Industry Insider Interview: Olivia Marshall

Meet Olivia Marshall

I’m Olivia, a wedding and lifestyle photographer based out of the San Francisco Bay Area! I love natural golden light, incorporating the environment into my photographs, and getting to document my clients in a very natural, candid way. After discovering my love for photography at a young age, I knew right away that I wanted to make it my career and for the past seven years, I have had the privilege to do just that! I love meeting new clients and really creating a relationship with them and their loved ones through photography!



Instagram: @oliviamarshallphoto
Facebook: @oliviamarshallphoto

When did you first think of becoming a photographer?

The first time I ever thought about being a photographer was in middle school. I remember I had a small digital camera that my dad bought for the family and I always used it to take photos of my friends, my two sisters, the kids I babysat for at the time, flowers in our yard, and even my neighbor’s dogs! It wasn’t until high school when I was more serious with the idea of becoming a professional photographer, and then I went to college for studio art/photography while starting my business on the side!

What aspect of Weddings do you most enjoy photographing?

There are so many things I love photographing at weddings, but I will narrow it down to my top 3 favorites! Portraits of my couples are so important to them and me, I love getting to take them away for 30-45 minutes on their wedding day and let them naturally interact, talk about their wedding, and document beautiful portraits of them together! I also love photographing my clients’ details because I know those are special to them and they chose every single little detail for a reason! These are things like their invitations, their wedding rings, their vows, flowers, dinner tables, escort card displays… all those pretty details! Lastly, my clients love candid photos of them with their guests and it’s so fun to walk around their wedding just getting in-between moments of them laughing with friends and family and they don’t even realize they are being photographed! These are always such sweet memories for them to look back at.

Do you have a method for gaining new clients?

The biggest source of gaining new clients over the past seven years has been word of mouth! I always make sure my clients have a great experience with me, and I have been very lucky for them to pass my name along to their friends and family!

Who are some of your favorite photographers past or present?

One of my all-time favorite photographers is Bernd and Hilla Becher, a German couple who photographed beautiful black and white photography primarily in the 1960’s-70’s. My favorite (current) wedding photographer is Erich McVey, he’s an amazing film photographer!

What cameras and lighting gear did you start with and what are you currently using?

I have always used Canon cameras and lenses since I started my business. I currently shoot with a Canon 5d Mark 3 and use prime lenses. I also photograph with film, so I shoot with a Mamiya 645 which is a medium format film camera.

What are some of the key elements to consider when shooting weddings?

There are a lot of key elements I consider when shooting weddings such as: the style of my couple and their wedding (my couples carefully design the overall look and feel of their wedding and I want to make sure that I understand their “vibe” so I can better photograph the day! Things like their colors, design, inspiration, décor, flowers, venue style, etc.), locations throughout the venue (where the best spots are and when the best lighting will be), timing of events (how the events of the wedding are timed overall and if there is plenty of time to document all of them), things that are super important to my clients (this could be specific details of the wedding day that are more meaningful to my clients, and making sure that I am putting importance on photographing those things), making sure we are well prepared (we always have timelines, family photo lists, backup gear, batteries, cards, film, snacks, drinks, jackets, umbrellas, etc.!).

What have you found to be the best way to get your work out there and get exposure?

I have created some close relationships with wedding planners, florists, makeup artists, and other similar vendors in the Bay Area who I love to collaborate with on styled shoots and refer my couples to! I love doing styled shoots, they are so fun to create and collaborate on with other vendors, everyone gets beautiful photos of their work, and you can submit the photos to a wedding blog to be featured! This is such great exposure for everyone involved and really gets your name out there. Social media is also a huge way to get more exposure! I post on Instagram about every single day and it has definitely paid off because almost all of my most recent wedding inquiries have found me on Instagram! It is a great social media platform for photographers because you get to share your work all the time! I make sure to tag vendors in the photos, write useful and engaging captions, and finish it off with some hashtags for potential clients to find me!

How do you utilize social media and online tools?

Pretty much just answered this haha! But posting frequently and consistently on whichever social media outlets are best for your business! For me, this is primarily Instagram for everyday and Facebook when I have announcements and new blog posts!

What would you say the benefits are for event organizers to work with photographers and videographers?

I think it is super important for event planners to work with photographers/videographers because it is all a team effort, our clients hired both of us to make sure their wedding is amazing!

Photographers want planners to work with them to make sure there is plenty of time for different things to be photographed and for the day/event to run smoothly. Planners want to work with photographers/videographers to make sure all their hard work is being documented perfectly!

What are some of the biggest challenges you face as a photographer?

My biggest challenge I face as a photographer is the fact that there are probably thousands of photographers in the entire Bay Area for couples to choose from and it can be difficult to make sure you stand out! Not only are there a lot of options for couples to choose from, but just for couples to find your website in a sea of photography sites online can be a challenge that is very hard to control!

What advice would you give to photography students or those looking to pursue this career? What can they do to stand out and get noticed?

If you are just starting out as a photographer, my biggest advice would be to SHOOT A LOT! If you want to get into wedding/couple photography, photograph any couples you know, offer to do mini sessions for them (so you aren’t working for free!), plan a styled shoot, and ask photographers in your area if they are looking for a second or third shooter for any weddings they have. The most experience you have under your belt early on, the better! You will learn different techniques, different lighting situations, how to pose couples, locations you prefer, and so much more! As you are producing more and more work, make sure you have a website and social media- that is how people will find you, see your work, and want to book you!

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