10 Questions with Clay Souza

WeddingRule Interviewed one of the most passionate and a highly sought-after wedding photographer from North Carolina, Clay Souza of Photos by Clay. Chapel Hill based Clay is the founder and photographer at Photos by Clay.

Photos by Clay

Photographer - Clay Souza

10 Questions with Clay Souza
  • Business: Photos by Clay
  • Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina NC
  • Experience: 8 Years
  • Photography Types: High School Seniors, Engagements, Family, Weddings
  • Profile: Photos by Clay
  • Website: photosbyclay.com

1. Introduction: What's your story?

My name is Clay Souza, I am a wedding and portrait photographer, in Chapel Hill, NC.

I'm originally from Brazil but have been living in the USA for over 20 years now. I've been photographing for over 8 years and every day I learn more about the importance of documenting people's stories.

I believe every photographer should understand the importance of storytelling. We capture moments that will probably never happen again. Sometimes they're simple moments for us, but extremely important to our clients.

As a wedding photographer I trained myself to predict moments, specially during the ceremony. It could be a child being funny, or an emotional moment between family members. It doesn't matter how small or big these moments are. Life is nothing more than a collection of moments that we will cherish forever.

2. How long have you been shooting weddings? How many weddings have you photographed?

We've been photographing weddings for over 8 years now. With more than 150 weddings under our belt, we've seen a lot. Each wedding is different and being able to navigate through other people's emotions essential in this industry. Providing an amazing experience is what we makes our job special. Our formula for success is great images coupled with an amazing experience. This is what keeps our business going and clients coming back to us year after year.

3. How would you describe your photography style?

At the end of the day, it isn't about my photography. It's about creating an amazing and unforgettable experience for our clients. But around our area in NC, we're known for bold and vivid colors. Our images have been described as timeless, exquisite, and painting-like.

The best part of our photography is that we can dial as much 'drama' as our couples want. Some couples immediately identify with our photography due to its bold and dramatic nature. Other couples like the bold colors and the veil tosses, but don't want as much drama, so we dial down the drama to a more balanced image. This actually has been a big factor in our success as wedding photographers. There's always something for everybody.

4. How well in advance should couples book their wedding photographer?

Well, the first booking should be the venue. That will dictate everything else. After the venue, definitely, the photographer should be next. Every year we get booked earlier than the previous year. For the past 4 years, we've been fully booked with weddings. Photography is probably one of the most important aspects of your wedding day. Think about it for a second. Flowers, music, and food are great, of course. But once the day is over, they're all gone. And what stays with you for the rest of your life? Yes, photography. Spend time choosing the right photographer for your wedding day. It is a big deal.

The months of September and October are always super busy with sometimes 6 to 8 weddings in the same month. That's why we advise booking at least 8 months to a year in advance. For the past 4 years, we've been fully booked very early. Even during the pandemic, we were super busy.

Of course, Saturdays and Sundays are very busy days of the year, but we're seeing an increase in the number of weddings on Fridays too.

5. What are the different packages that you offer and which one is your most popular package?

We offer primarily two collections. A 10-hour and an 8-hour. Both collections include 2 photographers (myself and my wife). These collections also include a 20-page printed album and our top collection includes either an engagement session or bridal portraits.

Now, about the albums. Don't forget that your wedding album is your first family heirloom and will be passed down through generations. If you don't think a physical printed album is important, I'd urge you to reconsider.
You don't really want to keep your wedding memories on your phone or computer. Just think about it a little bit. Computers don't come with CD/DVD drives anymore. This is old media and by experience, pen drives get lost all the time; and if things keep moving in the direction they are, USBs are also on their way out in a few years.

6. Are you the wedding photographer who will be shooting on the wedding day? Who else is there in your team?

Yes, I'll be the main photographer with my wife, Daniela, being the second photographer. Her job is to see everything I'm not seeing. One example is when the bride comes down the aisle. My job is to focus on the bride, whereas, Dani is focused on the groom and parents' reactions. When it's time for the getting ready, we split. She takes care of our brides and I take care of our grooms. This saves time and makes the entire process much more efficient and faster.

We've been working together since the beginning and have our specific functions on a wedding day.
Having two photographers is extremely important. A single photographer will miss moments, that's a sure thing and you don't want that. Remember, there's no do-over on a wedding day.

7. Do you charge a travel fee? For what distance? What does that cover?

It depends. We photograph weddings all over the USA and also internationally. If we can finish the wedding and can drive back home, there are no travel fees. If the travel time is too long to the point that we can't drive back home after the wedding, we ask our couples to book us a hotel where we can crash for the night. That's all.

8. Are albums or prints included in your packages?

Albums YES! As I stated earlier, we're very big fans of printed work. Wall art and small prints are available for sale.
All our collections include all usable files in digital form, high-resolution, fully edited, and not watermarked, and an album.

9. How long after the wedding will the couple receive the images? How will they be delivered?

It really depends on how busy we are. We have never delivered a wedding after 6 weeks of its date.
Sometimes we manage to deliver a wedding 2 weeks after its happening, which is very fast for this industry. But 4-6 weeks is our average delivery time. Still, very fast.

All our images are delivered through an online gallery. There's no limit on the number of times you can download the images. Why is that the best choice? Because it makes it much easier to share your memories with family and friends. All you need to do is to send them the online gallery web address and you're done. No more sending pictures through email.

10. What is your cancellation and/or refund policy?

We collect 30% of the total price with a signed contract to lock the wedding date. If the wedding gets postponed and we are available, there are no rescheduling fees.
If the wedding is canceled, the first payment (30%) is not returned since we have probably let another wedding go due to the date being already booked with your wedding.

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Awards

WeddingRule Editor’s Choice 2022