions. It’s like I’m on a date with the couple and I’m the third wheel. I enjoy getting to know my clients and gaining their trust. Once this happens they relax and I photograph them as a “friendtographer.”
I’m not technically trained as a photographer. I started in my basement with a piece of posterboard, a utility light and a camera. Sad, I know, but absolutely true. I was all by myself trying to figure out my settings. Ha! I’ve grown a lot since then but what I love about my start is that I began to develop my own formula for shooting. Now I’m able to teach my methods at workshops and conferences across the country.
I find inspiration in culture. My favorite activity is to travel internationally and observe rituals and family dynamics. I search for differences and similarities in relationships. Sure, I’m a bit nosey, but If I went back to school today, I’d totally dive into Anthropology. I use my sense of discovery to guide my photographic journey.
At this point in my life, I’m most passionate about my family. I’m striving to be a great husband, father and family man. For eight years I focused solely on growing the business. I feel like I had the worst work/life balance of anyone in my circle of friends. I missed birthdays, holidays and even a few funerals (yikes!). That all changed once my daughter, Addison, was born. She is such a joy to watch grow and she is full of life. Her curiosity of the world has caused me to stop and truly smell the roses.”
Ross’s Pro Tips
“Every year I pick a new technique to add to my arsenal of shooting. In 2009, my focus was to figure out how to connect with the groom. After establishing a rapport, I wanted to photograph him with respect and knowledge of his story. Here’s a few tips on working with grooms to get great photos:
- COMMUNICATION. Communicate honestly and directly. Most guys (heck most people) despise hidden agendas. So be truthful from the beginning. “Hey, my goal is to win your trust and to do what’s necessary to make you comfortable while taking photos.” Maybe then he won’t think you asking questions about his personality and childhood is creepy. Great communication is key before, during and after taking a photo. The result will be a groom that feels comfortable around you and will send you referrals later.
- ASSURANCE. I’m sure you’ve heard a groom say, “I’m not a picture person” or “I suck at taking pictures.” My response, “Sure you do, now show me a picture on your phone you actually like of yourself.” Take mental notes and then ask what he likes about that image. If he doesn’t have any photos he likes then ask him about a public figure he respects. Google an image of that person and begin the conversation about what that individual means to him. Gradually shift the conversation to how this person appears in a professional photo. Surely, you’ll figure out more about the groom’s ideal “look.” Let him know its your job to make him look his best! Show him pictures from your portfolio of other grooms and tell him stories about your experiences.
- EXPERT. Become an expert at tying a bow tie. During pre-ceremony preparations when all else fails, you will be a saviour! Enough said.
- RESEARCH. Figure out which one of the groomsmen is the class clown. Make fast friends with this guy and give him the floor to speak during your portrait session with the groom. Not only will this guy rally the troops, but he’ll put your groom at ease.
- TIME. Men have a short attention span. Have your lights set and the locations you want to shoot ready. There is nothing worse than making the groom wait when you told him to be on time for you. Give him a timeline of how long the pictures will take and stick to it.”
What inspired HIM: In His Moment?
“I thought about compiling a book featuring my weddings for years. I just couldn’t figure out how to make it special. For a few weeks I browsed online and visited bookstores to see what titles were out there. Finally, I realized there was nothing I could find about the groom and his emotions. Bingo! When I started writing the book I wanted to include real men. So I sat down and contacted clients I had photographed for the past 10 years to solicit their thoughts about special moments during their wedding day. The rest is history.”
Ross Oscar Knight
Held at the towering Ventanas Atlanta, Natalie and Donnie had an intimate celebration to remember. The luxurious backdrop made for a gorgeous setting for the couple’s portraits, which Ross Oscar Knight Photography incorporated into their images with a skillful eye for detail. The rooftop shots highlighted the beauty of the Atlanta skyline. And, down below on the bustling sidewalks, intricate architecture brought texture to Natalie and Donnie’s bride and groom photos. Complementing their uniqueness of their venue, the duo accented their day with designs by Elly B Events and a vibrant red and purple palette. Ross Oscar Knight Photography’s knack for telling a story and capturing his subject’s personality really shines through in each shot from their Georgia soiree!
This lovely couple threw a fabulous and fun wedding in downtown Atlanta at the glamorous 200 Peachtree that was infused with traditions from the bride’s Southeast Asian heritage. Wearing a gorgeous gold and red sari, Roma exchanged vows with her groom Drew in a ceremony customary to her culture. The photographs of this magical moment speak to the joy of the couple and their families. Knight also took special care to incorporate Roma and Drew’s fantastic Atlanta backdrop and venue into the images he captured for the couple. Each and every photo truly communicates the bride and groom’s love and the beautiful way they blended their ancestral roots into their wedding day!
Thank you Ross for sharing your insights! To see more from his unique collection of photography and his many artist endeavors throughout the year, be sure to check out Ross Oscar Knight.
Roma & Drew’s Wedding: Reception Venue: 200 Peachtree//