Photographer Chadwick Fowler goes from bands to brides
From the music industry to the wedding scene, photographer Chadwick Fowler makes art for a lifetime of enjoyment and beyond.
By Sondra Barr
In early 2000, photographer Chadwick Fowler never envisioned he’d be creating wedding art. He was too busy taking tour photos and shooting record covers for some of the biggest rock bands of the era including Limp Bizkit, Puddle of Mudd, and Korn. “It was the heyday of rock,” says Fowler. Fast forward to 2016 and Fowler and his ModWed crew are among the Valley’s most sought after bridal photography team.
Fowler’s transition to wedding photography was unexpected, even to him. But, after starting a family, it became clear he needed to figure out a way to work locally behind a lens. A friend suggested he help her out shooting a wedding and from there he was hooked.
“I’d only seen bad wedding photography up to that point,” says Fowler, who was reluctant to get dragged in to what he envisioned was one huge racket. But, what he uncovered was an industry in need of talented photographic artists with a sophisticated eye for detail.
After shooting two weddings, he was hooked and immediately went out and designed a business card. It was 2010 when he started ModWed and by the end of the year, his company was awarded Best of Weddings awards by both The Knot and WeddingWire.
“We’ve all seen our grandparent’s wedding albums and they are usually terrible. We cherish them because they’re photographs of our loved ones, but the imagery is typically horrible,” says Fowler, who draws upon his background as both a photo journalist and commercial photographer to create colorful yet emotional images of couples during one of the most important days of their lives.
“It feels better to look in on a romantic scene than to break that spell and have them looking at us and communicating with us,” says Fowler about his process that includes directing subjects in a way that looks and feels natural. “It’s the mark of a good photographer to put people at ease, to be able to see when they need direction and know they’re going to accept it and when to not say a word and go into more of a documentary style.”
Since opening its doors, ModWed has shot more than 150 weddings, including a number of incredible destination weddings. In a six-week span, Fowler and his crew went from shooting a wedding on a beach in the Dominican Republic, to one in the Redwoods, to one on an Alaskan glacier, and then traveled back to Arizona to shoot a wedding near the Grand Canyon before shooting a wedding in the desert. “That’s five distinct regions,” explains Fowler. It’s the wedding in Alaska that’s among his most memorable. “We weren’t near the glacier or in front of the glacier, we were on the glacier,” he exclaims.
For couples considering a destination wedding, Fowler cautions them to do their research before hiring a resort photographer. “It isn’t their profession, so you get very average photos at best, says Fowler. Horror stories of using a resort photographer abound and a lot of beautiful destination weddings have ended in tragedy as far as the couples are concerned when they get the photos back. “An average photographer can make an amazing place look average, but a really good photographer can make an average place look amazing, that’s the difference,” says Fowler.
“The only thing you get to keep after your wedding is the love of your life and the photographs or film. That’s it,” says Fowler, before pointing out that most wedding planners will caution you to spend a lot more than you planned to make sure you hire the right photographer or filmmaker.
The piece of mind a couple gets by hiring ModWed is priceless. Rather than leave anything to chance, Fowler and his crew always bring multiples of everything, from cameras to lighting to batteries. “There’s a high level of preparedness because you don’t get a second chance at this,” says Fowler, who personally consults with each couple and goes through a checklist to nail down exactly what their needs and expectations are for the big day.
“Budgets can spin out of control pretty quickly, especially when planning one of the most important days of your life,” says Fowler, which is why he’s careful to go over many different coverage options for the big day. “There are a lot of different ways a couple can use their budget for photos and film.”
Fowler can’t express enough the importance of wedding photography and an album that can be shared with future generations. “We live in a digital age where everything is on Facebook or Instagram, but they’re not going to be around forever. You’ve got to get these printed and tangible in a way that can be passed down for generations,” he says.
As for his former gig in the music industry, Fowler says there are more similarities to shooting wedding photography than you’d expect. “When a band walks off a stage at the end of a show, there’s a ridiculous high and energy, that’s exactly what it’s like at a wedding. You’re seeing a couple at one of their happiest moments. Who doesn’t love that?”
214 E. Roosevelt, Phoenix
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