Founding Principles: Crystal Lily Photography


Welcome to our recurring blog series, Founding Principles, in which I share interviews with the founders of businesses featured on Plan with Purpose, and their sources of inspiration, planning tips, and ways for us all to be part of positive change in the events industry.

For this interview I chatted with Crystal Lily of Crystal Lily Photography. A wedding and lifestyle photographer, Crystal Lily provides good vibes for progressive souls who live and love by their own rules.  Crystal Lily also believes in spreading the love, so a portion of profits go towards helping nonprofit organizations in areas that support women, youth, animals, and mental health

Here, Crystal shares why she loves her work, her frustrations and hopes for the events industry, and planning advice for couples.


Plan with Purpose: What was your inspiration for starting Crystal Lily Photography?

Crystal Lily: I have always had a camera and I was always 'that friend' taking pictures at birthdays and gatherings, but I ultimately had two sources of inspiration for doing it for other people. One was a fellow photographer I admired and when I found out she was completely self taught I thought 'wow, maybe I could do this.' The second source of inspiration came after I had a negative experience with a photographer I hired for a session who was also self taught and fairly successful. I kept thinking that I would never want anyone to feel the way I felt during a photo session and I wanted to give people great experiences and that's what I've strived to do since 2015.


PWP: What do you most enjoy about your work? Any major "lightbulb" moments that let you know you were on the right track?

CL: I LOVE hearing from clients after they've seen their photos when they tell me things like: "No one's ever captured our emotions or personalities like that," or "I can't believe you got a real smile out of my husband!" I absolutely love being able to give people those kinds of moments and I feel really lucky to be able to do it.

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PWP: What was the best or most creative event you've been a part of? What gave it its special sauce?

CL: I would have to say probably the first big party I shot for a group called Girls Love Travel. It was in 2015 in LA and there were around 300 women who came from all over for this in-person meetup that had been organized in a Facebook group for women who love to travel. It was so amazing to see so many women come together and form new connections and photographing it was so much fun!


PWP: What most frustrates you about the events industry, and how do you hope it see change?

CL: Since I primarily photograph weddings I'll speak to that. I'm not a fan of the common narratives that say things like 'your wedding day is the most important day of your life,' that it's all about the bride, or that you even have to do things a certain way. Your wedding is an important milestone, yes, but it's not the single most important day of your life and the narrative that focuses on the wedding, rather than the marriage needs to change.

The bride-centric aspect is also frustrating, because grooms look forward to their wedding day too and now with marriage equality, not every wedding even has a bride! I'd really like to see things focused on couples rather than just the bride. And the idea that a wedding has to be done a certain way is frustrating, because a lot of things are antiquated and unnecessary to many modern couples. People shouldn't have to worry about hearing the opinions of others if they choose to do things in their own way by skipping or adding things that work for them and highlight who they are and what they believe.


PWP: What's your favorite part of a party (gathering, event, etc)?

CL: Dancing! I looove all of the dancing and it doesn't matter if it's good or bad, because when it's time to dance, people are having fun and that's the only thing that matters. It's all about celebrating the good vibes and I love capturing people with all of their moves so they can actually see all of the fun when they look back.


PWP: What's your #1 piece of advice for people planning events?

CL: Do your research. There is so much information out there and there are a lot of vendors to choose from. Do your research and don't choose someone solely based on price. Consider the quality and what each vendor does not only for their clients, but also for others. Planning an event creates a huge opportunity to give back in so many ways so I encourage people to make it all count.


PWP: What's a common mistake you think people make in planning their events? How can they avoid it?

CL: Over estimating how much food they need and ending up with a lot of waste. Look for vendors who are focused on sustainability and minimizing waste. I promise they're out there! If you can't find vendors close to you who do this, reach out to places outside of your town or city that do work to reduce waste and ask for advice on what you can do to help minimize it. You can even get in touch with a local shelter and ask if you can donate any leftovers to feed those in need rather than throwing it away at the end of the night. We waste so much in the events industry and it makes me cringe.

Nicole Fleischner