Today we're chatting with Alyssa McConaughey of Alyssa McConaughey Photography. She's a Newberg-based photographer who does incredible wedding and senior portrait photography! Her work is authentic, rich, and full of genuine emotion.
We loved finding out more about her process for serving her clients to capture these beautiful images!
Let's talk about your senior portraiture! What can a high school senior expect out of their experience in a session? Do you have favorite prompts or anything special you like to do to help clients relax?
Senior portrait sessions can be so much fun! We’ll pick a location and then spend our session times wandering around finding beautiful spots with magical light to take photos. I’ll definitely want to hear about how your senior year is going and what your plans are for taking on the world after graduation.
For posing and prompts, I always have to ask my seniors to trust me! Because I’m going to ask you to do some strange sounding things like sniff your shoulder or laugh at a tree. I also might have you do some silly things that help you move and laugh so you feel comfortable and confident. I also recommend bringing a friend or family member along if that will help you loosen up! I want your senior photos to look and feel like YOU above all else. Forget the trendy poses on Pinterest and Instagram… I want to take photos that show off YOU - your real smile, your interests, and who you are as a person.
You have some incredible portraits in your portfolio, particularly for couples and weddings. What drew you to that niche?
There are at least 100 reasons why I love photographing couples and weddings. I was initially drawn to photographing love stories because of how happy and comfortable people are with the person they’ve chosen. It makes creating photographs that are emotionally honest and connected so easy.
It’s an honor to get to come alongside a couple and see their deep connection to one another. Selfishly, there’s something about experiencing a piece of that love first hand that really speaks to me and adds depth and joy to my life. I also know how important my relationship is with my partner and how much I absolutely cherish all of the wonderful photos we have of us together. And of course, our wedding photos are so priceless to me. I love that I can give beautiful and meaningful images like that to people.
Also, weddings are SO FUN. They’re also crazy and exhausting. But wow, they’re so fun. I love how emotional and exciting wedding days can be. The way family and friends come together to celebrate is heartwarming to me every single time. I absolutely love being a part of it all.
What do you look for in making a photo that makes it compelling to you? You know that feeling of "hey, that has to be in my portfolio!" -- what makes that type of photo for you?
My favorite photos are ones that show an honest connection, expression, or emotion. And when that depth collides with a beautiful setting and the right light - that’s when a must have portfolio image happens for me. I want my photos to be both beautiful and rich in content.
What are three words you would use to describe your overall aesthetic?
Lush, honest, and simple.
What makes an ideal Alyssa McConaughey Couple?
My ideal couple is a couple that loves one another and is open to showing that on camera. I love working with people that come to me exactly as they are and trust me to bring out the best in them while we’re shooting together. My ideal couple also values the work that I do and the art that I create for them. And of course, they think I’m funny when I try to make them laugh for a photo.
But when all is said and done, my ideal couple is exactly who you are - nothing different. Nothing more and nothing less. Just you.
What portion of a wedding day is your favorite to photograph, and why?
Just about any part of the wedding day where someone might cry… and that’s probably going to be my favorite part to photograph! I love photographing moments like the mother of the bride helping her daughter put on her dress or best friends giving a heartfelt toast. Another favorite part of a wedding day is grandmothers. They’re simply the best.
I also absolutely love pulling couples away from their reception for some sunset/golden hour photos. It’s a nice breather from the big party and all the attention to a chance to sneak away for a few kisses in some beautiful light.
What is one of your most memorable moments as a wedding photographer?
For the last three wedding seasons, I’ve managed to get stung by a bee or bitten by a wasp at one wedding each summer. Before that first sting in 2017, it had been almost 20 years since I’d had a painful run-in with a bee - so it’s a little crazy to me that this keeps happening. Luckily, I get SO into shooting that I’ve been able to ignore the pain and finish out the day no problem. I’m hoping to break this tradition in 2020… someone tell the bees!
But for each of those bee stings, there are countless good memories from this dream job of mine. So many kind and generous families have opened up their hearts and invited me into such personal and sacred spaces. I’ve laughed HARD with dozens of wedding parties and cried tears of joy for my couples. I’m so incredibly thankful that I get to do this intimate and personal work for such wonderful folks year in and year out.
What is unique about how you serve a couple for their wedding photography experience?
I aim to be there for my couple’s every step of the way! Most of the people I work with have never hired a wedding photographer before hiring me, so I like to be open and available to answer questions and talk through things like day-of timelines. I want all of my weddings to be as stress-free as they can be and I’ve learned plenty of ways to help reach that goal.
I know I’ve talked about this a lot already, but I’m here for the emotion! I think my emotional range and sensitivity are a real asset to my work as a wedding photographer. I consider myself very emotionally aware, and emotions often run high on a wedding day for the folks involved. When I’m able to feel and relate to the things happening in the space around me, I’m able to not only respond in helpful ways, but to capture those feelings in an honest way. I’m drawn to emotions and things of significance like a magnet and that helps me take photographs that mean something to my clients.