Behind the Lens: Natalie Champa Jennings Photography
Welcome to another Behind the Lens post where I interview a talented wedding photographer whom I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with. Every photographer has their own distinct style so the purpose of this series is to help you choose a photographer whose style best represents you. Thus I want you to meet them not as “vendors” but as potential friends who just so happen to have the skills to creatively chronicle your special day in pictures.
Meet photographer Natalie Champa Jennings
The super cool lady in dreads is Minneapolis wedding and portrait photographer Natalie Champa Jennings and yes, her name sounds familiar because I recently featured some quirky, memorable weddings that she photographed, Terri & Lenny’s Jazzy Blue New Orleans Wedding and Megan & Steve’s Black, White and Music-themed Wedding (there’s more on the way!). I love her edgy photographic style and the unobtrusive way she tells a story with the images she captures as you’ve seen in the features, so I’m delighted that I can showcase more of her work and fabulous personality today. Please enjoy the interview!
* All photos on this page are copyright Natalie Champa Jennings Photography *
Hello Natalie! Please tell us more about yourself and your wedding photography business.
I have owned and operated Natalie Champa Jennings Photography for two years. I’ve loved photography ever since I was a teenager and have actively brought my camera all around the world for many years. I finally had the opportunity to dedicate some real time to grow my business and here I am! I left my career as a high school teacher and have enjoyed running this business so much since.
I work out of my home office in St. Paul, Minnesota. I am busy all year with weddings and portrait sessions. My time is pretty evenly divided up between the two and I wouldn’t change a thing! I love weddings: the energy, love, and excitement are always fun to photograph. Portraits offer a more intimate setting where I can get to know my clients easily one-on-one. It’s especially fun to follow the growth of newborns from the maternity stage through the months and years.
The quirkiest wedding you’ve photographed?
I’m not sure how quirky it is if you live there, but one of my favorite and different weddings took place in New Orleans, LA this past spring. The bride wore a beautiful royal blue gown with matching parasol in true NOLA style. The dress accented her many amazing and colorful tattoos. The ceremony took place in Audubon Park next to The Tree of Life, one of the most beautiful trees I’ve ever seen. It’s so large and graceful, a perfect place for a wedding.
The perfect wedding was complete with a traditional New Orleans marching band and second line where all of the guests danced their way across the park to dinner. It really was fabulous.
The most unusual or unexpected location you’ve shot a wedding at?
I think The Happy Gnome in St. Paul was one of them. It’s a wonderful bar/restaurant famous for it’s great whiskey and beer selections. The venue isn’t that unusual but the wedding itself took place in a major snow storm. The photographs turned out amazing and it’s one of my favorite unexpected wedding day surprises.
A wedding photography fad you will never follow?
As a photographer I don’t see myself getting into excessive photoshop work such as a black and white image with a color bouquet or extremely “Cosmo-like” bridal portrait touch-ups. It just isn’t my style.
I challenge myself to create beautiful images straight out of camera and do little to change them. Of course, a big part of my style is the occasional vintage process (making digital look like old film) but the integrity of the subjects and the lighting used is not effected by these processes.
However, never say never! I’m always open to new things and change.
Can you tell us what your wedding was like?
I am married to the best husband in the world, Paul.
Because Paul is from Scotland we were anxious to get the green card legalities rolling so we were married in a courtroom in downtown Minneapolis nearly 3 years ago. We were off the cuff, not even planning where to go afterwards (the Local, incidentally) but had a wonderful time.
Our big, fabulous Scottish wedding is in the works.
Barring budget, logic or reality, what would your dream wedding (to shoot) be like?
That’s a tough call. Obviously a killer location makes any wedding more fun to shoot, so an outdoor wedding somewhere amazing would be a start. But where? Gosh, there’s too many places to count!
As long as the couple understands that it can sometimes be a little work (walking, climbing, etc) for a great shot, anywhere can be wonderful. My dream weddings are the weddings where the couples know ahead of time that I’m willing to go the extra mile for a great shot and, anticipating this, they are too.
A book, movie or tv show you’d love to base a styled shoot on?
Anything 19th-century/early 20th, something out of an Edith Wharton novel for example.
Which celebrity or fictional couple’s wedding do you think would be a blast to photograph if you could?
Virtually any musical pairing would be fantastic. Musical instruments already add a tremendous amount of character to photographs, throw in a wedding and you’ve got yourself something amazing.
Quick, name 5 favorite songs off the top of your head!
Miss Ohio–Gillian Welch
Goodbye Porkpie Hat–Charles Mingus
Say it to me Now–Glen Hansard
First Day of my Life–Bright Eyes
Stardust–as played by Louis Armstrong
If you weren’t a photographer now, what would you be?
Well, hopefully a wildly published author or touring musician. I LOVE to write, read, and play music in my spare time.
I hope you all enjoyed meeting the lovely Natalie! The beautiful images on this page are just a taste of what she can offer!
If you want more info on this talented photographer, please visit the following pages:
* See all our previously featured weddings & shoots by Natalie Champa Jennings Photography
* Meet other featured photographers in our Behind the Lens interview series
* While you’re at it, do check out the site map to browse our real wedding/engagement/styled shoot features by photographer and by location.