A Closer Look at The Wiebners.
The Wiebners are a husband and wife photography team based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Both have a strong history in the industry. Joel graduated with a Bachelors in Fine Arts with a concentration in photography, while Rita was self-taught. After dabbling in camera retail, school portraits, and local entertainment magazines, they decided to start their own business in the fall of 2000. They tried to break into the nature field and also did portrait photography before realizing that wedding photography was the best match for them.
“It wasn’t until 2002, when we were convinced by some friends to shoot their wedding, that we really started to find ourselves,” says Rita. They quickly realized how much they loved wedding photography, and decided to make the switch. “The first few wedding seasons were done while we were both still working ‘regular’ jobs,” she remembers. Rita made the leap to full time self-employed photographer in 2004, and Joel joined full time in 2006.
Rita and Joel Wiebner believe in having an open mind each and every time they shoot. “We really pride ourselves on creating a unique product for each of our clients,” says Joel, “No two weddings are the same, so the photographs shouldn’t be either!” The Wiebners get inspiration for photos from their clients. “We feed off of what our clients do and how they naturally interact with each other and us,” shares Joel.
The Wiebners love making their clients happy by providing the full “experience” from start to finish. They believe in providing quality customer service, a unique vision in photographs, superior products and packaging, etc. “It’s worth all our trouble when a client says that we’ve captured the best photos they’ve ever had of themselves. That’s a great moment for us,” says Rita.
For years, people have been asking the Wiebners to classify their style, but they have difficulty ‘labeling’ their work. “We just do what we do,” says Rita, “We are just two souls who like to capture life and love. We do it in our own way. A little of this and a little of that. Creative portraits, captured moments, found portraits…it all comes together.”
The Wiebners’s tagline, ‘Your Love Inspires Ours’ is perfect because is describes how much they love wedding photography and each other. The two have a strong relationship and are able to work together successfully, which is important because they are together so often. “Rarely will you see one of us, and not the other,” knows Rita. But the couple couldn’t be happier about that. “We are very thankful to work together on something we both love so much,” she says. “Sometimes we try to out-do each other,” states Joel, “but there’s nothing wrong with a little friendly competition!”
According to the Wiebners, getting to know their clients is the most important thing when preparing for the big day. “We become friends with our clients. We joke around. We get them to trust us,” says Rita, “Building these relationships is really the key to our success.” The Wiebners encourage all their couples to do an engagement session, which allows them to further build a rapport with the couple. This year, about 75% of their couples have signed up for an engagement session. “We call them our ‘double dates’,” jokes Joel.
Staying informed is another way the Wiebners prepare for their weddings. “We like to keep informed of what’s going on in the industry,” shares Rita. The Wiebners visit many websites and blogs and forums. They try to attend at least one convention and one tradeshow per year. “It’s important to know the latest and greatest if you want to stay ahead of the game.”
When it comes to favorite camera equipment, Joel sticks by his 35mm f1.4. “He shoots with this lens 95% of the time,” says Rita, “It is priceless to him.” Rita also loves the 1.4. She is between lenses right now, but plans to get a 24mm f1.4 very soon. “I just love the juiciness of the 1.4,” she laughs.
Rita and Joel appreciate many different styles, and therefore, love the work of a number of photographers. Some of the favorites include Huy Nguyen, Image is Found, DQ Studio, Alt-F, and Jesh de Rox. “We also look outside of wedding photography, and love the work of Gregory Colbert. He has an amazing exhibit at www.ashesandsnow.org,” shares Rita.
The Wiebners are based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, but service all along the East Coast, including Baltimore, Philadelphia, Washington DC, and New York City. “We love to travel to destination weddings outside this area, but have to limit our travels since we have two small children,” says Rita, “Our time with them is very valuable and precious to us.”
The Wiebners are excited about where the industry is headed. “Wedding photography as a profession is becoming much more acceptable as a career. It’s on the verge of being ‘cool’ even,” thinks Rita. The Wiebners are also happy to see wedding photographers becoming more creative with their photos. “We love the direction things are going,” she says.
Rita and Joel Wiebner have a number of exciting plans in their future. First of all, they are starting to look into expanding their baby portraiture. “We have really fallen in love with babies over the last couple years and want to pick up that side of the business,” says Rita. They have a lot of ideas for the little ones, but don’t want to give too much away.
Just this past summer, they leased their first studio space with plans to expand into more portrait work. Ideally, they would like to limit the number of weddings they shoot to 20-25 per year. They plan to extend their relationships with couples past the wedding date, and into anniversary and baby portraits. “We are very excited about the future of our studio,” says Joel.
The Wiebners are also interested in becoming involved in educational seminars and conventions. “Last month, we held our first workshop here at our studio,” tells Joel, “and it was a great success!” The Wiebners will be offering another workshop in October this year. (Visit www.wieblabs.com). “We love sharing our knowledge with others!” she says.