There are events in life that only happen once. Circumstances change, babies grow up, time passes, and our record of how things used to be becomes invaluable. Having a good photographer is that important.
I see the power of this nostalgia even in my home, an evolving work-in-progress for my husband and me. The house was built nearly a hundred years ago, and in the basement, there are initials drawn in the cement pad of the five children who lived here before the house belonged to us. This record isn’t even mine, but I can feel its small, everyday significance each time I pass over it. The simplest expressions are often the most durable, the most beautiful, and seen through a camera’s lens, take on unexpected resonance. These are the same principles that inform my photography.
As a wedding photographer, I work hard to get to know a couple, from how they fell in love to what they hope for their future together. Our relationship builds from the engagement session through the bridal and boudoir portraits, up to the day itself. By the time we get to the actual ceremony, we’ve had drinks together, laughed together, and discussed the special elements of their event. The best weddings are wildly personal ones, carefully curated to tell the story of the couple getting married. I want to honor that in my photographs.
Part of a couple’s story is their family; all families are unique, and that’s never more evident than on a wedding day. I want to know who belongs to the bride or the groom, who gets along and who doesn't, what’s special about each person in the bridal party. On the wedding day, I call each family member by name; I know why the popcorn maker is going at the reception, why all the groomsmen are wearing plaid socks.
All this personal connection makes for a genuine ease around my camera, which leads to images of people as they really are. I always think of one couple, after their ceremony, standing just outside the church doors as the last strains of their music faded, before their guests filed out to greet them. The groom went to kiss the bride and caught a tear tracing down her cheek. It was a private, very romantic moment, just between them. I captured it, but I didn’t interrupt it, or intrude. Their level of comfort with my presence made it possible for me to almost disappear, and this moment will always be a part of their wedding album.
My intimate approach to photography flows out of my larger life. I seek out what’s singular, repurposed, one-of-a-kind. My letterpress business cards are printed on recycled cardstock, and the album boxes my clients receive are entirely handmade, a combined effort of my husband and myself. Our home is filled with vintage treasures given strange new lives. We grow our own vegetables in raised beds built where only poke salad and ivy once thrived, and we cook at home far more than we eat out. Inside the house, you’ll find salvaged-wood walls and ombre stairs stenciled with numbers through 13.5. Our downstairs guest bedroom is home to the sewing machines I use to make our drapes, pillows, table linens and shower curtains, and the cubby-style coffee table in our den does its best to hide the bead-containers that come out whenever my husband sits me down for the latest horror movie I just “have to see.” I make honeymoon jewelry for all my brides as a surprise gift on their wedding day. This personal touch is my hallmark.
Being chosen to document a couple’s wedding is both an enormous honor and a massive responsibility. There are no second chances in this business, no instant replay. Only thoughtful preparation and intense attention to detail can put a shooter in the right place at the right time. Scouting a location where I’ve worked before, I try to see it with fresh eyes at the exact time of day it will be used, looking for the best light, the best spots for that particular season. This advance preparation builds my enthusiasm for making a unique experience. And because I’m prepared, weather and disasters are never a problem, but rather just another part of the day.
I form deep and loyal bonds with my clients, and I want them to include me whenever something exciting is happening in their lives, from family gatherings and celebrations, to the births and first steps and first school days of their children. Now that I have two daughters of my own, I feel especially honored to photograph these extraordinary times in the lives of others, as well as the more ordinary ones of sagging diapers, grass underfoot, and the pure joy of a spoon, when nothing else will make a baby smile.
Some families, I see a couple times a year, and I’ve been lucky enough to watch many of their children grow from infants to toddlers to small people with opinions of their own. When I arrive at their homes, the children themselves lead me through their rooms, their routines. By the time I leave, I might have muddy knees and dog slobber on my jeans, but I know I’ve done my job. Because at the end of the day, if somebody wants to show me who they really are, no matter who they are, I’m ready. Simple as that.