A Conversation with The Wedding Format

Dave and Mariah Poyzer are a husband and wife who specialize in wedding-based photography. They both have a deep appreciation for quality, as well as a high value for doing  things with great care and excellence. They utilize all forms of photography and are basically photography wizards. 

The Poyzer’s are the kind of people you’d want to be friends with if you weren’t already acquainted with them. In the best way possible, they're products of their Midwest upbringing: kind, warmhearted, and gracious. It’s no wonder they’ve found success. 

Last week, we sat down at Mars to discuss their photography, their personal style, and how they keep the bride and groom calm on the big day. They were also nice enough to email me some of their latest work. Take a look below! 

Based on what I’ve seen of your guy’s work, your style has a warm, candid feel to it. How did you decide on that particular style? 

Mariah: When I go into a wedding day, I intentionally want to bring peace and joy. I think that because there’s so much anticipation and so much money that's on the line, people get can stressed very quickly. We try to remind the couple that it's going to be a great time and that at the end of the day they're going to be married. And trhat's a big deal! 

As for our style, I think it came from our personalities and what we like individually. I wouldn’t a want photographer trying to manipulate and maneuver every little detail about myself. That's awkward! So I would never be comfortable interjecting myself in that way. 

Have you seen other photographer’s make the wedding day more stressful for the wedding party?

Dave: A lot of people can make a wedding day more stressful - photographers, vendors, and even family. So we take the opposite approach and ask ourselves how we can make a wedding day more relaxed and more enjoyable. 

I’ll often tell people on their wedding that they’ll be spending more time with us than with anyone else. Letting them know that beforehand helps us take a more relaxed approach right from the very beginning. We believe it's their day and they shouldn't really be doing anything except enjoying it.

Do you find yourselves mediating in situations like that one you just described? 

Dave: We definitely advocate for the couple. After the craziness of family pictures, we take the couple and just get pictures of them by themselves. In the first few minutes of being off by themselves, you can see them going from being completely stressed-out to really enjoying their big day. 

How did you guys become interested in photography and how did you decide it was a viable career option?

Mariah: For as long as I can remember, I've enjoyed photography. I never thought that it’s what I would do for a career, though. In high school, I didn’t take any photography, but I was always hanging out in the photo-lab and I learned a little bit about it all secondhand.

It wasn’t until I started dating Dave that I really became more interested in the art behind it all. Dave has always done a lot of photography and video work, so it was just a natural progression to learn it myself. Even our dates would turn into little photo outings. We didn’t really do anything else together! (Laughing)

Dave: I don’t know how I got into, except that I've always loved cameras. I think a lot of it comes from loving the process of film photography and film in general. It’s a fun challenge to recreate what you see, I think. 

As far as getting into it as a career, I did a lot of production work while I was still in school at DMACC. Myself and two others guys produced a show on PBS and after three seasons of that show, I quit so I could work full-time on freelance because I had work pilling up.

On a normal day, do you find yourselves looking at life through a lens?   

Mariah: I often look at things and think about the hue or the color that I’m seeing. I’m always paying attention to color balance and white balance! When it comes to digital photography, what kills me is that the color is not realistic a lot of the time. When it comes to film, though, you can capture things so much better and the color is much more natural. 

With Des Moines being voted a “top city for young professionals” have you found it easy to locate a community of like-minded people closer to your age?

Dave: There’s a ton of awesome people here! I’ve got so many friends here who do similar things to what I do and it’s always fun to do it alongside them. A lot of environments can get really competitive when it comes to businesses, but it’s not like that here. I've found people to be very generous here. 

Mariah: I like Des Moines because of the people. I think life is really hard without community - both business-wise and personally - and we have that community here. Based on my experience, it’s really easy to find good community in Des Moines. 

You guys work together, but you’re also married. How is it working as a husband and wife?

Dave: We have people who ask how do you not kill each other? But that’s not a problem at all.  I grew up home-schooled and my dad worked from home often, so our family was together a lot. So this feels like kind of a natural thing for me. 

Mariah: The most challenging part is to stop talking about work - to go out to dinner and not go there in conversation. Taking a step away from business is the hardest part. But we like to be together and we’ve found a balance that really works for us.

What’s a piece of advice you wish you’d known ten years ago?

Dave: Don’t work with bad clients. On freelance projects, it’s important to turn down the customers you should turn down. But you have to learn that the hard way.

When you start out as a young freelancer, you’re going to be cheap and the people looking for cheap work are the hardest people to work with.

Mariah: Something that I’ve learned is to be more giving of time and resources. As we were trying to figure all of this out, I remember wanting to hold on to “business secrets” to protect our brand. We were, obviously, trying to grow our business and if you find someone else is doing something similar to you and becoming successful doing it, it’s easy to become frustrated and even jealous. But that’s so not who I want to be as a person.

Early on we just decided to be giving and forthcoming with people. If someone asks us for help, we’re going to be helpful. Maybe it’s not the best thing to do in business, but I’d rather be honest and have my business come across as who I am rather than be successful on someone else's terms. 

If you’d like to learn more about the Wedding Format visit their website here. Thanks again to Dave and Mariah for taking the time to sit down with me.