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, and enjoyed a pint. 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.
Lauren and Joe’s Bluemont, Virginia wedding was at her father’s farm in Loudoun County, between Paris and Leesburg. Together they created Grimm Artisanal Ales, a Brooklyn-based nomadic brewery which has been absurdly successful in international competitions. Like their relationship, it was a day of friendship and sincerity, with a bit of fireworks.
Denver is a great place for engagement photography. Urban and rural environments are only a few minutes apart. Because I mainly do wedding photojournalism, this isn’t something a lot of my clients think to ask for, but it’s a fun way to spend a couple hours and for us to get to know each other better. It’s a bit of a paradox, but once they get to know me it becomes that much easier to completely forget about me on the day of the 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.