It’s that time of year when the wedding calendar for next season is filling up. In a few days, I’ll be at the Denim and Diamonds Wedding Expo here in Oneonta. Before we get there, I thought I’d write a bit about how I photograph weddings. To do that, I’ll take three of my favorite photographs from recent weddings and explain how they came together, the story behind the story.
The picture above comes from a wedding in late September, 2015, overlooking Otsego Lake from the terrace of the Fenimore Art Museum. Across the lake the leaves were not quite at peak color, but they were close. And it was cold. Middle forties, if memory serves, and much of the assembled crowd were rubbing their hands together, passing around hand-warmers. The groomsmen gave the bridesmaids their coats shortly after the ceremony concluded. The ceremony wasn’t rushed, but one got the sense that just about everyone wanted to get inside and enjoy a warm drink. At the back of the crowd stood yours truly, periodically snapping photographs, waiting for the big moment and wondering if the passing clouds would lend a bit of sunlight to the proceedings. In the briefest of moments, the sun came out and I was able to take only a few exposures before the newlyweds came down the aisle, looking for a warmer spot for formals.
I am partial to monochrome images, though of course the client’s preferences come first. Here, I was happy to deliver a black and white image with slightly muted contrasts. This was a small wedding in Cambridge, MA. The bride and groom rented a restaurant’s veranda and dining room. The bride’s floral head-piece, dress, hair, and bouquet, as well as her aunt’s hair, all seemed to glow in the late-evening light. A small moment among many at the reception, which was just getting underway, hopefully signified by the suit coats, out of focus in the foreground, framing the women.
And, finally, one of my favorite images from the last few years. No, it’s not the finest image I’ve ever shot, but it speaks to my favorite thing about weddings. Namely, for a little while, I get to meet a new group of people and work with them to make the lasting images they want. This was at the bitter end of the night. Nearly 11pm. The reception would continue on for some time, of course, but a few of the guests had begun to leave and the ties were coming off. It was July and a very hot day had turned to a humid night on a farm near Delhi. One of the bridesmaids thumbed through Pinterest for wedding photo ideas as I was packing up my gear. Someone had brought sparklers, she said, and did I have time for one more shot? We set up the trusty X100S and burned through the box of sparklers, spelling out the bride’s new last name, and, at the end, love.
It’s so much fun, being in disparate situations with wildly different brides and grooms, in wildly different cities. Farms, museums, restaurants. Always looking for the images that everyone expects, but happiest to deliver the images that surprise.