“I just want to create images that make people happy for the rest of their lives. Images that will make them remember why they got married, why they started a family, and why they’re building this life together.”
Tell me I’m not the only one who has swooned over the gorgeous wedding photography of two complete strangers? Yes? No? Are you still with me?
Often times it is the magnificent lighting or, perhaps, the candidly caught expression worn by the groom when he catches that first glimpse of his bride.
I’m captivated by those pictures that say a hundred words. However, I rarely take a deserving moment to think of the enormous amount of effort and creativity that stirs behind the lens; capturing magical moments that last a lifetime.
Meet Rich Lander, of CHARD Photography.
His online presence is rapidly growing as he is becoming one of the most sought out wedding photographers of southern California. His work has been featured in The Knot and Huffington Post Weddings although his specialty varies beyond Weddings; Engagements, Family, Maternity, Portraits, Miscellaneous. Rich is as wonderful to correspond with as his photos are breathtaking.
Q + A with Rich Lander
Take me back to the beginning. How did you start out snapping photos?
Hmm, well photography certainly wasn’t part of my big plan. It kind of just happened. I went to school to study graphic design and loved everything about it! I was lucky enough to land a design job on my very last day of school. I started working for a large corporation and it was awesome. I was twenty something, making a steady paycheck, with awesome benefits, 401k matching…the works! After about 5 years, I had completely lost my creativity. Trying to be creative from 9-5, in a cubicle, and dealing with office politics had taken its toll on me. In 2010 I was lucky enough to receive a semi-professional camera as a birthday gift and I was stoked to have a creative hobby again. I started taking photos and posting them on Facebook and some very brave girl asked me to shoot her wedding…and well, I was dumb enough to say yes. After that, I was hooked! I loved it. I love shooting weddings! One wedding turned into ten. Ten turned into 20. And last year I shot 42 weddings!
Tell me about the time you knew you wanted to turn your passion of photography into your business?
I truly didn’t expect for it ever to be a business or my career at all. It sort of crept up on me! I was working that full time job as a graphic designer and was shooting weddings on the weekends and editing all night. Eventually, my photography business got so busy that it was getting in the way of my office job so I was able to quit. My photography business has been so much better since then. Not just because of the additional hours I’m able to work on it, but just being able to focus on one type of work!
Who or what inspires your creativity?
I love people. It’s weird to type that because I’m quite the introvert. But when I’m out shooting, I’m comfortable…put a camera in my hand and I feel much more confident about being with strangers. Anyhow, I’m inspired by the everyday people that I shoot. I love trying to capture the emotion of one of the most important days of their lives, and to capture the connection that they have with each other. While I love looking at landscape and architectural photography, I could never do it. I don’t think I have the patience. Shoot with people; it’s definitely my thing!
Describe your aesthetic in three words…
Classic, romantic, and warm
What is your favorite wedding moment to capture?
I love when I get to shoot with the bride and groom alone just after they’ve been married. They’re on such a high! So many times I see them look at each other and say, “can you believe we just did that?!”, with the biggest grins on their faces. It’s awesome that I get to photograph that every weekend!
What is your mission/cause?
I just want to create images that make people happy for the rest of their lives. Images that will make them remember why they got married, why they started a family, and why they’re building this life together. I want to create images that years down the road, my clients grandchildren will get to see just how beautiful their grandma and grandpa were.
How has social media/the web helped your cause?
It’s everything. I mean Facebook was the way that I was even able to start booking jobs. I booked my whole first year of weddings with Facebook alone. The only reason I had built a website after that was to come off as more professional, ha! Now that Facebook has changed the way that things do (bummer!), it’s all about Instagram. And I’m totally addicted to it. It’s designed for sharing photography so it’s really perfect for what I do. The way it works right now, you get to see everyone’s posts, and it’s pretty much just a photo with very little text, very little distraction from that image and it’s so fast to flip through your feed. I love it.
What piece of advice would you give to budding photographers?
There’s no easy button. Spend the time to learn as much as you can. Spend the time shooting enough stuff to figure out what your aesthetic is. You’ll always be more successful if you can shoot in a way that nobody is or can!
Do you have a favorite location to take photos?
I’m lucky enough to have a really awesome nature park about 5 minutes from my home. It’s gorgeous with rolling hills and giant oak trees….it looks nothing like Orange County, but it’s right in the middle of it! If I could a favorite spot that I’ve ever shot though, it would be back in Menora, Spain. I shot a wedding out there over the summer and the light was INSANE! Like nothing I’ve seen before!
Describe one of the unexpected twists or turns your journey has taken.
Becoming friends with my clients. Some of my clients from my beginning years have become truly great friends! People that I spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with! Never expected that in a million years!
What is next for you? And where is the best place for your followers to keep up with Chard photography?
Great question! I’m literally taking two weeks off this month to try and figure that out. I’m happy with the way things are going right now, I just want to keep shooting better images, and taking great care of my couples! I think some sort of teaching and mentorship will become a bigger part of my life in the near future as well :). Best place to keep up with me is on Instagram here: www.instagram.com/chardphoto.
I commend Rich Lander for keeping it real and sharing the reality of his journey, which didn’t necessarily go according to plan [A]. Yet, by taking a risk and pursuing his creative passion, CHARD photography was born and is thriving. His talent is obvious and seemingly naturalistic yet his devotion and purpose surrounding the quality and uniqueness of his work is admirable.