If you've been a reader for a while, I'll bet you either already know about Atlanta-based photographer Raven Shutley of YouAreRaven or have seen her work on the site. She's been a mainstay of the offbeat community for so long and is one of our most trusted partners. And when someone's been making magic and creating the most amazing art out of love stories for so long, we've got to make sure you know about them, right?
So I decided to see what it was that really separates Raven from all the others. What makes her tick, how her totally warm personality will make you feel instantly comfortable in front of the camera, what mad skills she brings to the table, and why it all means that you'll be floored by the photos you'll get.
Let's meet Raven!
In terms of details or process, what elements do you prioritize in capturing the story of a wedding day?
My favorite things to capture on a wedding day, and even during the engagement session honestly, are the in-between moments and the special or personalized elements; anything that really helps tell the story of who you are, both as individuals and as a couple. When you read a novel, you don't only see the main plot points: there are details and transitional moments that fill in and flesh out the story in a very specific way. These are the elements that can take the base hero's journey and change it based on the details and treatment of those elements from the author. I'm writing the full story of your love and of your day, so I want to show the pieces that really give it the right flavor, what shows your “couple culture!” Emotions are my jam, and I want to be there for all of them.
And I always go out of my way to chat with you about what's most important or least important to you on wedding day, especially if there are any specific details I wouldn't have known about: like the bright pink Betsey Johnson lion's head earrings you spent forever trying to find and are wild about or the cufflinks from your grandfather or the banner with your wedding logo that you personally designed because you're a graphic genius!
Hell yes to making sure the earrings are featured! Honestly, though, it's those little details that often make a wedding super personalized and I love when photographers make sure they know what's important to that specific couple. Plus, you've got to catch that cow who oversaw the whole ceremony…
Do you find that a diverse portfolio strengthens your skills in capturing offbeat weddings?
Abso-FUKKIN-lutely! Surrounding myself with, and taking in media from, a diverse set of influencers has been huge in my personal and artistic growth. Spending time with all kinds of different people, couples, and weddings especially has been an amazing experience in my time as a wedding photographer: teaching me what works and what doesn't, where my style is and where it isn't, reminding me of all the different ways to be beautifully human.
If you're in any doubt that Raven has experience with ALL kinds of couples, one look at her diverse and inclusive wedding portfolio will reassure you. She's seen every type of wedding and is ready for your intimate elopement or your huge and raucous unicorn circus-themed bash.
We know you're amazing at making shy couples feel more comfortable in front of a camera. What are your tips or tricks?
I especially adore working with people who don't love having their photos taken because I can so relate. I'm a little more comfortable now than I used to be, but even still it can be awkward, weird, uncomfortable, and feel really inauthentic. My first and biggest tip is going to be making sure that both the style and the personality/vibe of the photographer is something that rings true for you. You can love the work and personality of an artist but still find their style doesn't feel right with you in it. Or you can love the personality of an artist but not their style. Or you can love the style of an artist but not get along with them on a personal level. It's not anything to stress about, for sure, but it is something to take into consideration.
I'm huge on creating a safe and calm space for my couples. I know that often my couples go through their day a little guarded or like they can't be themselves completely, but they always can with me. I'm here for the weird and even bring a healthy dose myself! This comforting space I cultivate is vital to laid-back and authentic photography I shoot, where I'm able to capture my couples as they are, without pretense or falsehoods.
Having an engagement or portrait session done with a photographer you're considering to see how things line up is a FANTASTIC idea, too. It allows you time together to see if you enjoy them as a human and puts you right in their art to see if their shooting style meshes with your ideal.
The last thing I'll say here is a bit of a mantra I'm huge on when starting my sessions or a wedding day: there is nothing you can do that would be wrong. You literally cannot make mistakes, and feeling nervous that you will “mess up” or “do it wrong” is where most of our anxiety comes from. So know that you can't and it'll help you relax a bit.
I'm very insecure in front of a camera and just knowing that the goal is to just be myself… that's reassuring in itself. And YES: we always support getting in a shoot ahead of time (like an engagement shoot!) to break the ice and see that you'll look awesome no matter what. That's what the pros do after all.
What makes you a particularly good match for offbeat couples?
I live for people who know themselves. Who take a look at what's been offered and can pick and choose the aspects that mean the most to them while discarding the rest. Who value their chosen families and to whom community means the world. Who want to celebrate love with the best people. Who choose to live life and plan their wedding actively instead of passively letting unquestioned norms and culture carry them along. I'm here to create beautiful and honest art with you. I'm here to support you in your journey to design the wedding day that represents you & your love and to help you in any way possible.
See, that's why Raven is such an amazing fit for us. She shares ALL of the same goals we do and has so much empathy for those of us who choose a slightly different (or super different!) path. If you've fallen in love with Raven like we already have, go forth and see if your date is available. She charges no travel fees for weddings within four hours of Atlanta, if you're in the area. But she travels all over, too, so don't let that stop you from getting in touch.
She also offers Offbeat Bride readers a special discount!
Offbeat reader promo:
When you mention Offbeat Bride at booking time, you get 10% off any wedding package!
Go say hello, tell Raven we sent you, and snag that discount AND the peace of mind that you chose an ultra talented, amazingly creative, and confidence-boosting photographer to capture the story of a day you'll want to remember…
… as much as this guy loved this moment.