Why would a black and white Colorado wedding photojournalist be covering a wedding at Great Oak Manor on Maryland’s Eastern Shore? I lived in Washington DC for 25 years and still go back to the area a few times a year for couples who find me through referrals. But in this case, a bit of history was involved. Not everyone feels comfortable hiring a photographer from half way across the country, but I think I understood why Michelle seemed confident about me. As she told me, she still likes looking at the pictures I made when I covered her first wedding.
As a Denver documentary wedding photographer, I make a lot of photos of peak action, little explosions of emotion, or a glimpse of quiet intensity. But they are moments, fleeting, nonetheless. There are other pictures made in moments of transition, where what makes the image is not a specific act, but a moment of revelation. These images are harder to talk about, as the point is not so much what is happening, but what the image is about. Trying to describe that leaves one in a situation where words are concurrently far too few and far too many. And still they miss the point.
When Shalaya and Stephen contacted me about their wedding at the Sunrise Amphitheater in Boulder, I was pretty excited. I had photographed a wedding on Flagstaff Mountain before, but this time the wedding and reception would be up there. As a Boulder wedding photojournalist who likes to work with natural light, I was glad we would never have to leave the magical remove of the mountaintop. It was also a bit of a heads-up as to what kind of couple they were. Everything outdoors, on picnic tables, with a down-to-earth vibe it would be hard to replicate elsewhere. And the dress code was Mountain Casual. What in the world is that?
Marc and Thatch met and work in Washington DC, but they have a small home in the West Virginia mountain town of Lost River, where they got ready before walking about a mile down the road to the Guest House for the wedding and reception. There was an easy familiarity to them, like they’d known each other for decades. A quiet, simple ceremony gave way to a fairly wild evening. While I do LGBTQ wedding photography in Denver, I’ll travel anywhere for black and white documentary wedding photography. Love is love.
Although I’m a Denver wedding photojournalist, it seems only half of my documentary wedding photographs are made in Colorado. I was especially honored to photograph Stephanie and Nick’s wedding in New Orleans after photographing her sister’s Virginia wedding a few years earlier. I like it when I get to photograph multiple weddings within a family. Things are both familiar and new, and when everyone greets me like an old friend I feel all mushy inside.
Cristi and David had a Sunrise Amphitheater wedding high above Boulder in a bit of a drizzle, going down the hill to their wedding reception at Chautauqua Community House, at the base of the Flatirons. The surrounding cottages and streets don’t look like they’ve changed much from the 1930s, and the reception had a timeless feel to it. As a Denver wedding photojournalist, that timeless feel is something I’m very happy to encounter.
Nicole and Chad were a blast to work with. As a Denver wedding photojournalist, I did an engagement session with a documentary feel with them a few months earlier, which was unfortunately interrupted by the police. While the day of their wedding was not free from drama, it was without exception the very best kind.
The art photography magazines Fraction and Fisheye recently featured images from my Private Fears series. Curators Lisa Woodward and Mia Dalglish of the Pictura Gallery describe the series as one of their two highlights from the Denver Month of Photography portfolio review a few weeks ago in this blog post. Director Kat Kiernan of the Panopticon Gallery and the magazine Don’t Take Pictures did so as well in her highlight reel from the same review. I’ve been working on the project for about two years and have only recently begun to show it.
This project has nothing to do with wedding photography, but does give some insight into who I am as a photographer and where my emphasis lies, regardless of the type of work I’m doing. I am first and foremost a storyteller, and no two stories are the same. Authenticity is important to me, as is working in what is considered to be documentary photography. I don’t describe myself as a photojournalist or documentarian because it’s a trendy way to market myself to shoot weddings. It’s my background, my parallel life, and how I approach everything I do with a camera.
Michelle and Nick could look out their living room window and see their wedding site, Coohills restaurant in downtown Denver. Actually, the wedding was on an old steel trestle bridge over Cherry Creek, only a few dozen feet from the restaurant door. They were down to earth, sharp-witted, enjoyed a pint, and wanted natural Denver wedding photography. We got along just fine.
Lauren and Gregg are two of the most amazing people I’ve had the pleasure to work with as a Denver wedding photojournalist. I had flown out to Washington DC to do a corporate shoot and was just packing up my equipment in the building lobby when they approached me and asked if I could make some portraits for their company website. They had been watching me work and thought I would be a good fit. When I sent them the pictures, they called me and asked me to shoot their wedding. They’ve been quite successful navigating the complexities of federal and state government real estate, but when it comes to major decisions they tend to follow their instincts.