But what if you’re given the weighty responsibility of capturing all of the memories, forever? Some people, like Don Mears and his wife, Lindsay, relish the challenge.
Don Mears Photography is the combination of the eponymous Don but also his wife, Lindsay. Together, they have been capturing beautiful marriage moments since shortly after their own wedding in 2003. Friendly, enthusiastic, and the lucky possessor of a talented eye, Don is RVA-famous for being a true artist behind the lens.
I had always loved street photography and photojournalism as an art form. That’s actually where I always saw my career heading.
Sometimes you just have to trash a few [Pinterest] boards, walk away, and let your brain reset.
I was never attracted to weddings as a career until after my own. Lindsay and I got married in the fall of 2003. It took us a while to find someone who shot the way we loved, very natural without a ton of interference–a photographer who let us enjoy ourselves and our families, but at the same time brought a creative edge. Looking back on the ceremony and the reception, it was so ridiculous how much energy and interaction happens at a wedding. If you’re into authentic moments, it was an amazing environment.
So, after the wedding Lindsay and I were pretty sure that we could shoot the way we loved, and there were a ton of couples who were searching for that exact same thing. It turns out we were right, because 12 years and almost 400 weddings later, we’re still getting invited to all these beautiful events. I hope that never stops.
Lindsay and I count ourselves as really blessed. We have two beautiful little girls, eight and five. We are full-time wedding photographers and have been for almost our entire marriage. We work and live right here in RVA. We have what you’d call this very real and normal life but get to do what we think is absolutely our ideal work as artists and business people. It’s insane to think that that 17-year-old kid that dreamed about being a professional photographer and here I am.
What effect do you think sites like Pinterest and wedding blogs have had on the industry?
Pinterest is a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that it gets brides in touch with the ideas and thoughts of fellow brides, the works of wedding vendors from around the world, and I think helps them move into a space mentally where they can plan out any number of wedding day visions from their smartphone or laptop. The curse is that there is SO MUCH information that it becomes overwhelming to them. We will get an inspiration board from a bride that has perhaps 15 unique themes, 100 individual pins of photos inspiration, and they almost break down trying to filter all the noise. It’s really hard but sometimes you just have to trash a few boards, walk away, and let your brain reset.
Wedding blogs I think have revolutionized the wedding industry. They really bring wedding style and trends in to the consciousness of brides in a way that national bridal magazines and television programming can’t. Regional and local blogs have, in particular become so valuable to the average wedding vendor and bride. RVA brides have their own thing going on and aren’t necessarily chasing every national trend. Blogs that feature local and regional vendors help to highlight the trends that matter here.
What are some things you think that brides and grooms worry about that they really shouldn’t?
We believe the best photograph we can create of you is one where you had absolutely no idea that you were being photographed. That’s why we try to get brides and grooms to enjoy their day. Just be yourselves and do what ever it is that you do. That’s where the magic happens for us. The less you worry about how you look on camera, the better you look on camera.
Who are some of your favorite local vendors? And why?
We believe the best photograph we can create of you is one where you had absolutely no idea that you were being photographed.
It’s so hard to pick favorites among wedding vendors in Richmond. It’s a great collection of people, not just businesses. I can say there are a few that stand out because of the uniqueness of what they do and who they are.
Morgan and Perkins at Paisley & Jade, with their wonderfully curated collection of furniture for rent, brought a style to Richmond that just didn’t exist until the past few years. Charla Bjostad at Pleiades Bridal is one of the most delightful personalities you’d care to meet, and her handiwork on vintage bridal dresses is stunning. But there really are so many great wedding folks in RVA, it’s impossible to list them all.
Tell us your very favorite wedding story, whether it’s a horror story or a moment of beauty.
We’re very light in the wedding drama department, but we have been witness to some very tender and uplifting moments. The one that sticks out to me is from a wedding a few years back, I believe it was 2008.
We had a bride whose father had become very sick with terminal cancer, and it wasn’t a sure thing that he’d have the energy to travel to the wedding, much less participate in any way. But when the wedding day came, he was there and he was able to dance with his daughter on her wedding day.
We captured every face and expression that we could find during that dance, not wanting one single angle to be lost. But there’s this one moment where she’s smiling so sweetly as they dance, and his eyes are closed but you can see he’s happy. You can see in that one simple moment their relationship and how they feel about one another. It’s sad and exhilarating and so, so powerful. And he passed away only a few months later.
It was the last time they danced together and we had the absolute privilege of being there. Lindsay and I both lost our fathers recently, which really drove home the importance of those memories.