Wedding Series

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As a wedding photographer, I obviously believe in love. I value marriage as a secure, binding, lasting phenomenon, that is an integral piece of our lives. When I photograph a bride and groom, I appreciate the love they share and have built together, and I thrive on creating art from their joyous excitement. Beneath the surface, I enjoy looking for layers of love throughout their wedding celebration. Often, the couples who have hired me share my beliefs about love and marriage, and I find the evidence of that very love in the roots that run deep through their families. I make a point to photograph the loving relationships within the bride and groom’s families because I know that is where the bride and groom have found such comfort and strength throughout their lives to this point, and where they will likely gain major support throughout their marriage. To me, a wedding is far more than a day of gloriously stylish celebration. A set of wedding photos should reflect the joy and principles that unite the bride and groom, paving a path for their love to grow for life. The cherishing, steadfast love I’m referring to can be found all around at a wedding, perhaps more than any other kind of gathering. How meaningful for a couple to find a collection of snapshots of that love mixed in with their wedding photos!

Throughout a wedding day, I will always take time to photograph the bride and groom with the parents or grandparents who have come to support, celebrate, and love them. That’s a given. In addition to those important photos, I will find time to photograph the parents and grandparents separately from the bride and groom. I love the sheer joy and pride that these precious individuals radiate in light of their beloved children’s wedding celebration. I also appreciate the love that flows between them, as they reflect on how far they have come to this point. They are joyfully reminiscent, celebrating the one who they likely remember vividly as a toddler who has now become a strong, confident, beautiful, accomplished bride or groom. These photos will be among the ones that find a place in an album or a beautiful frame for sure.

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It would appear that I have exhausted my list of very favorite moments of a wedding day, but I want to continue this series with some other moments and how I approach them. I won’t say that I dislike any moments of the wedding days that I get to photograph because really I don’t. Every second of these days is full of energy and beauty, and while I enjoy certain parts of the day explicitly, I find a certain satisfaction in finding that energy and beauty throughout my time working for each of my couples. Every part of a wedding day brings me some kind of happiness, believe it or not. Let’s talk about photographing the wedding party.

For me, natural is always better in a a photo. However, sometimes the definition of natural needs to be stretched… I admit that it’s just NOT natural for 10 or 20+ adults to stand really close together facing the same direction unless they are posing for a photo. But I don’t want just a photo of everybody smiling at the camera. (Well, of course I do want that, but I want much more.) So how can we achieve a “natural” feel in a large group photo? Bear with me.

The purpose in a bride and groom choosing bridesmaids and groomsmen is to surround themselves with their favorite people to help them celebrate one of the greatest days of their lives. The purpose of having these lovely chosen people dress similarly is to show the couple’s wedding style and to set the honored best friends and siblings apart from other guests. The purpose of taking a photo of all of these people together is to remember who all was in the wedding party and how they looked on that particular day. Now, let’s be honest. That is a sweet concept, but it’s not very natural. It’s a tradition which has a tendency to go awkward and cheesy really quickly. The key is to avoid being too creative. At all costs.

You see, I want to make sure my couples are having fun, so that when they look through their wedding photos, they will smile remembering excitement and joy. They won’t be embarrassed by any fashions that may have come and gone–no photoshop gimmicks or silly poses where the subjects are quite convinced they are “en vogue.” No. I don’t like that. Let’s save ourselves that humiliation, shall we?  The couple has already made it easy. They are surrounded by people who they love with all their hearts–ones who they think are beautiful, kind, and hilarious. That’s just it. I need to capture them being together, nothing more. What I want my couples and their friends and families to see when they look back over my photos of their wedding parties is true, honest, pure joy. Celebration, laugher, motion, anticipation, and sentimental gestures. They will see eyes and smiles. People. They’ll remember who was there celebrating with them on their wedding days, and they’ll remember why they chose those select few in the first place.


One Response to Wedding Series: Bridesmaids & Groomsmen

  1. Jaime

    “They won’t be embarrassed by any fashions that may have come and gone–no photoshop gimmicks or silly poses where they subjects are quite convinced they are “en vogue.” No. I don’t like that. Let’s save ourselves that humiliation, shall we? ”

    Amen to that sister! I whole-heartedly agree. Poised over posed, styled but not stereo-typed. You do such a fabulous job of that Buffy! Inspired by you more and more all the time 🙂

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This favorite wedding moment is kind of obvious, which isn’t usually my style… But who doesn’t love a bride and groom right after they’ve said “I do,” been introduced as the new “Mr. & Mrs.” and are walking back up the aisle as husband and wife? They see the glowing faces of all of those who have come to celebrate with them, and they can’t help but grin. Sometimes one or the other thinks to do some kind of celebratory gesture. Other times the groom can’t take his eyes off of his beloved. And then there are the couples who kiss spontaneously when they reach the end of the aisle. I love them all.

My priority as a wedding photographer is to create a set of meaningful and beautifully personal art work every time I pick up my camera. I’m shooting for the bride and groom first, but I’m also shooting for their families. I’m taking photos that will remind the couple of the love they share and the love that surrounds them. I want my photos to make the bride and groom’s parents proud to have cultivated an understanding of deep loving commitment in their children, and I want the couple’s future children to smile in comfort and trust when they stumble across these images in ten, twenty or even thirty years. This is my passion.

So it is for these reasons that I deliberately anticipate the moments throughout a wedding day that will shine with the love, kindness, and the couple’s intent to cherish each other always. Wedding photography is about more than just directing a beautifully natural portrait or documenting a couple’s style on film. In order to create timeless and pure imagery, I wait and watch intently for motion and emotion that will transcend style and trend–moments where joy trumps style and love overcomes any element of appearance. The bride and groom’s exit from the ceremony is one of those moments, without exception.

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Sunset. One of my favorite of life’s simple pleasures. The feeling that comes with a sigh after a big job has been successfully completed, a sweet hug when it’s been far too long, and a little something sweet after dinner… That is the feeling I find in the setting sun. A subtle relief and a pleasing light. And beside my husband is my favorite place to be when it comes. Quiet, still, content… But also exhilarated at the same time.

This is why I urge each of my couples to set aside ten minutes to experience the sunset together on their wedding day. To be still, be together, and be loved. The wedding day in its entirety is full of being celebrated, reminiscing on the moments that led to this one, and a rush of movement and emotions at the magnitude of the event at hand. Sunset is the perfect time of day for a bride and a groom slip away to somewhere quiet and just be. Along the way, the light is often perfect for a few amazing portraits together, so I unobtrusively suggest a few photo opportunities. Then the two embrace and watch golden-pink skylight turn to dusk. She rests against his chest and he rests his head onto hers. They close their eyes and smile with perfect contentment that this will be their happy place for years and years to come.

When my couples receive their box of wedding pictures, I want them to have memories and feelings associated with the photos. To me, wedding photography is about an incredible experience–something that deserves to be documented beautifully for more than just style and posterity. The memorable emotion is what turns a couple’s set of photos from a custom collection of art to a valuable piece of family history. Love, meaning, authenticity. This is what matters.


One Response to Wedding Series: a private moment together

  1. Lauren Carnes

    This is such a great reminder of the purpose of wedding photos! Absolutely lovely!

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A Collection of Favorites

Just before the couple walks down the aisle.

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You may have read my take on a bride getting dressed and a groom being photographed with his mom in the beginning of my wedding series. The next on my list of favorite wedding day moments is a broad collection that encompasses a variety of pre-ceremony moments. None of my couples are exactly the same, but they do all tend to value relationships and connections. They are a little bit sentimental, and they love emotive photography that speaks to the genuine memories they will have from their wedding days. I spend time getting to know each bride and groom who hire me for their photography. I like to hear about their families and friends and then tell them the sweet moments that I anticipate taking place as they prepare for their ceremony. My hope is that we can plan for these moments to happen in front of the camera, as organically as possible and in beautiful lighting.

As a fine art photographer, my approach is neither completely photojournalistic nor wholly posed. One of my favorite things about my job is anticipating important memories and then subtly making sure that I am in place to capture them. As much as I like to capture candid moments, I also like for those candid moments to be cohesive with the portraiture I provide: subtle, soft, genuine, and in beautiful light. Whenever it won’t kill the spirit of the moment, I will prompt imminent interactions, exchanges, and ceremonious traditions to take place where I like the lighting and framing. For instance, I might say, “will you stand there in front of that beautiful window with your sister and just spend a few seconds talking about today,” or let’s go into this sunroom before your mom places the veil on your head.” My favorite of these sweet pre-ceremony interactions are group prayers, surprise gift exchanges, celebratory toasts, and of course, the moment when the bride’s daddy sees her all dressed and ready to walk down the aisle–the anticipation, the joy, the disbelief that the time is here at last. It makes me teary every single time.

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I am excited about this series of blog post, not only because it allows me to show my clients what they can expect from start to finish in their set of wedding photos, but also because it allows me to relive some of my favorite moments from recent weddings. Last week I posted about the bride getting into her dress, so it’s only fair that this week’s post is devoted to the groom… Because my style is largely feminine with soft tones and textures, the groom and groomsmen intimidated me a bit at the beginning of my career. I like for my photos to look a certain way, and I take that too seriously sometimes. It was honestly a little annoying for awhile that groomsen acted goofy and were not as naturally graceful as the ladies. However, it didn’t take me long to realize that they weren’t intentionally being rude or irreverent; they just tend to celebrate these occasions a little bit differently.

The groom and his friends have usually spent a bit of time making themselves as dapper as can be, and they are usually feeling pretty good by the time I find them. They have somehow channelled an inner James Bond (or James Dean) and they may or may not know what to do with him. While they may act annoyed about being photographed, they really want to do it, and I find it quite easy to load a roll of black and white film and just capture the men being real and having fun together. Now and then I will ask the groomsmen to give the groom a bit of advice for his wedding day, which usually tends to elicit some hilariously genuine laughter, but often just a simple “be cool” will do the trick. Then there’s that imminent moment, when one of the groomsmen insists on doing something cheesy for a photo… I tell myself to lighten up, and we go with it, all in the name of having a good time. When the photos are printed and delivered, I want both the bride and the groom to remember how much fun they had on their wedding day. I want them to smile and remember what was going on at each real moment captured. My groom and groomsmen photos are classic, natural, and fun. And I’m proud to include them in each set I deliver.

However, I am a little bit stubborn (or maybe more than a little), and I have found a way to bring the groom back into that soft and beautiful style that I love (after he’s had his 10 or 15 minutes of masculine good times). When the guys have had their turn, I ask the groom to go and find his mother for a photo. And then, just like that, I’m back into the sweetness, because we all know that a boy and his mama will always be just that: a boy and his mama.

{Featured Weddings}

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