Visions is constantly drawing new inspiration from the incredible vendors we’ve met over the years. One of our newest favorites is LA-based Docuvitae Photography!
We first got in contact with Docuvitae Photography a few months ago when we discovered an amazing photo of theirs on Pinterest. Our blog post Pins We Love: Docuvitae featured a stunning photograph of a breathtaking centerpiece. The exquisite photography immediately grabbed our attention and we knew we had to feature Docuvitae on our blog!
Docuvitae is a fine art photography collective based in Los Angeles. Founder Laura Kleinhenz has her roots in photojournalism, working in Central and Latin America with Time and Newsweek. Docuvitae’s website establishes a philosophy that “good photography tells a story, and every photograph should aspire to be art.” This comes across in her work. She shoots weddings and family portraits with raw emotion, capturing the deep interpersonal relationships of her subjects. This combined an eye for design and luxury produces quality photographs unlike any other.
Laura and the Docuvitae staff’s work hasn’t gone unnoticed. They have an impressive client list, with notable names including Kevin and Christine Costner, Diane Keaton, Henry and Stacy Winkler, and Chelsea Handler.
We feel so fortunate to be able to feature Docuvitae Photography on our blog. Recently, we got in contact with founder Laura to get her take on wedding photography, including some favorite memories. See what she had to say below!
1. “Good photography tells a story” is your priority. Do you have a favorite “story” to tell from one of your clients?
We have worked with so many incredible couples over the years, but one of my favorite weddings was in Healdsburg, CA in 2012. The groom’s family offered up their beautiful rustic property with a pond and the couple came up with the creative idea to have the groom ride a wave to the ceremony (he’s a big wave surfer). They painted a giant wave and mounted it to a floating dock so that he and his groomsmen could ride the wave across the water to the bank where the ceremony was held. It was definitely the most charming and creative groom’s entrance I’ve ever documented. The bride’s mother is Mexican, so she asked her uncle to officiate and at the end of ceremony, he actually fired a pistol in celebration (honoring the Mexican tradition of firing off a gun at the end of a wedding ceremony) and the guests fired toy guns in the air, too. Everything about this wedding was personal, sweet and joyful, including the ending of the reception when the couples’ friends crowd surfed them across the dancefloor. We are sharing a few photos from this event to tell this story.
2. During your wedding photography sessions, who is your favorite group to photograph? The bridesmaids or the groomsmen and why?
We don’t set up a lot of posed photographs, we spend most of our day focused on capturing found moments, but we always set aside time just after the ceremony with the couple. This is such a magical time and it’s one of the most natural times to photograph a couple. They are exuberant and joyful and it always shows in the photos. I think the more relaxed and connected a couple is, and the less focused they are on the camera, the better.
3. If you could do a photo shoot anywhere in the world where would you choose and why?
I wanted to get married in Granada, Spain, and since this didn’t come about I’ve wanted to shoot a wedding in Spain and to follow the couple through the winding, cobblestone streets in the old city of Granada.
4. We love your family photographs! How do you gather inspiration and ideas for those shoots?
The lives of my clients inspire me. My goal is to record what life in a client’s home really feels like. The pitter patter of little footsteps passes quickly and it’s my job not to just make a cute portrait, but to actually document both the tender, and even the frustrating moments when I spend time with a family. Some clients have me come once a year, some more often, especially if a sibling is arriving. It’s a gift to watch children grow and change each year, and this type of work is completely in line with documentary photography which I fell in love with as a young photographer, so it’s doubly rewarding as an artist. And now that I’m a parent, I also look for the little details that fade. The shape a wispy curl of a hair makes as a baby’s hair grows in, the crooked tooth which will later be erased by braces.
5. How did you get started in your career in photography?
I was very fortunate to have a photography class at my high school taught by a very cool, and inspired teacher, Byron Baldwin. And once I picked up that camera, I was hooked. I honed my photojournalism skills in college in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and spent a number of years after graduation moving around the US and the UK as well as Latin-America. I found a NY photo agent to help me sell my long-form photo essays and I shot assignments for Time, Newsweek, and the New York Times. In 2001 I moved to LA to try out shooting set stills, but decided that wedding and family photography gave me more autonomy and better suited my love of telling stories and documentary photography. And being that LA is home to so many creative folks, and talented visual artists who really value good photography, I found a few great clients early on and I’m grateful to say it’s been busy ever since.
6. We are gushing over the Napa Valley wedding photographs! Do you have a favorite moment from that day to share?
The Napa Valley wedding, I am proud to say, was shot by Rebecca, one of the principal photographers we represent at Docuvitae. She started out as our studio manager with a background in portraiture and commercial imagery and she quickly fell in love with the more free-form documentary style that defines the studio, and she simply took off as a wedding photographer. She now lives outside of California and we fly her back in for jobs, or she’ll meet me on jobs when I travel. She’ll be in Virginia and Mexico with me this May and June, actually. And some of my favorites from the Napa Valley wedding are the portraits taken just after the ceremony, on her Yashica Mat on black and white film. They are authentic and artistic, and so perfectly represent the couple. Everyone should have a portrait like this on their wedding day.