I've been doing photography for almost a decade at the time of writing this. In that long span of time where I've been able to experiment, create personal work, and get hired for some amazing gigs, there was always something at the top of that bucket list of what I'd like to photograph--a wedding.
I feel like it's every photographer's dream (maybe not) to do a fun wedding that is outside of the city in its own little world: A tropical oasis, a forest getaway, beach-side paradise, the list just goes on. It was a dream come true when I finally got that opportunity to go out and photograph for a couple that trusted in me and knew that I was eager to give them the best photos imaginable. Going in, I had two objectives:
1. Tell a story. Like any documentary photographer, I knew something I wanted to incorporate was the passage of time and what it truly felt like every hour, in every corner of the venue. It wasn't going to be about just capturing nice, photogenic moments. This was going to be their story, told from my perspective, in the most genuine way I can.
2. Focus on detail. As simple as it may seem, detail can be overlooked. Pretty often, I might add. I won't toot my own horn too much, but I do think my eye for detail is at least above average. If anything, I feel like a bigger challenge for me is to take a step back and capture the bigger picture vs. zooming in on the small intricacies of a subject. However, the couple made sure to let me know that my detail shots in some of my other work is actually what made them want to move forward with me, so it was important I leaned into what I do best.
With those objectives in mind, I grabbed up all the gear I needed and made it to the venue, ready to start shooting. I could've been really nervous, but thanks to my girlfriend Maria being my second shooter that day, a lot of my nerves were calmed and I felt truly confident in what I was about to accomplish. S/O to her, because I would be shaking in my boots otherwise.
It may not be noticeable, but earlier that morning it rained A LOT. The night before was even worse, actually. There was a small chance this all could've went south very fast, but it felt like Mother Nature knew this had to go perfectly. In all the right moments, the clouds would open up and the blue sky would peek out for a bit before being shrouded in gray again. In the barn photo above, that's pretty close to how it actually looked for the majority of the day. I can't win 'em all, but I'll take what I can get.
I tasked Maria to stay with the girls while they got ready so I could come out and be with The Boys ™ . It felt right for us to split up in that way, just to make both sides more comfortable. We had walkie-talkies if we had to bounce around too, which helped during this period of the day where we were on opposite sides of the venue.
Those first few hours before things ramped up were so peaceful and calm. There was a lightness to it all, and you can see how relaxed everyone was before the ceremony. (Obviously the ceremony excites them just as much, but nerves come with it.) From the afternoon to around 3p, those nerves and jitters hadn't quite crept in yet.
This was also the time where we got some great detail shots of everything: the dress, the vows, the rings, the reception, and all the things in-between.
Something I definitely appreciated was having the Videographer Adam Stone (@adampaulstone) there whenever we did the memorable moments. We started chatting about our beginnings and navigating the freelance world. I mentioned to him that this was my first wedding ever, and he gave me so many tips and advice for not just the rest of the day but for any bookings going forward. For the rest of the day he helped me navigate the moments I felt a little lost and I cannot express my gratitude enough for having a helping hand when I needed it. He even let us try out his wide-angle lens on our camera, and now I think I need to go purchase one for myself.
I know what you really want to see, and yes we'll get to the ceremony photos in a bit (unless you just ignore all of this and scroll straight down, which is messed up how DARE YOU). There's so many other key moments before the ceremony, namely the first impressions once the Bride and Groom were dressed and ready.
In these moments, this is where I wanted the story to shine. We weren't there to pose anyone, only to guide as to where to stand if need be. Other than that, they have free range to do or go wherever they pleased. In doing that, it helps create the scene naturally and organically. Just how I like my food. Sorry, had to slip in that dad joke. That'll be the only one, I promise.
Next on the timeline was the First Touch, and that moment is in the top 3 moments of the day for me as the photographer. Any moment where the couple has alone time throughout their special day is so sacred and intimate. I wanted to make sure I gave them the space and quiet they needed while still capturing the feelings and raw emotions before the ceremony began.
As for what the other top 3 moments are--I'm sure you can guess one at least. It is the most important part of the day, after all.
With everything in place and all their family and friends arriving, it was time for the ceremony to begin. 
This is what the day was leading to, and this was also the time where I had to be on my A-Game, no matter what. No time to be messing around and experiment with different shots, I had to land every click. Their memories of this special day and of this special moment lie in my fingertips. No pressure or anything.
I haven't even acknowledged it yet, but I had two cameras on me: my tried-and-true Nikon D3300 with two different lenses (one being a Prime 50mm 1.8 Lens and the other being a 55-200mm) and my Pentax K1000 with Portra 400 film. I would flip between both depending on the shot I wanted to get, and above you can see the difference from the detail shots on my Nikon to the Film shots of the actual ceremony.
This isn't a camera op-ed, but let me just say this: the D33 series gets a lot of flak for being a "starter" series of cameras that typically get cycled out for bigger and better tech. I don't blame people for upgrading, hell I would LOVE to; however, I don't have the funds to go and just spend a few racks on something that would do the same thing this camera does. Honestly though, at this point I use it as a secret superpower. It's not about the camera, it's about the person taking the images and how they view a scene.
As the ceremony came to its end, I had to start planning the family shots. This was probably the only part of the day where I really felt nervous. I'm not a loud, extroverted guy (hence why I do photography) so it took a lot for me to try and turn that part on and gather everyone for the shots they wanted with the Bride and Groom.
I extensively researched how to best approach this part of the day and even with that, I know I could've been a bit more direct and improved in certain aspects. I'm not perfect, and it was my first time, so I'll cut myself some slack. The photos still turned out beautifully, so that's a plus.
Before we headed to the reception and enjoyed the rest of the night, Adam and I took the newly married couple to a secluded spot at the venue so they could take it all in without the noise.
Remember when I said there was another top 3 moment? This is THE top.
Once we got to the reception and settled into the night, the rest just played itself out. At this point, Maria and I had found our groove and we were taking photos left and right whenever we wanted to capture something happening.
It ended with a beautiful send-off as the married couple walked down an aisle of friends and family holding sparklers. We said our goodbyes and thanked the Bride and Groom for giving us this opportunity to photograph their special day. It was an honor and a privilege, and it always will be whenever (if ever) I get hired to photograph any other weddings in the future.
Enjoy the reception photos below, and thanks for sticking around and reading. 
If you have any creative ideas or would want to book me for your special event, contact me. I'm always ready to have a chat.
- Joseph
Back to Top