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Find a photographer who treats you like their most important client

We interview Alisha Tova, hipper than hip Chicago based wedding/lifestyle photographer about her start in the business and approach to clients.

What advice would you give couples who are just starting to look for a photographer?

Shopping around is a good thing, but also don’t be too bogged down with pricing packages. Ask for a full example gallery and how the photographer approaches a wedding day. It will really give you a sense for the right fit and vice versa. I also think it’s good to ask friends and family for photographers they like from events they’ve been to or on Instagram. Social media and word of mouth are two very powerful tools to help you narrow down your search!

Alisha’s photograph of Sammy and Dan

Will you share some of your secret sauce? What makes your approach to wedding photography unique?

For me, I’ve always been super customer experience oriented. Let’s be honest — there are a LOT of good photographers out there, but I think people trust my professionalism along with my creative talents, two things that are equally important. I do things like send over welcome gifts, offer free prints here and there, and take the time for handwritten notes. These seriously go a long way and are hallmarks of how I run my business. I always say, treat each client like it’s your most important job.

Alisha’s photograph of Sasha and Jeremy

What was the moment(s) you decided you wanted to do photography professionally?

I knew I always wanted photography in my life, I just didn’t think it could be my career. Out of college, I spent ~3 years at an intense New York startup where there were awesome learning experiences, but it totally sucked the life out of me. I felt so down about my work/life balance that I decided I HAD to do something I loved or else every day would be so horrible. Luckily, around the same time, the startup wasn’t doing very well and my office had laid offs, so the transition fell into my lap. It was the end of 2013, and I thought, if not now then never. So, I took the leap! It was terrifying, but looking back, it was the smartest decision I could have ever made.

What’s the hardest part of wedding photography? What’s the most rewarding?

The hardest part is remembering that it’s a business and you have responsibilities that you never thought you’d have as an artist. You have to manage your money, your assistants, and your clients. It’s completely exhausting at times and always a bit stressful. The most rewarding part is that if I feel like taking a personal day on a Tuesday, I CAN. Working for yourself really is the ultimate freedom.

What’s a piece of advice you’d give to the Alisha from 5 years ago?

I’d tell her it will all be alright. Keep listening to your gut. And stay out later without worrying so much about waking up to answer emails right away.

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