Vendors We Adore: The 411 on 831 Photography; Photojournalism, Personalization, and Philanthropy

The staff at 831 Photography is very much of the opinion that “to whom much is givenmuch is expected” (Luke 12:48).  Eight Three One photographer and co-founder Stephanie Swarts Smith puts it best: “In general,” she says, “I feel that we are blessed. We get to follow our passion and do what we love. It is hard to call what we do our ‘job’ because we do love it. We have also been blessed with great clients. The people we get to work with are wonderful and make our job a lot of fun. And we have been blessed in having great families, homes to live in, food on the table and a great team of people to work with. These days, that is a lot to be thankful for!”
That thankfulness has inspired them to give back.  Now, in addition to receiving first-class service and breathtaking photographic memories from 831, you can support their efforts to give back, as well.  January 2010 marked the inaugural month of 831 Photography’s “Philanthropy Project,” devoting 5% of each month’s sales revenue to a new charity cause.  “I have been given the chance to follow my dream and people hire me to do what I love. I want to give back to those that haven’t had that chance yet,” says Stephanie.
This month, 831 focuses their intent towards another cause very dear to their hearts — relief efforts after the devastation of the earthquake in Haiti.  This dedication is inspired in part by Stephanie’s very personal tie to the Port-au-Prince region through a high school friend.  After being touched by facebook status updates from a high school friend during his trials as the Christian School he taught at was converted into an emergency hospital/shelter/storage facility, Stephanie wanted to help.  She wished she could pick up her camera and go — to offer assistance, as well as photojournalistic documentation of the trials being faced by those who had lost their jobs, homes, families — whole lives — to the disaster.  However, Stephanie, like the rest of us, had obligations: “Seeing the devastation in Haiti breaks my heart, so if there is something that I can do to help, I want to do it. If I had the means, I would jump on a plane with my camera in hand and go help, but the best I can do for Haiti right now is to help raise funds to help them rebuild.”
Fortunately, the school did resume classes this past week, but many Haitians are still struggling to obtain basic necessities such as food, clothing, shelter,clean water, bedding, and hygiene and disease control supplies.   Many charities are also providing psychological and social support services
during this difficult time.
Last month’s cause — breast cancer research — is also a cause very close to Stephanie’s heart.  In addition to having several friends and family members who have battled breast cancer, she herself had a scare with breast cancer just six years ago when her first son was just over a year old.  “I ended up having a biopsy and everything turned out to be okay, but it was terrifying.  Here I was, a normal 28-year-old Mom, terrified that I might not live to see my baby grow up.”  Eight Three One donated a total of $2,107.50 by month’s end.

Eight Three One is accepting nominations for future recipients of donations.  Stephanie’s time serving on missions abroad in the Dominican Republic changed her life and how she sees other countries and cultures, and they want to know what you think, too!   “We would love to hear what causes and organizations are close to people’s hearts,” says Stephanie. “This is an ongoing project!”

To further contribute to the Haitian Relief Effort, 831 is offering an additional incentive to book during the month of February. Book an eight-hour or longer engagement with a single photographer for your wedding and get a second shooter at your event FREE (a $700 value!). A second photographer is a great way to capture your special moments from more than one point-of-view — for example the bride walking up the aisle taken from the front of the chapel (the groom’s point-of-view) or the back of the bride’s dress as she makes her way down the aisle.  Having a second photographer allows your photographers to capture these moments in true photojournalistic style, even though they may be occurring simultaneously.

In addition to a free second photographer and the good feeling that comes from supporting a worthy cause, all 831 packages come with digital rights release for personal printing, plus the support of a caring staff of enthusiastic and talented professional.  “Our team helps us to give our clients the attention they deserve!”  In addition to Stephanie, 831 has two other owner-photographers — Shannon Smith (Stephanie’s husband) and Callie Mercury — as well as several associate photographers, a business manager (Stacy — call and ask her all your questions.  She’s great!), several cinematographers, a dedicated sales staff, and an album designer who works directly with brides and grooms to ensure that their wedding album is exactly what they want.

Eight Three One’s photographers cover a wide range of photographic styles, including fine art, photojournalistic, and traditional.  Like our Disc Jockeys, 831 photographers spend time getting to know you as clients and as people to get a better feel for what will work best for you and your wedding.  Each of 831’s three senior photographers has a photojournalistic background, with special talents in three different areas.  Stephanie explains: “I am the capturer, the most journalistic of the group… Callie is our creator. She is extremely talented in creating moments that look as though they happened that way. Shan is our innovator. He is always staying on the cutting edge of technology and does amazing things with off camera lighting… I try to match clients up with someone whom I think they will work well with. Then the client and the photographer get to know each other during the engagement session.”

Eight Three One shares Something New DJ’s commitment to our planet, as well.  Go green!  Online wedding galleries and wedding DVD proofs instead of paper wedding contact sheets, online calendar and contact management, and an online wedding contract process utilizing an electronic signature are just a few of the ways that 831 is reducing their impact on the environment as a green Northeast Ohio wedding provider.

For more information about 831 Photography services, please visit them on the web at or call Stacy at 330-753-8703 (866-867-3071 toll-free).

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