Bridal photographer captures journey
When a bride hires Riley Jean Bibey as her photographer, she should prepare for cardio because Bibey is ready for any adventure. With her Southern Oregon business, Riley Jean Photo Co., Bibey’s laughter and activity accompany the couples she guides through their wedding journey.
Bibey utilizes the time leading up to the wedding to form emotional relationships with her clients, so she can accurately portray their love in photos. From planning to shooting to editing, Bibey keeps their journey and her own in mind every step of the way. Her attention to detail means she helps a couple plan anything from accessories to candle color long before the hours photographing them in the woods or along the Pacific coastline.
Bibey’s clients can discover her artistic style through the progression of her developing catalog of work. Her website’s galleries exemplify the various manifestations of this today, but her Instagram highlights this progression with a smooth timeline of Bibey’s body of work.
With photography, each distinctive subject allows an artist to adjust and change her style to include slightly different aspects of color or light over time. Bibey’s work demonstrates an artistic adaptability and breadth of expression that attracts couples to her services. Her body of work shows soft, romantic shots, playful shots, detail shots, sweet, intimate shots, golden-light-filled shots and dynamic shots against stunning natural backgrounds.
“Your clients follow your journey as a photographer,” Bibey said. “You also are going on your own personal journey through art.”
Bibey’s journey includes meeting with clients who enjoyed her creative family sessions, portraits options and senior photos. Some may remember her in-home sessions or fascination with the color green. Now, most know her for traveling all over the Pacific Northwest to capture what she describes as the wildly in love.
While her professional title may be an engagement, elopement and intimate wedding photographer, Bibey wears no small number of hats. Few other professions require someone to be a therapist, set designer, location scout, stylist, cheerleader, hype-woman, interpreter and more all at once. Bibey does more than gleefully take on these titles; she advertises them.
Bibey says she is available, whether this is for combating midnight stress, choosing floral arrangements or gushing over cute kittens. She reciprocates her bride’s investment in her.
“It is so clear from the first time you talk to Riley that she’s just a light in this world,” Danielle Johnson, a fellow Pacific Northwest wedding and elopement photographer, said. “She’s welcoming to everybody, extremely friendly and just feels like an old girlfriend right away. I know this has a huge impact on her clients because I know how much she genuinely cares about them and wants to serve them wholeheartedly. She’s just a sweetheart and such a positive presence in my life!”
This desire to know and understand others may be what makes her photography so valuable to her clients. After all, every bride wants to feel understood by the person capturing their wedding day. Bibey is able to see and capture a couple’s unique personality by building a connection centered around their distinctive relationship.
This talent for connection was clear to many around her, but its utilization for photography took time to become apparent to Bibey.
Although fascinated with her gift of a bright blue point-and-shoot camera at a young age, Bibey never thought photography could be a profession, just a hobby for working on yearbook or taking pictures of her friends through middle school and high school.
But, after high school, a friend requested Bibey photograph her wedding, an event she described as utterly terrifying. This first wedding came with an overwhelming sense of responsibility. She was surprised at the ultimately positive experience that sparked interest in wedding photography, but she was wary of pursing an artist’s career.
Bibey decided to step back from photography to attend Umpqua Community College where she earned an AA/OT. Meanwhile, she took photography classes and began to focus on photography as an artistic outlet.
Bibey then attended a photography workshop with professionals in early 2019 and realized photography could be a realistic career. She began her business in May of 2019, watched it grow substantially over that summer and officially gained an LLC in December of 2019.
Thanks to strong support from clients and social media, Bibey’s business began to boom. Despite some setbacks caused by the coronavirus pandemic this year, Bibey continued to meaningfully grow Riley Jean Photo Co.
With time, practice and growth, Bibey’s initial fear caused by the responsibility of wedding photography subsided, and the excitement set in.
“I never forget that I am responsible for that person’s memories,” Bibey said. “It is never something that falls on the wayside, but you do get into a routine. I used to get butterflies in my stomach before every wedding like pins and needles. As I have moved on and done more weddings, that has faded a little bit. I am not quite as nervous.”
Bibey focuses her art on a niche subject, elopements and intimate weddings, with a uniquely natural yet colorful and joyful presentation of her couples.
Bibey captures the essence of a couple with techniques like using prompts instead of poses to bring out the active, genuine connections felt in her art pieces.
For example, Bibey guides couples into memorable photos using words of encouragement and slight directions to create authentic moments. She may tell a couple to walk away from each other and then comeback in as if they were trying to bump into or surprise one another. On a shoot with a model couple, she had them read mock vows which became a dramatic reciting of modern pop songs that resulted in a giggling crew and photos capturing the couple’s candid reactions.
Bibey strives for this natural candidness in her work.
Bibey also personalizes each session to the particular couple’s relationship, and she encourages them to take whatever steps necessary to make their wedding feel like their own creation. Bibey explains that a wedding should fit the couple whether that makes it traditional in a church or nontraditional on a mountain.
“A really important part of my brand is breaking barriers with couples and making sure that they know that they can make this day whatever they want it to be,” Bibey said. “I feel like it goes hand in hand with my style and the kind of joy that I bring to my work. It is this fun idea that you can do whatever you want.”
Bibey also has pioneered her own styled shoots with the help of local businesses, vendors and artisans, which she explains further in her video interview. Despite styled shoots being a hotly debated topic within the photography industry, she champions them as inspiring to couples and for artistic expression. Her art always seeks to convey natural connections, and she takes the same approach to every session whether styled for a client or shot during an actual ceremony.
“She is definitely a woman who knows what she wants when it comes to work,” Daylin Bibey, Riley Bibey’s husband, said. He often assists with shoots. “She does an amazing job whenever I’ve seen her work. I don’t have that eye, but she can explain it to where I can see it. So, I always think it is incredible that she can do that.”
Bibey is still navigating being a professional artist and owning a growing business.
“It’s been surprising. From just the perspective of being in middle school and having that camera, I didn’t know what kind of art you would create with a piece of machinery,” Bibey said. “I learned that you have to have an eye for certain things. It is not just picking up the camera and clicking some things. It’s a perspective. It has been interesting to see how perspective can grow and change.”
Ultimately, Bibey believes she is only in the middle of her growth and senses the cusp of greatness for her photography business and artistic outlet.
“My business is about my couples, but there also is an element of art and creativity to it that very much belongs to me,” Bibey said. “These photos belong to the couples when they are delivered, but after that, for years and years later, they still belong to me. It is this piece of unique art that I hold for all of these different people. It’s a really powerful thing that I would have never thought about in middle school or high school.”
For photography tips from Bibey please visit “3 Ways to Shoot Santa on Christmas Morning: Holiday Photography Tips” by Faith Byars.
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