Ribbon Box Events Blog

March 8, 2011

Vendor Spotlight: Terra Dawn Photography

Filed under: Vendor Spotlight — by Ribbon Box Events, LLC @ 9:31 am
Tags: , ,


Today I’m pleased to introduce you to the one and only Terra Chandler of Terra Dawn Photography! A talented photographer, witty and intelligent, and just plain FUN! I’m excited at the chance to not only get into that brain of hers, but share it with the rest of you out there! Happy reading!

Say hello to Terra Chandler of Terra Dawn Photography!

1.  Describe yourself in three words:

  1. Nuts
  2. Book-worm
  3. Artistic

2.  Why did you choose to work in weddings/events?

I will be honest, when my sister first suggested weddings to me a few years ago I was pretty ambivalent. All I had seen up until that point was my parents wedding album and the super traditional work of some local professionals.  I was an ARTIST!!  I didn’t want to be boxed in by white dresses and roses.  My sister fixed THAT in a hurry!  She started sending me links to photographers like Jasmine Starr and Jose Villa.  I started to see that this industry not only offered me a chance to work with beautiful brides, but with fashion, portraiture, product photography, etc.  THEN I learned I could do all of this by being myself!!  I didn’t have to pretend to be a high end fashion photographer struggling to make ends meet.  I could tell terrible jokes, quote Star Trek on my blog and STILL make brides cry.

3.  What do you love most about your job?

THAT is a hard one.  But I think I love the people the most.  Although you meet a lot of great people in the fashion industry, they don’t stick around for long…and they certainly aren’t willing to let you pick their brain.  I love that in the wedding industry I make friends with my brides and grooms, make friends with the planners and florists…and host workshops (and GO to workshops) with other photographers.  It feels like a community.  Working as a photographer out of your home can be kind of lonely, but the wedding industry is always social.

Quick story: About four years ago, I applied for a summer internship with a top fashion photographer on the East Coast.  I just about jumped out of my skin with excitement when I was told I had gotten the position!!  This was a chance to learn SO much!  The night before I was supposed to start, I got a call from the receptionist who informed me that they had read my biography which had listed some of the jobs I booked in the past.  She said that “because you seem a bit more professional than we originally thought, we are going to have to turn you down for the intern position.  I’m so sorry…have a good night.”  I still don’t understand the point of the internship.

4.  What inspires you?

EVERYTHING!!  I love music and movies.  (“We Were Promised Jetpacks” is one of my favorite bands and recently the period piece movies “The Young Victoria”, “The Duchess”, and of course “Marie Antoinette”.  I am also pretty addicted fashion magazines, blogs, documentaries and museums.  I never know when I am going to look at something and it will inspire an idea or a new way to edit.

5.  Share one of the most memorable events you took part in and why it was so special.

I hosted my first workshop for photographers about a year ago.  My goal when hosting was to make sure the class was affordable for beginning photographers, inspired beginning photographers, and inspired the wedding industry.  I remember when I first started out a few years ago, I was just bombarded from every direction with opinions and inspirations and sure-fire ways to run a successful business.  I took notes and muddled through it…but I did it relatively alone and with a ton of mistakes.  I think maybe one of the most important things I can give back to this industry, is confidence and support.  I’m still in touch with every attendee from the workshop and love helping them work through their questions and problems.  It was special to me because I organized it…and it helped.

6.  Complete this sentence, “If I did not work in the wedding industry, I would…”

Be a vet.  I know I should be saying “Photographer of something else” but I LOVE animals.  Any kind of animal from dogs to birds to snakes to spiders.  I worked with the National Zoo for almost two years as a volunteer with the Cheetah Conservation Station and the Zoo Vet.  Animals have always been a passion of mine, and I hope to bring that back into my business this year.  Pet photography is probably one of my favorite divisions of my business, and I just haven’t had the time to put a lot of energy into it.  (You brides take up a lot of time!!!  😀 ).

7.  How would you describe your style/product?

Emotional.  I realize that everything I photograph has a strong emotion attached to it.  So when I edit my photos, I choose only those that portray the emotion I was trying to photograph.  When I pull the image into Photoshop I don’t just say…”Oh, that one should be Black and White.”  I look at the image and edit to match the emotion.  If the father of the bride is crying after seeing her for the first time, I make sure that THAT is where the viewer’s eye is drawn.  My job is to get the viewer to feel the same emotion I photographed.

8.  What advice would you give to brides and grooms on choosing a photographer?

First off, choose four or five photographers that appeal to you WITHOUT LOOKING AT THE PRICE!!!  Trust me, one of those photographers that you love will be in your price range or be willing to work with you.

Second, check out their blogs! Read them!!  You’ll get a really great idea of the personality of your photographer.

Third, make sure your photographer is willing to work with you. It’s your day, and you most likely have a pre-conceived notion of a few of the images you would like.  Oh c’mon…you KNOW there are a few images that flash regularly through your head.  What photo do you want to show your kids 20 years from now??

Fourth…and I can’t stress this enough, ask to see a whole wedding!!  Some wedding photographers are GREAT at one area of the wedding but severely lacking in the others.  The reception lighting is WAY different than the ceremony lighting and the ceremony lighting is WAY different than the getting ready lighting.  Make sure you approve their style throughout the entire day.

9.  What advice would you give to brides and grooms on the wedding planning process in general?

Wedding Photographers (and planners for that matter) are one of the vendors that get to work with nearly EVERY vendor in the industry.  You name it….we work with them.  Dresses, shoes, cake, venues, planners, dc’s, videographers, EVERYONE.  SO, if you are a little unsure of a vendor or are looking for a suggestion for a great vendor…check with the photographer! Many photographers keep a list of vendors to recommend.

Check their blogs as well.  If you see something on their blog you love, chances are they’ve linked to it there!

10.  Lastly for fun, if they made a movie of your life, which actor would you want to play you?

Hmmmm……you know, I’ve never been able to figure out who my Hollywood doppleganger would be.  BUT….I would be pleased with Marisa Tomei.  Anyone who can pull off floral print spandex (a la “My Cousin Vinney”) and still look amazing can TOTALLY play me.

Terra, thanks so much for chatting!

Want to contact Terra directly? Check out her website and blog, and fill out the contact form!




  1. This is my fav spotlight so far!!! Great advice here!!! I am already a fan!

    Comment by Lori Nansi — March 8, 2011 @ 9:40 am |Reply

  2. This…..was SOMUCHFUN!!! Thank you SO much again Tiffany!!! I can’t wait to work together again soon!!

    P.S. Did you see the Washington Post this weekend? Umm….cause Lindsay and Ryan were kinda in it. And they were kinda fabulous.

    Comment by Terra Dawn — March 8, 2011 @ 2:34 pm |Reply

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