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Meet Sara Gardner of Sara Gardner Photography

Sara Gardner is a documentary wedding photographer in the midwest. Below are a few words about her process…

“My goal is very simple; document what’s happening. All of it. The little smiles, small embraces, big laughs, quiet tears, fingers intertwined, subtle glances, and first steps. None of these things will ever happen the way they happened today. I believe there should be proof that you laughed at that joke, said those vows, kissed that cheek, and cried those tears. And it should be captured in a way that is beautiful and full of feeling.

I would rather photograph you enjoying your wedding than tear you away from it. I will not be dragging you away from your wedding for constant photo ops. I prefer to be more like a fly on the wall, observing and documenting. With a little patience, all of the moments you want captured will happen on their own, and I will be there to catch them.”

Tell us about you and your story.

What is your background and how did you find your way to the wedding industry?

I did not become a photographer with the intent of creating something new. But rather, with the desire to capture what was already there. In 2012 I graduated with a degree in Fine Art from the Illinois Institute of Art with a focus in documentary photography. I have found a real passion in documenting weddings. Documenting the emotions of a day this big is such a joy for me. There is something magical that happens when you put the posing second. When you set aside the expectations of grand mountains and staged scenes, something real happens. Emotions happen. And then we realize that the mountains fail in comparison to the moments.

Share a little bit about Sara Gardner Photography's history.

When did Sara Gardner Photography launch? What are you known for?

I have been photographing weddings since 2013. In 2016 I decided to start my own company and have enjoyed connecting wth couples and capturing their weddings ever since. My main service is wedding photography. I am known for my laid back and relaxed documentary approach to weddings. My goal is very simple; document what's happening. All of it. The little smiles, small embraces, big laughs, quiet tears, fingers intertwined, subtle glances, and first steps. I would rather photograph my couples enjoying their wedding than constantly tearing them away for photo ops. I prefer to be more like a fly on the wall, observing and documenting. I believe that, with a little patience, all of these moments will happen on their own, and I will be there to catch them. I also tell stories of small businesses, families, and organizations. I enjoy documenting people who are fighting for something they believe in. People who are digging their hands into the dirt (literal or not) and looking to make a difference in the world.

What sets you and Sara Gardner Photography apart?

What's your secret sauce? What makes you different from everyone else?

I am very good at seeing the beauty in the seemingly mundane moments. I do not believe that life/weddings need dressed up and staged to be beautiful. I believe that to capture true emotions you have to step back and give people a little bit of space to breathe and feel. That the best "pose" is just to be together. And the best photos are the ones no one was aware of.

Tell us about your ideal couple.

Tell us about the type of couple that really clicks with you and your company.

The most important thing to my couples on their wedding day is that they ENJOY it. They do not want to miss out on experiencing their wedding. Second to enjoying their wedding, it is important to them that it is documented true to how it happened. They do not want their wedding photos to look like a styled shoot or like the last wedding they saw on instagram. They want it to look like them. All of the laughs, tears, jokes, and hugs should be captured. It is also important to my couples that their day feels relaxed. They do not want to spend their wedding day stuck in a bus, rushed from place to place.

What is the best advice you have for couples currently planning their weddings?

You've seen so many couples go through the planning process. Share your best pearl of wisdom for those just starting out with their planning.

ENJOY your wedding day! The night before your wedding, finish any last minute details and then LET IT GO. Embrace your wedding for what it is, instead of what you thought it would be. Designate a trusted friend or family member to be your day of contact and leave your phone on the charger. You will not enjoy your wedding day worrying about if the flowers will be delivered, or if the weather will hold out, or if the place cards will be lined up the way you imagined. Your wedding photos should show the joy of this day, not the worry or stress of the tiny details. In the end it will not matter if the centerpieces had more white than blush or that the signature drink was missing the lime slice. But it will matter that you enjoy your wedding day to the fullest.

What's the ONE thing that couples shouldn't forget to ask potential wedding vendors?

Spill! What's the single most important question that couples should ask before booking a vendor for their wedding?

It is important to ask to see full galleries of a few weddings when looking for a photographer. It is very easy to display the best (and sometimes curated) images on social media. So it is very important to look through a couple full wedding galleries to get a realistic expectation of what you will receive.

Thanks for stopping by Lakeshore in Love, Sara!

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