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Valley Wed is a unique wedding show offering couples a handpicked selection of exceptional wedding pros in Western Mass. It's designed especially for couples that want to go their own way, but they don’t want to go it alone.
Meet Sandra of Sandra Costello Photography.
Her company title is, "Chief Hugger."
When did you start your business, and why do you do what you do?
Deciding to become a full-time photographer was one of the most heart-felt journeys I’ve ever been on. It actually didn’t feel like a decision but a life calling I could no longer ignore. Over fifteen years ago, I knew photographing people and their life stories is what I was meant to do.
Coming from a large Irish-Italian family, I began photographing people - my family in particular- when I was in high school. As a teenager I spent hours in the darkroom developing beautiful prints of the people I loved. I do what I do because I know how much those moments matter to the couples and families I photograph. That moment in their lives is fleeting and I want them to have it in their homes and hearts to always remember.
What is your very, very favorite part of your job?
I am a people person so getting to know and document the stories of my clients is a huge privilege and brings me incredible joy. The artist in me is equally jazzed when I fill my camera with stunning portraits and emotional moments. Working with natural light in nature or an architecturally-dynamic environment makes me want to jump up and down. For reals. Don’t be surprised if you see that actually happen. :)
What do you couples to know about you and your business?
Connection and meaningful relationships are everything and that is true for me as an artist, a friend and as a business owner. My experience is far reaching as a photographer but equally as a professional within the wedding industry. I have been doing this a long time and know what to expect on a wedding day. I share that experience with my clients so they have the day they always dreamed of, and gorgeous photographs.
Additionally, my connections with other wedding professionals are strong and have personal value; I know them as friends and they always have my back. That means we work as a team and always go the extra mile to make sure our clients are absolutely thrilled with every aspect of their day.
What would make you feel great knowing you had accomplished for your client?
I am always thrilled and sometimes caught off guard when my clients tell me at the end of the day how much their families and friends see how hard I am working to capture every cherished moment and connection. It’s just what I do. A wedding day is filled with so many tender moments and I want to be present for it all. I want to capture that moment when grandma cups her granddaughter’s face, or when mom dances with her son. Seeing bridesmaids giving speeches that make their friend laugh until she cries; those moments are the best.
Family is very important to me. I take great pride in crafting beautiful photographs as much as how I care for my clients and their favorite people. During the day I am laughing, smiling, and providing direction whenever necessary. I’m not just a photographer but I’m also a friend, sister, daughter, and wife. All of these roles have made me uniquely qualified to make sure your day is as awesome as you are.
Do you have any advice for couples about planning a wedding or the wedding day itself?
I have two and they both come from my own wedding day. First, when the day finally arrives, just let it unfold. Things will happen, plans won't go as planned, and in the end it doesn't matter. What matters is the people you have surrounded yourself with and marrying the love of your life. Celebrate this day of moments and be grateful.
The second piece of advice has to do with planning around the light. My wedding ceremony was at noon in the middle of the summer and while we had bits of shade it was super hot and not the most flattering light. When planning your outdoor ceremony and portraits, I think it's worth thinking about when the light is the prettiest and when it's most comfortable for your guests. Sometimes you have no control over these details but if you do consult with your photographer.
Share two things you are really proud of…professionally and personally.
Many years ago I got in touch with why I do what I do: I want to capture my clients as authentically as possible and to reflect the love their family and friends have for them in my photographs. My clients have really connected with that sentiment and as a result I have captured some amazing moments. Not only has my business flourished because of these connections but so has my heart. When you’re a small business owner it’s not just work: it’s your life’s passion. When you grow beyond the bottom line, it’s an amazing accomplishment.
I moved to the Pioneer Valley about twelve years ago and couldn’t be happier. Community is really important to me and I do everything in my power to work with nonprofit organizations as my way of giving back to this place I call home. A couple of the organizations I get to work with are Dakin Humane Society and The Foodbank of Western Massachusetts. Both groups are really committed to what they do and I feel proud to be a partner toward their amazing missions.
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