Vendor Interview: Sandy McNay
Tell us more about Sandy McNay Photography:
When I was about 10 years old, my parents bought me a Jon Gnagy "Learn to Draw" kit.
I really wanted to be an artist and I tried and tried BUT, I couldn't draw worth a bean.
A bit later, in high school, a friend had a relative who was giving up his photography
darkroom and my friend wanted to try it but he had no place to set it up. So we got together
and set up the darkroom equipment in my basement. Then we went to the Berkshire Anthenum and
took out a book "How to Develop Film and Prints" . I soon realized that photography was more than my Mother's old clunky Brownie. Photography WAS art and thus began my career at a "serious amateur". This was way before computers and digital anything. There was a dizzying selection of films, film developers, printing paper and techniques.Believe it or not most pictures where never retouched or changed in any way and a photograph was the most real thing you could get.
From 1969 until 1982 I took my camera everywhere and developed and printed thousands of black and white photos. At the time there were 2 or3 traditional photo studios in Pittsfield, and one day I was walking down North St. and saw really nice little storefront with a "for rent" sign in the window and I thought I should open my own studio and try the new documentary 35mm style of photography out on an unsuspecting Pittsfield. So thus, late 1981, I quit my waiter job and on January 2, 1982, I opened my first photo studio at 438 North Street. North Street was doing well in those days and business progressed slowly but surely. I grew and moved and got better until today. I have over 30 years as a full time professional photographer and have shot over 750 weddings and thousands and thousandsof individuals and families.
What inspired you to shoot wedding photography?
When I opened my first studio on North Steet in 1982, I knew I was going to have to shoot weddings, and I had already shot 2 weddings for friends of friends as an amateur.I was a self-proclaimed professional photographer and while I knew al lot about cameras and photography, I knew little about weddings. BUT I knew I did not want to do the same boring stilted work some of the other studios were still doing. So I basically just did what always did, hang around with my cameras and take pictures, but at a wedding. Of course I had to take formal portraits which I did in a nice friendly but quick style. But people really loved the documentary and canndid pictures and REALLY loved the had made black & white photos I gave to every couple. I want the bride and groom to have fun and be as relaxed as they can, to actually enjoy their own wedding. Thus, the people can have a big love filled party and I get to do my thing which is taking pictures of everything and everyone, telling the story of the day. The story of the day always has a happy ending too.
What packages do you offer your clients?
In years past, photographers had a monoply of wedding photo albums and kept strict control of their images. Everybody had tons of packages because the goal was to sell
stuff to people. Now, with digital photos and online everything, everything is available to everyone. Now I really concentrate on the photography itself and serving my customers. The cost includes EVERYTHING, engagement portrait, wedding day photography, editing, adjusting and enhancing the images, online posting for viewing by family and friends, and transfer of the final high resolution images to the bride and groom. Thus the "packages" for me is really how long the couple needs me for. I have a set price for up to 7 hours or I can do an hourly rate.
What makes you unique from other photographers?
There are a lot of good photographers in the Berkshires today. Competition is tough and it's really difficult keeping up with the constantly changing world of digital imagingand internet offerings. So what I try to bring to every every bride and groom is a sense that they don't have to worry about pictures and they have a friendly partner to watch over them. After 30 years and hundreds and hundreds of weddings, I know a lot about wedding protocol and tradition, and about people, AND I am familar with almost every church, reception venue, clergyman, D.J., band, and florist. Working together we can make for a stress- free great day for everyone.
How far ahead do you recommend couples book with you?
The time to book a photographer is as soon as you decide you want one. I usually get hired 18 months to a year in advance, BUT I still have openings for 2013 and beyond.There is a flurry of activity after the Wedding Expo so anyone looking to hire a photographer needs to start NOW!
What are some tips you offer for couples writing their
“Picture Take List” for the wedding?
I tell all my brides and grooms that the pictures I take are THEIR pictures, not mine. I encourage them to give me as many ideas as they like, and to include as many events,or not, as they prefer. I want to embrace new ideas and take photos I've never taken before. I really love when the wedding is held some place different or unusual.I once shot a wedding that was held in a quarry and the pictures were dramatic. I've ok with lists, and looking at pictures the bride may have discovered as suggestionsfor shots she would like. One big piece of advice I give people is this, if the couple love each other, enjoy each other, and "be" with each other, I can't take a bad picture. AND don't worry about the weather.
Have you ever won any awards?
I have won the Best Photogapher in the Berkshires 3 times as decided by the Berkshire Eagle. I have participated in many showings at and have judged many print competitions at the Berkshire Museum Camera Club.
CONTACT Sandy McNay Photography