Another terrific year of weddings has past! I want to thank all of my couples who honored me in 2014 by making me their wedding day documentarian! I had wonderful bride and grooms once again, unique in their individual personalities, delightful love stories between each couple, terrific families and friends, and fun and interesting locations to photograph their weddings! Every year, about this time, I like to review the collection of images we captured, and select the ones that I thought have that “something special” to them, whether it be the story conveyed in a particular moment, a composition that is different or sets it apart from others, expressions that have emotional impact or an intriguing photo that just makes you just stop and stare. That is my criteria for the images selected here as my “favorites” for the year. I’ll list my comments below each image to share my thoughts. Of course, I would love for you to share any additional comments at the bottom of the this post.
GOING TO THE CHAPEL
Every bride knows this moment! There is no question how excited Kate is! The moment has arrived, there is no turning back! Accentuating the mood of the anxious bride hustling toward the camera, is the various expressions of the bridesmaids in the foreground preparing for their own entrance into the ceremony.
This moment of David and one of his groomsmen was minutes before the ceremony. David is clearly relaxed, happy, and confident as he is about to marry his beautiful bride Joni. He is about to enter a new chapter in his life. I get the impression that these two men have journeyed through life together, sat together numerous times, and shared many new chapters together in each of their lives.
Joni is seconds away from walking up the aisle and having her father put her hand into David’s. Like I often see with many of my brides, the impact of the moment came unexpectedly as the door attendant quickly fans Joni’s emotions.
I am alway photographing the scene of where the bride is getting buttoned or zipped into her dress. Many times this moment can be very similar to other weddings, so I am always looking for ways to photograph the scene uniquely. Out of nowhere, one of the flower girls comes pirouetting into the scene right between me and the bride, Chante. Was it a photo bomb? Maybe, but I love it!
NO PLACE LIKE HOME
The location of this wedding was at the residence of the groom’s parents, a beautiful log cabin in central California. When I saw Dustin sitting here, very relaxed in the living room he grew up in, I could picture him in my mind’s eye, twenty years earlier, sitting exactly as he was, only a little boy. I don’t know what was on his mind at this moment, but I could imagine he was flooded with memories.
NO ORDINARY DAY
Every once in a while, I can’t help myself: Yes, I am a documentary style photographer. No, this is not a documentary moment. When I saw this light and this window, I asked Andrea to walk over to it! What I didn’t know was how powerful an image it would become quite naturally! Andrea opened up the curtains and all I had to do was snap the camera’s shutter. Beautiful!
This was photographed in the beautiful atrium at the Royal Park Hotel in Rochester, Michigan. I have photographed many weddings at this venue, but this might be my most favorite of all. The lighting can be very challenging because of all the windows, but at this precise moment, it could not have been more perfect. As both mothers are helping adjust Andrea’s veil, and Darren leans over to kiss his bride, the light seems to be celebrating the moment!
IT TAKES A VILLAGE
The bride being helped with into her shoes is an image that I capture almost every wedding. As I said earlier, I always look for something different from one wedding to the next to give each couple unique images. What I love about this moment that sets it apart from other getting ready photos is how each of the bridesmaids actively were taking on a responsibility to help Carolyn with the single task of stepping into her shoes. More than that, compositionally speaking, I love how the girls body positions and arms individually and collectively form repetitive triangular shapes through out.
MEANT TO BE
To be honest, I get nervous when asked to photograph a couple in front of fireworks. They are difficult to photograph because timing is everything. The easy thing to do is have the couple stand in front of the colorful display and hold a kiss…to me that is rather ordinary (but I do it to be safe!) When Carolyn and Andrew began to dance, however, this magical moment happened! Yes, it took a little luck! The fireworks were not concerned about what we were doing! With Carolyn being twirled, the perfect arch of her arm, the touch of their finger tips and the very enamored expression of Andrew looking at his beautiful bride came together with this colorful blast at the perfect moment!
THE TREE OF LIFE
There are so many beautiful photos from Kristin and Jason’s wedding at the spectacular Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes, California. The day was perfect! I love this photo composition and the story it captures because of how the beautiful tree looms over the scene. On one side of the tree, Kristin’s father is walking his daughter around the pathway leading her toward the cliffside ceremony (the distant right) where she will be joined in matrimony to her waiting groom.
SIGN OF THE CROSS
Tanya and Nick’s wedding took place in an Orthodox Christian church in Detroit. What is striking to me about this beautiful moment of the bride walking into the church is how, not only are the crosses prominent upon the steeples of the church, but that there is a cross-shaped cloud in the sky, directly above Tanya. I also love how the sun perfectly backlights Tanya’s dress, setting her apart and making her the focal point of this image. Clearly it was a day blessed from Heaven!
SACRAMENT OF MARRIAGE
Having photographed more than 500 weddings in my career, I have come across many beautiful churches. What is unusual about this church scene from others, is how the priest stopped the couple about ten feet into the church. It provided me the opportunity to capture what I think is quite different from any other wedding ceremony I’ve photographed! I was able to stand up at the alter and photograph toward the entrance. I love how the open door provides a frame to silhouette the priest and couple with the beautiful arched ceiling and chandelier overhead.
STAIRCASE TO HEAVEN
Often times, when a bride and groom want to see each other before the ceremony, we set up a “first look” moment by hiding the bride and then bringing the groom into the scene where they will first see each other in wedding attire. When Thanh began climbing the stairs to her hiding place, this scene opened up in front of me! I could not grab my camera quick enough as the beautiful window light wrapped itself around Thanh’s beautiful dress. I love how feminine her posture is as she carries her flowers!
YOU AND ME
Shannon was a perfect bride to photograph! She was as excited and elated as a bride could possibly be! Almost every photo I captured of her was with a huge smile on her face, filled with glee! There are so many I could have selected for this post, but this one image encapsulates the day for me! She and Ryan are at the height of celebration. I love how the personalities of this couple are clearly depicted in this image! The delicate arch of Shannon’s arm and hand being guided by the strong posture of Ryan twirling his beaming bride as they celebrate their new life together!
I typically don’t like to show off my portraits in order to highlight my passion for documentary imagery. But this image is one of those once-in-a-lifetime type photos, I had to include it in my list of favorites! Chris and Mark’s wedding ceremony was up in northern Michigan in a country setting near a lake. On the way to the reception back in Traverse City, we came upon this sunflower patch and took advantage of its unique background. Even though the image is posed, I love the genuineness of the moment! What could be a better setting for a romantic moment of a happy couple looking forward to a happy life together!
Couples more and more choreograph their first dances, so I prepare myself for a dip at the end of the dance for every wedding. What makes this photo so appealing to me is the energy it conveys! When I captured the moment, I was a little disappointed that I was more behind the couple and could not see their kiss! But what I realized after seeing the image is the excitement that was captured from this angle because of seeing the great expressions of the guests faces and how much more important that would be for the couple to see!
At first glance, you might not see it. This is a rather ordinary moment of the bridesmaids getting ready and the bride, Francesca, getting finishing touches of her makeup. I do love the repetitious moments of each girl being helped by another, but the best part of the photo is Francesca’s grampa taking a snooze on the far left, oblivious of the beautiful young ladies around him!
I am not exactly sure of the length of this beautiful veil, but it has to be at least twenty feet! When I first saw Francesca’s veil, all I could think about is how can I find a moment that will capture it’s elegance. When I walked up the center aisle toward the couple on the alter, I realized I found that moment!
As I’ve said a few times now, when photographing a common scene that I see every wedding, I am always looking for something different. Often that means being ready at all times for anything to happen. That was the case here with Jaime holding the mirror while the her hairdressers set her veil. First, I love how glamorous Jaime looks. The photo reminds me of being in the dressing room of a movie star! But compositionally, like another one of the photos above, I love the repetition of triangles throughout the image: from Jaime’s arm holding the mirror, to the arms of the guy holding the veil, to the girl’s bent arm and elbow.
REFLECTIONS OF JOY
This may be my favorite photo of the year! Jaime and Geoff are exiting the church as their guests wait to greet them with flower petals. What makes this photo unique is not that you clearly see their silhouettes from behind with Jaime triumphantly holding her bouquet in the air! But if you look closely, you can see their joyous facial expressions reflected in the windows on the doors to their right and left!
A picture speaks a thousand words. Maureen’s eyes tell us her love story! She is gazing with love soaked eyes at her husband-to-be. Also notice the gentleness conveyed by the way her father is holding her hands for the last time before putting them into Nick’s hands. I love the look of satisfaction and approval that is clearly on his face as he, too, is looking toward Maureen’s groom. There is nothing like having the support of a daughter’s father for the man she has chosen to marry. I can only imagine how awesome the groom must have felt inside as he was seeing his gorgeous bride walking toward him.