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Moments that last: SLOtography talks wedding photography on the Central Coast 

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Photographing people wasn't exactly what Blake Andrews had in mind for his career. Andrews grew up surrounded by the green canyons, sunny beaches, and quiet neighborhoods of San Luis Obispo.

"I was born in San Luis Obispo and now that my sisters have kids who live here, they are sixth generation," he said. "My great-great-grandfather built the Jack House on Marsh Street."

click to enlarge QUINTISSENTIAL SLOtography owner Blake Andrews photographs multiple weddings in the same place, but said that each couple, such as Naseem and Alex, makes their images unique. - PHOTO COURTESY OF BLAKE ANDREWS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Blake Andrews
  • QUINTISSENTIAL SLOtography owner Blake Andrews photographs multiple weddings in the same place, but said that each couple, such as Naseem and Alex, makes their images unique.

Although he enjoyed what SLO had to offer, he ventured to UC Davis where he studied civil and environmental engineering—but he did attend Cal Poly for his master's.

"I think it's fascinating stuff, and I liked being an engineer. I just found myself in an economy and environment where I couldn't find a job," Andrews said.

Post-graduation he worked in his field for a couple of years and packed his bags to travel for a while. He returned from his adventures in 2008 when the recession was in full swing, which didn't help his job-hunt.

click to enlarge UNIQUE The recent wedding of Naseem and Alex stands out to photographer Blake Andrews for many reasons including that everyone used glow sticks while dancing at night. - PHOTO COURTESY OF BLAKE ANDREWS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Blake Andrews
  • UNIQUE The recent wedding of Naseem and Alex stands out to photographer Blake Andrews for many reasons including that everyone used glow sticks while dancing at night.

"I tried moving to get jobs, and I tried applying for jobs all over," he said.

Nothing was hitting for Andrews, so he decided to start pursuing his passion for photography. Snapping photographs of landscapes and friends was something that he'd done since he was in high school.

"I got more into it in college, so the sad thing is that I ended up in Davis, which is not a great place to take photos. It's just really flat and boring," he said. "Nonetheless, I loved bringing my camera along."

click to enlarge EXPERIENCE Blake Andrews, founder and professional photographer of SLOtography, was raised in SLO County giving him plenty of knowledge of the land. - PHOTO COURTESY OF BLAKE ANDREWS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Blake Andrews
  • EXPERIENCE Blake Andrews, founder and professional photographer of SLOtography, was raised in SLO County giving him plenty of knowledge of the land.

In SLO, Andrews said, it was easier to take his camera along on a hike or to the beach and take photos of the numerous scenic spots throughout the county.

"In Davis, because there wasn't a lot of beautiful scenic spots to take photos, that's when I gravitated more towards taking photos of friends. And really, just taking photos of people in general," he said.

Getting comfortable with taking someone's photograph and having the person feel comfortable, too, is something that he's learned over the years. The first thing that about 95 percent of the people he's photographed tell him is how uncomfortable they are with the thought of having their photograph taken.

"I think when it comes to how you make someone comfortable with that idea, is to acknowledge that 'OK, first of all, I feel your pain, I don't like my photo taken either,'" Andrews said with a chuckle.

click to enlarge ONE-OF-A-KIND Although Andrews has photographed the same locations for weddings multiple times, he said it's the people that make each session special. - PHOTO COURTESY OF BLAKE ANDREWS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Blake Andrews
  • ONE-OF-A-KIND Although Andrews has photographed the same locations for weddings multiple times, he said it's the people that make each session special.

When a couple speaks with him about engagement or wedding day photos, he advises them to take engagement photos. He said it's a good practice run and a warm-up of sorts to get the couple comfortable in front of the camera.

"You'll want to get out there and practice so on your wedding day you already know what works and what doesn't work," he said.

Another pro tip that Andrews has is using his digital camera. In the middle of a session, he'll pause and turn the camera around so the couple can see the photos he's taken so far.

click to enlarge RIGHT PLACE, RIGHT TIME Quintessential SLO County views add to Andrews' photos of each unique couple. - PHOTO COURTESY OF BLAKE ANDREWS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Blake Andrews
  • RIGHT PLACE, RIGHT TIME Quintessential SLO County views add to Andrews' photos of each unique couple.

"The realization of that sneak peek just destroys nerves right off the bat. Of course there are those people that look and say, 'I want to change this,' and then we'd collaborate to make the raw version of the photo look as good as possible," Andrews said.

Staging a candid photo entails making some suggestions of certain movements and poses, which isn't necessarily candid per se, but the goal is to get the end result to look as natural as possible.

"Just the ability to look through the lens and say, 'Let's tweak it a bit,' so it looks a little bit better but preserves that candid and authentic look," he said.

Andrews has been taking photos of couples, families, and individuals throughout the Central Coast for years now. He's photographed the same locations multiple times, but each photo evokes a different emotion.

click to enlarge AT EASE Taking photos of people is all about making them feel comfortable with having their picture being taken. - PHOTO COURTESY OF BLAKE ANDREWS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Blake Andrews
  • AT EASE Taking photos of people is all about making them feel comfortable with having their picture being taken.

"The photo in every regard would be the same, but the couple would be different," he said. "If you're doing it right, it's really going to elicit different emotions because you're capturing the essence of the couple."

Take the Nassem and Alex wedding that Andrews photographed recently at La Cuesta Ranch. He's captured the venue multiple times, but through Andrews' lens, it was a wedding that stood out from the rest. One side of the engagement party was Persian so, he said, many of the rituals in the wedding were from the Persian culture. It was the first time that Andrews had attended a wedding that incorporated Persian and Western traditions.

The day started with the bride, groom, and Andrews snapping photos at sunrise—another first for him.

"It was by far the longest day. I had left the wedding at 11 p.m. because it was a rockin' dance party with glow sticks," Andrews said. "There was so much joy and happiness." Δ

Staff Writer Karen Garcia can be reached at kgarcia@newtimesslo.com.


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