Shalese Danielle Photography

Hey guys! Today, I am featuring my second guest blogger to Maggie's Musings, Shalese Kocher of Shalese Danielle Photography! Shalese is a Richmond-based wedding photographer that I had the opportunity to work with on our "Day at the Derby" styled shoot (she even snuck in a few head shots of me beforehand ;-)). Shalese has a very polished, bright, and clean aesthetic and is here to share some tips with you when you are thinking through your wedding days photos and selecting a photographer. Enjoy! 

Hello, hello!  My name is Shalese, and I’m a wedding photographer based in Richmond, VA.  After doing a lot of commuting, I moved to Richmond in December 2013, and while I love all there is to do in the city, I do miss the mountain views of my home in Orange, VA.  The Blue Ridge Mountains definitely have my heart!

So, a little background about me before I get into some tips for making your photography experience awesome.  I’ve always loved having a camera in my hands, but when I was a sophomore in college, I fell in love with wedding photography.  It combined everything I wanted my life to revolve around: people, love and raw emotion.  Wedding days are always the best opportunities to capture true, candid moments, and that’s what I live for.

I shot my first wedding in August 2012 and have never looked back.  Since that August, I have shot or second shot 65 weddings.  Phew!  I can barely believe that number!  After being a part of so many weddings, I’ve gathered some tips that I hope will help brides and grooms make the most of their wedding photography experience.

And I say experience because that’s what I hope to give to my couples.  I never want to be just a check mailed out and contract they sign. I want to help them create memories AND preserve them.  Your engagement session with me won’t be a lot of “And look at me and smile,” and your end result won’t be “Here’s a gallery of your images, have a great life!”  My goal is to have my clients leave their engagement session feeling like rock stars. I strive to have my couples leave our portrait time on their wedding day feeling more lucky to be in love than ever.  The highest compliment I’ve ever received was when the groom looked at me during our wedding day portrait time and said, “You know, in all the rush of this whole wedding day, taking pictures with you has been the most romantic we’ve felt today.”  Because when you look back at your photos, they should make you feel more than “Isn’t that a lovely photo?”  They should transport back to the most joyful, fun, wonderful, romantic day of your life.

Yes, I can get a little carried away when I’m passionate about something! Let me stop there and get into some tips for making sure you get the wedding photos you’ve been dreaming about!

1) Determine Your Style.  Honing in on what type of photos you like will help you narrow down the sea of photographers out there.  This is the only time I’ll tell you to use Pinterest for anything photography related!  You should create a board and just pin, pin, pin any kind of photos that you like.  Don’t think about it too much, just pin it if it makes you FEEL something!  Then, see what similarities are jumping out to you when you look at the board as a whole.  Is there a softness to the photos?  Are there a lot of black and white images?  Do you like images that are candid or photos that look more posed?  Use this to narrow down some of the photographers you’ve been searching through.

2) Meet in Person.  It is so important to meet with the photographer you want to hire before you sign a contract.  I always tell potential clients that you’ll probably be seeing me more than your significant other on your wedding day, so it’s very important that our personalities mesh well.  Plus, the in person meeting is a great time to ask lots of questions, see album samples and generally just gush about your wedding day.  

3) Consider a First Look.  First Looks (the bride and groom seeing each other in a private moment before the ceremony) often yield some of the best and most candid moments!  I love First Looks for so many reasons.  It gives us extra portrait time, it usually allows us to finish family photos so that everyone can enjoy cocktail hour, it SERIOUSLY relaxes the bride and groom, it’s private and intimate, and on and on!  It’s definitely something to talk about together, even if you think you’re set on the traditional “end-of-the-aisle” first look.

4) Make Time for Sunset Portraits!  I like to add 5-10 minutes into my couples’ timelines so that we can sneak away for some extra photos during Golden Hour.  The light is amazing, and it’s our last bit of sunlight to use! 

5) Get Ready Somewhere Pretty.  This may sound strange, but it is so important to get ready in a space that is large enough for your wedding day entourage AND has plenty of natural light.  The getting ready images are often my absolute favorites because there is so much excitement and joy in the air.  If you’re getting ready at your venue, be sure to check out the bridal space they have well in advance.  If there aren’t windows, you may want to consider getting ready in a nearby hotel suite.  Hotels will usually give brides a royal treatment, so check out their bridal suites to make sure you’re getting the best getting ready images possible!

To see more wedding tips every week, be sure to keep up with my blog or follow me on Instagram at @ShaleseDanielle!

So there you have it. I hope you find these tips useful as you think through selecting your wedding photographer. The one thing I always tell my clients when they are thinking through where to spend their money is that they won't regret spending money on a good photographer. After the big day is over, your photos will be one of the precious memories that connects you back to that day over and over again! If you are interested in connecting with Shalese, you can email her at: Also, if you are interested in becoming a guest blogger for Maggie's Musings, please email me at:

As always, thanks for stopping by!