Meet Kemper Mills Fant
Kemper Mills Fant is an incredible wedding photographer in the Roanoke Valley. Kemper would describe his wedding photography as romantic fine-art in appearance with a concentration on portraiture and photojournalism. If you’ve ever taken a look at his work, it really speaks for itself.
A Love of Photography is Born
I loved hearing Kemper’s story about his initial interest in photography. Kemper knew from the young age of 12 that he wanted to be a photographer. In fact he was already so passionate about the idea that he wrote off to colleges to get their catalogs, to learn more about their photography programs, and bought an SLR camera. Focused on his goal, Kemper attained a job as a local newspaper photographer working for free. I think this speaks to the fact that Kemper knew his passion from a young age and was willing to work hard to reach his goals. How many 12 years olds do you know that are already writing off to colleges for more information and willing to work for free?
After college, Kemper followed another career path but was drawn back into photography after digital photography became mainstream. Digital photography was appealing to him because it allowed him to produce an art quality print that he had control over from start to finish. Prior to digital photography he would have had to hand over his work to a print making artist or have access to a darkroom. Being in control of the creative process re-ignited Kemper’s passion for photography and he dove back in.
The Start of a Business
In 2004, Kemper decided to leave his career job and start a wedding photography business. Admittedly it was scary to leave the stability of a career and start his own business. However, a transition at his company allowed him the perfect opportunity to part ways and follow his passion. It was difficult at first to develop a reputation and break through in the industry. Kemper spent a lot of time introducing himself to local wedding vendors and attending wedding shows. During this time he visited and fell in love with Sundara, a local wedding venue. He reached out to owner, Patty Trostle and was immediately struck with how nice she was and how willing she was to speak with him. Shortly after, Kemper booked a wedding at Sundara and quickly built a relationship with the venue. From there he continued to create contacts throughout the industry and build his reputation.
There are many things that Kemper does well but he views couple portraiture as one of his strong suits. He is an engaging people person, which you can tell the moment that you meet him. He also has a strong understanding of emotion and body language. This gives him the ability to visualize portraits that are natural and do not look posed. He also has a great understanding of light and how to use light to create unique looks. In addition to photography Kemper is a watercolor artist who knows about color and texture and has an eye for composition. Something that struck me about Kemper was his dedication to photojournalism. There are many pretty details that can be photographed for a wedding. However, Kemper is passionate about his photographs not only looking pretty but also telling a story and capturing special moments that are meaningful to the couple. With his wealth of experience he can anticipate the unexpected to capture those truly meaningful moments.
Kemper’s work doesn’t end after capturing the couple’s special moments on their wedding day. He takes great care in the editing process to give all the photographs a cohesive look. This is not an easy feat given the diverse lighting you can encounter throughout the day.
Kemper’s Advice for Couples Looking for a Wedding Photographer
You can find a multitude of advice for couples planning their wedding but Kemper offers some great insight from the perspective of a seasoned photographer. It is important to dig deeper than surface level when choosing a photographer. The industry is flooded with photographers. However, not all of them have the experience or the eye for capturing moments and interesting photographs on the day of your wedding.
Social Media accounts can be deceiving because only select, chosen photos are being posted. Kemper recommends asking your photographer to see the complete portfolios of 2-3 recent weddings they have done. When looking through the portfolios, you need to be focused on a few things. First, did the photographer create a well-rounded portfolio? Are there only a handful of great pictures? Also, does the portfolio have a cohesive look? Finally, did the photographer capture a couple of pretty details or did they produce interesting photographs that capture meaningful moments and document the day?
Beware of styled photo shoots. Many photographers take styled photo shoots and produce beautiful images. This does not show their ability to take the same quality of photographs on your wedding day. When doing styled shoots the circumstances are ideal. It does not compare to a fast paced wedding day where there is a potential for things to go wrong. Furthermore, a styled shoot does not show you whether the photographer has the ability or the experience to anticipate the special moments you want captured on your wedding day. If a photographer has more styled shoots than actual wedding photographs you need to dig deeper.
Be careful when asking around for advice on which photographer to use. Many wedding planners have established relationships with photographers they always refer. This does not necessarily mean that they are good photographers. Instead ask other vendors such as florists or caterers. They know who the good wedding photographers are because they see their work and see them working. Kemper recommends narrowing down your choice for a wedding photographer a year in advance to ensure your favorite photographer is not booked on your wedding day. Although it really depends on the couple, he typically books weddings 18 months -6 months in advance.
Who is Kemper Outside of His Photography Business?
When Kemper is not doing wedding photography, he stays incredibly active. He is a fitness instructor at the local YMCA, teaching yoga and pilates. He also is into running (marathons and local races), hiking, and mountain biking. “When I’m planning my work week, fitness is a top priority. Not only is it fun but it’s good for my business. Anybody who’s ever had me photograph their wedding, they know that I’m all over the place and I don’t stop. It works out for me and it makes an impression on my clients and their guests" says Kemper. His other interests include his dog, friends, travel, and staying involved in the community. The Roanoke community is extremely important to Kemper. He serves as the President of Pathfinders for Greenways, this organization funds the building of trails and greenways in the Roanoke Valley.
I thoroughly enjoyed speaking with Kemper. He was so fun and easy to talk to and I can imagine how great he is to work with. Given that he is incredibly experienced couples can count on him to deliver a product that will not disappoint. If you are looking for a wedding photographer in the Roanoke Valley or one who will travel to locations such as The Homestead, Charlottesville, Richmond, Lynchburg, or Northern VA, look no further than Kemper Mills Fant. Thank you Kemper for giving us your time and allowing us to tell your story!
Visit his website for more information www.kempermillsfant.com
Written by Blake King