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.
Weddings are all about ritual; white dresses, vows, rings, first dances, etc. Regardless of how unique a given wedding is, there are certain patterns, which is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because a wedding photographer has a rough idea of the arc of the day, a curse because if you’ve been doing this for awhile you want to avoid taking pictures you’ve made before. Even though your mandate is to make the best pictures possible of this wedding regardless of what precedes it. Other patterns emerge over a period of time, often having less to do with weddings per se than human nature.
A lot of wedding photographers are calling themselves wedding photojournalists these days. It’s hip, it’s trendy, and for the sake of marketing, many photographers have those words on their websites. If authentic wedding photos are important to you however, you should know how to spot the real thing before you hire someone.
Jamie and Michael were married at The Manor House in Morrison, Colorado. It’s a beautiful setting, though I never want the environment to upstage the people gathered, the people who will be so much more important years into the future than chosen colors or intricate place settings. As a Denver wedding photojournalist, I prefer to work in black and white, always putting the focus on the individual and the ways in which we connect.
I received this message last week. Made my day:
Hi Carl. I’m sure you don’t remember me but you photographed my wedding in 2005. I wanted you to know how much I continue to cherish the photos you captured that day. In particular, I have been spending a lot of time over the past 24 hours looking at this photograph of my grandmother hugging me. She passed away on April 28th, seven years ago. It’s difficult to describe the emotions I feel when I look at this photo, but I can tell you that it is without a doubt my favorite image of her at any age. So thank you for this gift you have given me and my family that truly continues to bear fruit regularly to this day. I hope you are well and I wish you all good things!
I was recently commissioned to do a portrait of Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. Regardless of the subject matter or assignment, I try to approach people with honesty and transparency in my intentions. I need people to be real in front of the camera, which is not always an easy thing to do. It helps to be calm, and it was a very quiet session. It also helps to go out on a limb and be yourself, without pretense or defenses, or some version that seems tailored to the situation. Just be. If you’re lucky, people will return the favor. Which I think he did.
Annika & Keith were married at Willowbrook Amphitheater in Morrison, just south of Denver. It’s a horseshoe-shaped natural rock formation, sort of like a large cave with an opening on one end and a skylight in the middle. It’s one of the most unique wedding venues in Colorado that I’ve been to, perhaps anywhere. They Annika wanted natural wedding photography by a photojournalist, so we are on the same page. Just before the music started at the ceremony, their dog got loose and ran down the aisle into Keith’s arms. The best moments are unscripted, always.
Mini & Jung had their ceremony and reception at the Magnolia Hotel Denver, which has a huge ballroom across the street from the main hotel. They are a surprising couple, very polite and somewhat reserved. Until the music starts.
Michelle and Kody’s wedding at Willow Ridge Manor, just outside of Denver, reflected them well; low-key, down to earth, and real. They wanted their pictures to be the same, no silliness or staged moments, just honest documentary photography of their wedding. Which always makes me happy.