Elisha Braithwaite is the type of photographer that can make anyone appear like a seasoned model. Warm and accepting, Braithwaite puts her subjects at ease in front of the lens, allowing her to capture them in an authentic light. Over her five years in the industry, Braithwaite has photographed weddings, elopements and local businesses. As a wedding photographer, Braithwaite showcases the unique relationships of each couple and personalizes each shoot to reflect that connection. Her photographic style finds the perfect balance between editorialized styling and honestly capturing intimate moments, so each image serves as a true-to-life time capsule for each couple.
To showcase her talent and work in our 2021 issue, we spoke with Braithwaite about her hands-on approach to photography, her unique editing style and favorite projects.
All photos are by Elisha Braithwaite.
All photos are by Elisha Braithwaite
UBG: Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I grew up in Davis County, studied fine art at Snow College, and started my business right out of college. I was at a turning point of deciding whether I wanted to intern for a fashion photographer and continue my art education, or stay home and explore some different options. I stayed home, met my now fiancé, quickly fell in love and started photographing weddings. That’s where I found meaning and fulfillment in using my photography skills to bring happiness to others through documenting weddings.
UBG: Tell us about how you got started in photography. What sparked your passion?
My interest in photography started when I realized there weren’t many photographers who offered hands-on guidance and direction. Growing up I rarely had comfortable photographic experiences. School, family, and senior portraits all felt assembly-lined where photographers offered little direction and expected you to perform like a model. I wanted to cultivate a hands-on photographic experience for everyone, especially “regular folks” so all could feel comfortable and have a positive experience. I got into weddings after falling in love myself and becoming more fascinated with other people and the different connections they had that were celebrated through their wedding.
UBG: You work in many different fields: weddings, portraits, landscapes, lifestyle and editorial. What is the full range of projects you work on?
My main projects are weddings, engagements and family photos. But I also work with a lot of small local businesses doing brand work. Unlike a lot of commercial work, the type of business photography I do really highlights the story of the business owner and the journey they’ve been on to find success. In my work both in weddings and the commercial field, people are inviting me to get a little deeper into their experience, and allow me to make something authentic to them.
UBG: How does your approach differ depending on the subject matter?
It depends on the project and client. My shooting and editing style for weddings is fairly consistent and I shift my posing style depending on what the client prefers. Some wedding clients prefer a more editorial look while most prefer a more candid documentary approach. My approach with businesses is completely different. Each business gets a customized photo style/edit so their branding photos are unique to their business.
UBG: Looking through your Instagram, your editing style is usually high in contrast and somewhat moody. How would you describe your aesthetic?
I gravitate towards light and colors that feel neutral and calming which is why I like a higher contrast, slightly moody or less vibrant type look. But I do want couples to look back and instantly recognize their wedding in the photographs. I try to keep the exposure and colors true to how it was that day. I try keeping editing to a minimum and don’t use presets to stylize my images.
UBG: Do you have a dream venue to shoot for a wedding?
My dream venues for Utah would be 4U Ranch and Amangiri. I love the colors and the feeling that they have created and cultivated there. I love River Bottoms Ranch as well; I would do every wedding there if I could.
UBG: Do you have a favorite or most memorable project, either wedding related or not?
Several years ago I photographed an elopement style wedding overlooking a rural part of the Grand Canyon. The couple initially wanted loved ones to join them but realized logistics would be difficult and ended up hosting a more traditional wedding at Under Canvas Zion by Cause We Can Events. The day after their wedding I hopped into their jeep and drove about six hours over rough dirt roads and boulders to a secluded spot overlooking the grand canyon. They exchanged vows and held the little ceremony they initially wanted. We took portraits up until the sunset and ended up camping overnight. These types of intimate experiences with couples are often the most memorable. I had another recent experience just like this where the couple brought me and their videographer (Shades of Jade) to Alstrom Point. We camped through a severe rain and snow storm, it was such a neat experience.
Recently I photographed one of my favorite weddings. The couple had a courthouse wedding ten years ago and skipped the celebration. The other night they held a ceremony above Deer Valley where they exchanged vows and rings in front of their three children. A rainbow appeared when the bride and her children walked down the aisle, badgers played in the background, and moose roamed around us from a safe distance. It was one of the more in tune with nature weddings I’ve ever done and it was full of so much emotion.
UBG: Do you have any upcoming projects or shoots that you can share with us?
I have a wedding happening in Northern California in August that I am really excited about just because it is so intimate. Everything is very personal to the couple, they are getting married in their mother’s garden which is usually a gathering spot for the whole family. I feel particularly important because the couple have told me they consider me as one of their loved ones, and they just want me to relax and enjoy the ceremony as much as possible. It’s those types of people that make me most excited about what I do.
UBG: What is one piece of advice you would offer an engaged couple?
I would advise them to stay true to themselves in their celebration, and I would advise them to be intentional in what they’re celebrating and why. I think so many couples get wrapped up in traditions, but it’s important to include the details that speak to your relationships. Find what reflects you as a couple, and infuse as much of that into your wedding day as possible.
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