My dears, this wonderful, amazing, talented and generous gal you’re about to meet quickly became a fave of mine. Not only for her work but most importantly, the values behind it. Perry Vaile is indeed all of these things. Wonderful to her sweet couples, amazing behind the lens, talented beyond words and generous with her love and passion. Fellow LBBer, Erich McVey captured her whole beauty in this gorg love sesh with her hubs and we’ve got the interview to back it up!
SMP: How did you become a wedding photographer?
PV: I became a wedding photographer by first, becoming a historian. I know, I know – it’s not the average route to getting there, but it’s been a beautiful journey that continues to shape the way I create images, and for that I’m grateful, even if that path was a bit unusual. I always loved photography and felt a connection to it, but interpreted that as a love of capturing the past, of protecting it to be shared with future generations. I went to undergrad and grad school for historic preservation (protecting/advocating for old buildings) because I was certain I loved it. I loved historic buildings and creaky floors, and even peeling paint and that dusty smell that seemed to hint at mysteries in the attic. The aging homesteads, the austere government buildings, the sprawling plantations – they all were tangible connections to the past.
Somewhere along the way, I came to understand that photographs provided the same link to History, they captured this fleeting beautiful world even as it seemed to change around it. It wasn’t the text in the History books I had fallen in love with, it was the images. I knew I had a talent for photography and pursued that as a creative outlet, but my romantic heart simply wouldn’t let me work in a commercial setting as a photographer. I yearned for long white dresses, stolen glances, tight embraces. I challenged myself to capture those things with a beautiful honesty so that future generations would be able to see more than just the faces of their great grandparents on their wedding days, but would instead see a little deeper, maybe catch a glimpse of why grandpa fell in love with her, see a peak into how grandma managed to convince him to get out and dance on that dance-floor. That, I realized, is the type of History I want to capture.
SMP: Clearly, you’re bursting with passion for what you do. What sparks that?
PV: I think it’s so easy in this life to get wrapped up in the mundane parts, in the painful lessons and the discouraging moments, that it’s really vital to soak up and enjoy the real beauty of it every chance we get. I still feel so honored to be asked to be such an integral part of someone’s wedding day – to be tasked with capturing something so essential to their own personal stories. Weddings are challenges in many ways, puzzles of timelines and light that we must put together all the while seeking images that are both pretty and authentic, but thats what I love about them and my role as a photographer. It requires a wild mix of patience and creativity, skill and downright cat wrangling, and I wouldn’t want it any other way!
SMP: What is your Be Lively Campaign and how does it benefit your brides & grooms?
PV: I simply can’t wrap my head around the thought that we are meant to live dull, colorless lives. I believe that God gave us life for a reason, and that all of us struggle with recognizing that sometimes, even brides and grooms. It can get SO easy to lose sight of living life right now as couple’s work toward and countdown the last few months until they tie the knot. It seems like sometimes they start to think their life will only begin after the wedding, and it’s simply not true. This season of being “engaged” is so short, and fleeting that I wanted to find a way to encourage my couples to both slow things down and savor, but to also start living life in the moment and not waiting to experience things.
The Be Lively Campaign has two parts to encourage this: first, an annual Spa Day for my brides where they can all hang out, get free massages, and enjoy champagne and cupcakes – this is give them at least one afternoon where they can really soak up being a bride-to-be and get comfortable! The second portion are Push Projects, where I help push them to take on something they wouldn’t otherwise do.
SMP: What is a Push Project?
PV: A Push Project is something that someone wishes they had more time to do, that they have perhaps been putting off until “after the wedding” or “when I get a chance” or “some day I’m going to…” – it’s about not taking their days for granted and instead taking on something that shouldn’t be put off in the grand scheme of life. Something like waking up for sunsets or telling someone you’re sorry. I offer a discount to couples that agree to take on a Push Project, and they’re allowed to choose whatever they like, as long as they haven’t done it before, or don’t do it often. I just ask for them to submit a paragraph and snapshot of their experience!
SMP: Can you tell us a few notable Push Projects that your couples have accomplished?
PV: Heavens, they’ve done tons of things! I’ve had clients who adopted pets (Riley the dog REALLY loves Push Projects), they’ve run in marathons, read books, climbed mountains (literally), taken dance lessons, lost weight, gone to the beach, and even taken a trip to Paris (still jealous about that one). I always love to see what they come up with!!
SMP: What is your best piece of advice for engaged couples planning their wedding?
PV: Other than to really be authentic in who you are, and soak up the day for all it’s worth, I really do love to encourage outdoor ceremonies. They’re the bees knees, y’all. Not only is the light so much more magical than indoor, but there’s something so beautiful about being able to feel a breeze, to feel sun on your face and even hear birds chirping as you say your vows. As an outdoor bride myself, I KNOW it’s stressful to worry about rain, but let me tell you – the images and memories from an outdoor ceremony far outweigh the risk of rain (and I’m a firm believer that rain is romantic – even if it does storm, kick off those shoes, stand in a puddle and feel the water on your skin.)
See some of Perry’s favorite shots and gorgeous work in the gallery below!