Profile-Rachel Gabrielse Photography


"Follow your dream. It may seem far off but if you work at it and believe in your work it will happen."

I have been a fan of Rachel's work for awhile. Her work seems to come to life in the most organic, timeless way. Makes sense that the individual behind the work is just as endearing, sweet, and effortlessly charming.

When you chat with her, you instantly feel like a friend (she would be your uber creative and artistic friend). I'm sure this comes in handy when wedding day jitters are at full blast for her clients. You can almost feel the love she has for the dearest moments in life which I think helps her capture candid, true images. 

We went to Rowster and drank some yummy coffee, exchanged stories, and chatted about some of the most heart-tugging moments she has had so far (grab some tissues and buckle up).

Where did your love of photography begin?
In 8th grade I remember telling my dad that I wanted to be a photographer. He was so encouraging about it. I got a job assisting a photographer. I would hold light reflectors and carry her equipment. When I was a junior in high school I started taking them myself and editing them too. I did my first wedding before I was in college.


Any intimidation there?
I was a little nervous…I had only second shot for a couple of weddings. It just started from there. I had 8 weddings a year, then 10 then 15, then 22, then 26…it continued to build.


Where did you go to school?
I went to Calvin and studied Communications along with Spanish and some art. It taught me the roots of photography.


What if your favorite part of being a photographer?
Weddings. The personal touches and non-traditional things that I have been able to see…there was a bride whose grandpa wasn’t well enough to make the wedding. We stopped at the nursing home to capture her being able to visit with him on her wedding day. Things like the mother son dance that turned into something completely different. The groom played baseball in college and grew up playing catch with his mom. Instead of dancing, they did what was meaningful to them and threw the ball back and forth while the music played.


(TEARS FORMING) Do you cry at weddings? How do you handle that cuteness?
I definitely cry at weddings…most weddings actually. Even though I’m the photographer it’s just as emotional when those special moments happen.


Any other tear jerkers come to mind? (I at this point was in emotional shambles…weddings are beautiful and anything borderline sentimental, I’m done for).
There was a dad who took the mic before the father/daughter dance. He told everyone how his favorite part of the day was her running into his arms for a hug. So, before the dance he asked her to run into his arms one more time.


Oh another one…there was a dad giving a speech at the reception. He pulled out a rock and said that his daughter had given it to him when she was 5. He told her that he always looked at it as a symbol of providing for her and protecting her so he kept it for her wedding day…he gave it to the groom.


Source(s) of inspiration?
My faith continues to be my biggest inspiration. Jesus is the ultimate creator…His presence is everywhere you look and so it feels important to capture that through photography.


What are some of your favorite things to do in your free time?
Spend time with my husband (sidebar: they are high school sweethearts!) or my 2 nephews and niece. Shopping, fashion, and we are involved in our church. Also, bike riding and letter riding-no one writes letters anymore so I like to make sure I am doing that.


Favorite place to shoot?
There is a gravel pit in Grand Rapids. There are these beautiful brown tones and great neutrals. The rock formations there were formed by lightning! Downtown walls are always a good idea too. I love utilizing places where the people I’m working with are comfortable and being themselves…like a coffee shop date. Anything that is unique or has great color and texture.


What do you think is something people don’t know or misunderstand about photographers? It’s really time consuming. You don’t just go home and upload images. There is a lot of time involved with editing, updating your website, sending and answering emails…there is always something you can b doing. I think that sometimes it’s glamorized. I absolutely love what I do but it’s a lot of nights and weekends. My husband is a teacher so our schedules are essentially opposite so there are definitely sacrifices when it comes to your schedule.


Local favorites?
Rosters, Lyon Street Café, The Downtown Market, Mercy Supply Company, Lamb Bride. There are so many local photographers that I love. A couple that I am always creatively inspired by are Alyssa McElheny and Jill Devries.


Advice for aspiring photographers?
Go out and shoot…be a second shooter whenever you can. The actual experience is huge. Follow your dream. It may seem far off but if you work at it and believe in your work it will happen.

rachel gabrielse photography sincerely ashley

Don't miss any of Rachel's beautiful work...

FACEBOOK: Rachel Gabrielse Photography
INSTAGRAM: @rachelgabes