As we prepare to ring in a new year and a brand new crop of amazing wedding clients, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the 2015 wedding season. It’s easy to mark my growth as an artist and a photojournalist by looking at some of my favorite images from this year below, but what is less apparent is my determination to get back to the roots that were responsible for LBP’s break-out success back in late 2009; meaningful relationships with the people I’m photographing.
I started this business because I loved weddings as much as I loved photography; I never spent an excessive amount of time dawdling in families, pets, newborns, or seniors because none of those would ever compare to the unpredictability and meaningfulness of wedding moments. To be entrusted with capturing these once-in-a-lifetime memories before they are lost in the barebones haze that I would use to describe my personal recollection of Sean and I’s wedding six years ago; there is no greater feeling of importance.
To this day we don’t have a side business like many other photographers; we JUST. DO. WEDDINGS. And we don’t have an associate to make extra money, because money isn’t the reason I got into this line of work and I don’t want to book weddings that neither Sean or I can be present for. What you get from LBP is a truly personal experience, and 2016 will see me hopefully not just continuing to improve on an artistic level, but really remembering that as well.
Once upon a time, I was a professional magazine journalist, and it seems there is one "Rule It's Okay to Break" in 2016 that wasn't the case back in 2005: research and fact checking.
Molly Guy is the author of the controversial article entitled "The 10 Wedding Rules to Break, "which went live on January 6, 2016. In her article Molly states:
“It made sense back in the olden days, pre–Facebook albums and Instagram hashtags, when the whole world didn’t have phones with cameras on them. Having the actual leather-bound album on your coffee table seemed like the only evidence that the whole thing actually took place. If social media is not your thing, why not scatter some disposable cameras around the party and let your drunken guests go to town? You’ll end up with hilarious and candid pictures without the pressure of 'likes.'”
Well I have a serious question for Molly: have you ever attempted to take a cell phone picture outdoors in the pitch dark? And I'm not talking from six inches away where your tiny, direct and unflattering, cell-phone flash might have a slim chance of reaching the subject, but from 15 feet away, which is where your closest guests would be seated in an outdoor evening ceremony? And yes Molly, people do have weddings exactly like this.
Now supposing a person with this type of wedding (which is common among Jewish ceremonies that usually take place after sunset) took this ignorant, ill-researched advice? They would have NO photos of their ceremony, as their guest pictures would be nothing but blackness like you see here:
Below photo taken at super-high ISO on a standard DSLR and on-camera flash:
Below photo is the BEST ceremony image the couple received from their guests, which was taken during the brief period of time when the fire was providing additional light.
Fortunately, this couple hired a professional experienced in Off-camera-flash (OCF) lighting (us), and these are our photos below. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I still think being able to actually recognize your faces during the ceremony is important.
But, perhaps, instead they had followed Vogue's disgraceful advice, and ten years from now, when their memories have faded to gray, all of the special events of their day would be gone forever. And as much as we like to think to ourselves at the time, "I'll never forget this moment," six years later the sad reality is that we do.
So even if Molly is suggesting the quality of the images doesn't matter, had she interviewed a single photographer before publishing this piece, she would have easily discovered the many possible scenarios where cell-phone and disposable-camera photos would yield no recognizable photos at all, and perhaps made the wise decision to leave this statement out.
While the advice regarding professional photography is the main point of the article I take issue with, it is worthy of mention that 80% of the other advice published is outspoken and vapid material that attempts to use shock value to garner attention.
Tell me, where is the value in making suggestions like, "Don't have a reveal," "Being hand-fed cake is disgusting," and "Having a first dance is bizarre," without offering a more modern alternative to said advice?" As you said, this is 2016 and I think by now brides are well aware that if they don't want to make an event part of their wedding, they don't have to – they don't need articles like this making them feel lame because they actually LIKE to ballroom dance, or they grew up picturing smashing cake in each other's faces like their parents did, or maybe they’d prefer more time on their wedding day spent with their husband and actually want to remember his reaction to seeing them in the "adorbs" wedding dress they spent $4k on to wear for one day.
Finally, with regard to the importance of quality, Vogue has made its reputation on the inclusion of stunning professional photographs. When the Vogue staff starts exclusively using cell phone photos taken by their friends and family members to illustrate the publication's pages and online articles, I will be happy to eat my words.
Patty and Jesse have it all. Not only are they drop-dead gorgeous, but they are playful, kind and extremely open-minded with an ideal and easy relationship dynamic. I enjoyed every minute of hanging out with them for this Longwood Gardens Winter Engagement Session.
I had never shot at Longwood this time of year before, but I knew something was up when I didn’t have to park a mile away because there were so few patrons there when I arrived for some daytime shots long before the Christmas lights display was set to commence. Things were a little “deader” than I expected for a garden of Longwood’s caliber, but I made it my mission to deliver a lively, colorful shoot.
With Patty and Jesse’s cooperation – they couldn’t have made that job any easier! - I’d say we nailed it!
As photographers we often look back on images from weddings we’ve shot and ask ourselves “what if I had focused on this instead of that?” Or “man, wouldn’t it have been cool if I had shot it from over here?” But I’ve never seen anyone actually get to try executing these theories because no one ever gets to shoot the same exact wedding twice.
While this remains true, Mary and Dan’s Egyptian Coptic wedding was as close to Reta & George’s as any two weddings I’ll probably ever shoot will be, and it was such an awesome experience and a unique opportunity to shoot two weddings for the exact same family at the same church and same reception venue just two months apart!
Both couples are among the sweetest, most kind-hearted people I’ve ever met, and I’m eternally grateful to have been given the opportunity (along with my awesome second photographer Jim!) to not only get to work with them and learn about yet another new-to-me religion, but get to know them as well. Thanks again, guys, and I hope you enjoy the photos!
For a South Jersey based wedding photographer, we sure get a lot of North Jersey and New York City brides. Jacquelynn and Dan really lucked out with the most beautiful, unseasonably warm Fall day for their Central Park engagement session. It had been years since I last had the privilege of shooting in central park, and while I didn’t miss the drive, the scenery was beautiful and familiar.
I’m really looking forward to Jacquelynn and Dan’s wedding at the Whitby Castle in Rye, NY, this April, and can’t wait to work with them again so soon!