Photographic memories

Parkville man enjoys making his living by documenting customers' happy occasions

April 23, 2008|By Nancy Jones-Bonbrest | Nancy Jones-Bonbrest,Special to The Sun

Jason Knauer

Photographer

Jason Knauer Photography, Parkville

Salary $22,000

Age 32

Years on the job 10

How he got started After attending the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland and working for a radio station, he realized it wasn't the career for him. He then went to work managing a portrait studio, where he began to pick up photography. He worked as a photographer's assistant for five years, including working with the Photographers Gallery in Washington, D.C. He began his company three years ago.

Typical job Knauer concentrates on photographing weddings and special events. He estimates he'll work about 40 weddings this year. The jobs are split between those he books himself and those he is hired for as an independent contractor.

He puts in at least 25 hours per wedding. This includes pre-wedding meetings with the bride and groom. The day of the wedding usually takes up to eight hours, starting with photographs of the bride as she's getting ready and ending with the close of the reception. He can spend up to 16 hours after the event editing the 700-plus photographs that are taken.

During the week is when Knauer gets to edit the photographs, meet with prospective clients and perform marketing tasks. He does much of this as a stay-at-home dad, watching over his sons Elijah and Owen.

Fees His starting rate is $1,500, which includes an engagement sitting, up to eight hours of coverage on the wedding day, an album of 300 photograph proofs and all photographs of the event on DVD, as well as rights to reproduce and reprint the photographs.

Other jobs Around the holidays, he will do portraits, especially custom Christmas cards, for clients.

Culturally diverse weddings His jobs have included Greek Orthodox, Jewish Orthodox, Kenyan, Nigerian, Indian and Persian weddings. Being an insider to these different ceremonies and traditions is "one of the great experiences."

The good "Photographing the party, the reception. I like getting pictures of people having a great time." Also, Knauer said he enjoys shooting the generational photographs of older relatives. "Those are some of the things that make me proudest as a photographer."

The bad "I don't like traveling," said Knauer, who doesn't always enjoy weddings at which he has to take photographs at multiple locations.

Advice "People on their wedding day, more than anything else, need to relax. They need to trust that the person taking their pictures will do their best to make them look good."

Has seen it all Knauer witnessed a limousine being repossessed at a wedding with the bride in the car. At another wedding, he saw a bride attack the best man.

The reception "The parties are great fun," said Knauer, who acknowledges that when he first started it was difficult to break into crowds gathered on the dance floor and get them to look at the camera. "I have become very comfortable with being on a dance floor and doing that."

Philosophy on the job To make people look the best they can with as little interference as possible. "I want to ensure people are having a good time and enjoying their wedding day."

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