While 2020 put a big damper on large-scale weddings, those of us in the industry who have been doing elopements for years leaned into our previous experience and offered clients thoughtful and meaningful small wedding experiences. Those of us who are nimble and worked weddings from 2-200 were able to meet and help marry new couples who changed plans and tacked into the micro-wedding world. Enter Kristy May Chatalain, micro-wedding photographer, savvy business person, mom, and…wait for it: former Fulbright Scholar who studied in Germany! We have a lot of smart people in the wedding industry, but she’s the only photographer I know with this distinction.
This creative kitty made her way to NYC from New Orleans, earned a master’s degree at the School for Visual Arts, and assisted a top National Geographic photographer. We know that NYC is a jungle, and Kristy is ready to brave the wilds of pandemic love and events!
Kristy photographed 37 weddings in 2020 (did we even have that many weddings in 2020?), and as she will explain below, she often wears two hats at a time at work.
Please enjoy getting to know my friend and colleague, Kristy May!
How did you discover your talent?
I discovered my love of photography when I was in high school and began photographing family and friends. I loved shooting black and white film and making images in a community darkroom. After working as a photojournalist for several newspapers and magazines, I started my own wedding photography business in 2009. While I no longer photograph with film, the film aesthetic and capturing real moments is still part of my style.
How did your business blossom?
I’ve been blessed with clients who refer me to their friends and I love getting referrals. I also created excellent SEO for elopements in NYC on my website to attract clients from overseas and outside the area.
Do you work alone, or do lead a team?
For small weddings and elopements, I tend to work alone. For more traditional weddings, I always bring an assistant and usually a second photographer to provide the best coverage possible.
What is your process with wedding clients before the wedding?
Since details can change between booking and the wedding, I always send a questionnaire to get the photo portrait list and to confirm details. With my wedding clients, we also have a call about 4-6 weeks to run through the day in depth and with their planner as well. The more we can communicate before the wedding, the less we will need to on the day of which means I can focus on capturing moments. I can also trouble shoot potential issues before the day.
How did you adapt during the pandemic?
Because I already photographed elopements and small weddings, I doubled down on making content for couples looking to get married safely during the pandemic. I even registered as an officiant to make things easier for couples since the NYC Marriage Bureaus are still closed. I was both photographer and officiant at 13 weddings at the in 2020, something I never imagined I’d do!
How do you continue to grow as an artist?
I continue to grow as an artist by investing in education, networking and myself. I’m always looking for inspiration outside of the wedding photography world and love to travel to new places. Finally, taking the proper time to recover from the busy season keeps me from getting burnt out and ready to embrace new ideas and experiences.
You can find Kristy May here
And the interview we did together here!