Karen is the most published wedding photographer in the country, and her work accounts for over half of the images in the top three best-selling wedding books in the nation. Over 4,000 of her images have been featured in or on the cover of national publications, including InStyle, LA Confidential, Ceremony, Modern Bride, Home Journal, and Town & Country.

The Most Published Wedding Photographer in the Country

Wedding – Style

Early in her career, Karen French assisted some of Los Angeles’ top fashion and celebrity photographers which laid the foundation for her distinctive fashion/photojournalistic wedding style. She is an expert in capturing the beauty of her subjects.

Considered by many of her colleagues to be a “photographer’s photographer,” many of them choose Karen to shoot their own weddings. Karen has also been commissioned by entertainment, sports, and business personalities, and several of her weddings have been featured on the television series Platinum Weddings.

An Interview with Karen

After photography school, you assisted fashion, music and commercial photographers. How did you become a wedding photographer?

I was influenced by Annie Leibovitz’s work and thought about doing illustrative photography, but then I started assisting a wedding photographer. I really enjoyed it and decided that wedding photography would be my focus.

What was it about weddings that attracted you?

On a commercial shoot, the photographer usually takes cues from the art director—it’s about his or her vision and the purpose is to feature the product. Commercial shoots also have a coldness to them as no real bond is made between photographer and subject. As a wedding photographer, I’m more involved. I have to develop a rapport with the subjects and create an atmosphere of trust in order to capture the love between them. 

You have developed a strong Asian clientele over the years. About fifty percent of your couples are of Chinese, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, Korean or Japanese decent. Did you pursue this market?

Early in my career, I photographed the wedding of a Korean bride and she recommended me to a lot of her friends. I realized that I liked working with the Asian culture and wanted to develop this market in my business. I also got some great images of the first bride, so I used her picture in one of my ads and that resulted in a lot of calls from other Asian couples. I really enjoy shooting ethnic weddings. Some are very traditional, others mix in some western traditions. Wedding are full of rituals to begin with, but to experience and record those of other cultures are some of the perks of my job. I often feel like I’ve traveled to another country for a day.

How has your background in fashion affected your style as a wedding photographer?

I honed the art of posing and angling the face, which helps bring out the best in my subjects. I am often asked if my couples are models, and I’m very flattered by that question!

Are they?

All of the wedding images you see on my website and in my blog are of real brides and grooms on the day of their wedding.

What else do you do to make people look good in photographs?

My years in fashion also gave me excellent training in lighting. I’m always looking at light and how it fills a room or environment. For a flattering photo of a subject, it’s important that light strikes the face from the right angle. Also, different shaped faces do better with different types of lighting.

Wedding days are often hectic. How do you calm brides and moms—who are often in somewhat of a panic—so they are relaxed enough to take good pictures?

People always tell me how calm I am. I think my easygoing demeanor tends to relax everyone when we’re shooting the preparation and set-up photos. During the ceremony, however, I’m practically invisible. When my clients look at their photos, they’re pleasantly surprised by all of the shots they never realized were being taken.

That’s another thing you’re known for, taking great photojournalist-style images.

Yes. People usually think that taking candid photos is easy, but it isn’t. You have to anticipate what’s going to happen and be strong enough technically to take advantage of an opportunity when it comes along. You don’t have time to adjust your lens or exposure. If you see it happen, you’re too late!