We first met Anna Zajac of Anna Zajac Photography at Conrad Botzum Farmstead in the Merriman Valley close to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. My associate DJ (Mike) and I (Anna-Jeannine/DJ AJ9) were providing Ceremony Sound Services, Reception Entertainment/Direction, Master of Ceremonies and Disc Jockey Services, and lighting design for John and Amber’s September 2013 outdoor Wedding Ceremony and rustic-chic barn Wedding Reception, and Anna was their photographer.
What strikes me about Anna is her quiet strength, juxtaposed with an infectious excitement. Anna seems reserved, at first, but upon further examination, it’s easy to see how jazzed she is to be doing what she loves — helping couples capture and preserve their precious wedding day special moments. Plus, her stealth helps her capture intimate moments without disturbing them — just check out some of her work with couples included in the article, below. Anna is a naturally-careful observer, and it shows in her stunning work!
As has been established several times on this blog, my belief is that a professional photographer is invaluable to any couple in their quest to obtain beautiful photo memories of their big day, but — especially in a challenging lighting situation (like — oh, say — a dark 100+ year-old barn with unusual feature lighting effects!) an experienced, educated archiver is a MUST.
Enough introductory ado! On with the interview!
Something New Entertainment’s DJ Anna-Jeannine “AJ9” Herman: What first interested you in photography?
Anna Zajac of Anna Zajac Photography: I picked up an SLR camera when I was 16 and taught myself how to use it. I would take my friends into fields and photograph them and that’s how I learned different lighting techniques. When I went to college, wedding photography found me. I photographed a friends wedding, posted the images on my online portfolio and from there my career snowballed. I’ve always loved working with people and it just made sense for me to photograph weddings. I worked with a pro-wedding photographer for a year and learned a lot from him. For anyone trying to become a wedding photographer I highly recommend working with a pro for a while to learn the ropes.
DJ AJ9: How long have you been photographing weddings?
Anna Zajac: I’ve been photographing commissioned weddings for the past four years! I love seeing the progress I’ve made with my business and my style as a photographer. It has been a lovely journey!
DJ AJ9: How would you describe your photographic style?
Anna Zajac: My approach is photo-journalistic with a fine art feel. I like to edit my photographs with digital film emulated presets that I’ve created in Adobe Lightroom. I look to photographers like Jonas Peterson, Jose Villa, Joy Newell, Chelsea Diane Courtney and Tim Coulson for my editing style inspiration. I believe being a continuous learner is the best thing you can do for yourself as a creative. The moment we think we know it all or that we’re the best, we have taken ourselves too seriously and need to have fun learning again.
DJ AJ9: What do you enjoy most about being a wedding photographer?
Anna Zajac: I love that I feel most alive being a photographer. I love that I get to share my talent and gift with couples and tell their stories through my lens. I love getting to meet so many new people and hear the stories. I’m incredibly blessed to have this job!
DJ AJ9: What is the most important consideration couples should make when hiring a photographer for their wedding?
Anna Zajac: I think the most important consideration couples should make is how much time they are allowing to work with their photographer on their wedding day. Great photos need time and space to happen. I find that too many couples try to rush their wedding day and everything feels so fast. The photos of just the bride and groom are the images that the couple will have on their wall at home and will show their children one day. Bride and groom alone photos are the most important to spend time on in my opinion.
DJ AJ9: What are some ways that couples can prepare for their wedding day to help ensure better photos?
Anna Zajac: Do a first look! I know it is untraditional, but I HIGHLY recommend it to all of my clients. The wedding day goes so much more smoothly when couples do a first look and get their pictures done before their ceremony. There are so many creative ways couples can set up a first look too. I love when balloons or fun backdrops are involved. Even a simple brick wall can make for a great first look setting.
DJ AJ9: What’s your favorite “must capture” moment during the day?
Anna Zajac: The moment I always love to capture is the grooms’ face as the bride walks down the aisle. I also love capturing great dance move pictures at the reception and sparkler exit photos of the bride and groom at the end of the night!
DJ AJ9: What do you look for in a great DJ and what are your DJ pet peeves? How can your DJ “co-workers” help you, hurt you, or irritate you throughout the day?
Anna Zajac: I love when a DJ has my back and tells me that they will look out for me during the evening. I love when the DJ is open to working with me on a fun group shot if the reception crowd is right for it. I hate it when DJ’s say raunchy things over the mic and make bad jokes and don’t take me seriously as a vendor. (On another note, I thought you were great and I loved that you were so thoughtful of your bride and groom! I loved that you brought them lemon pellegrinos and were so joyful introducing the bridal party to everyone.)
Whether Anna is designing something or capturing a love story, she considers it an honor and privilege to be a visual communicator. She was made to tell stories and create beautiful, honest and thoughtful work.
When Anna isn’t behind the camera, she can be found at home hanging out with her cat, Isaiah or checking out a thrift store.
Check out more of Anna’s arty photography with a vintage filmy flair, in the gallery, below.