At times it’s difficult to believe, but I’ve been shooting weddings for 7 years now. This will be my 8th season working professionally. It’s something that I never imagined myself doing, but that has brought me a lot of artistic and creative fulfillment and a circle of friends I would’ve otherwise never met.
My first wedding was on Valentine’s Day in 2009. I second shot for Emily Porter, who was darn good back then, but is amazing now as one half of The Oberports in West Virginia. I had zero experience working with real clients, used cheap lenses, and did a lot of things poorly… wacky editing, unnecessarily tilting, not allowing any cropping space, even delivering some out-of-focus portraits. Most of the images I was proud of at the time wouldn’t make it through my first pass of culling now. But it was my first time, and I was glad to have a chance to jump in and see what weddings were like. I fell completely in love with the action and urgency of the wedding day, and the way that there was always something going on to photograph, and I haven’t stopped since.
So, in honor of my 7th birthday as a professional photographer, I’m sharing some of my favorite shots from that first adventure in the wedding world. They’ve been quickly re-edited to be a bit more cohesive with my current work. And at the end… Well, I’m also gonna be brave and show you some of the photos that were not so great, despite what I thought at the time.
The roses above were completely set up by me, on additional materials (the chocolate box and ribbons) I brought myself. I still like the picture, but these days I try hard not to bring outside props into someone’s wedding. I just don’t think they feel very authentic.
Clearly, I’ve always been a sucker for cute babies. It’s gotten worse since Caroline and James arrived.
I still love this moment of the bride and her mom, and another guest looking on with her own camera.
This was right before she walked down the aisle. I thought her eyes were so beautiful (and they are!) and loved that smile.
I still like this shot, although I wish the focus were a bit sharper. It’s a closeup of the bride and her dad, arm in arm. And I like that it shows off her bracelet.
Babies, I tell you. This one I particularly like because of the grandmother’s expression.
The bride walking to her family portraits. The little gesture with her hand, the held-up dress, and their attentive expressions make the shot for me. I would probably still take this same photo today.
And a little action shot, with TWO cute babies.
And now, for the “what was I thinking?!” portion of this retrospective.
I really loved this little moment of the bride with the back view of her dress. I still like the basic gesture. But somehow I didn’t notice the image was completely blurred because my shutter speed was slow, and the light is pretty flat. If this were today, I’d make sure to get it sharper and probably put it in black and white, and I might even choose to focus on the grandpa across the way instead of the bride herself.
And this one… because what every couple wants from their wedding day portraits is a photo of a… rusty door hinge? To be fair, Emily was shooting them from the front at this time (and her portraits were beautiful!) and I wanted to give her a different viewpoint. If it were today and I wanted to give her a different viewpoint, I’d run over to the rest of the family and shoot candids.
And I remember loving this photo of the bride. She’s gorgeous. Like, TOTALLY gorgeous. Unfortunately, her face is out of focus, the photo is tilted 45 degrees for no apparent reason, and I put it in sepia (without saving the original color) so now it looks very dated and there’s no way to get the original color back.
So this all is to say THANK YOU, clients and readers, for giving me 7 years to learn and grow as a photographer, and as a person. THANK YOU to Emily for giving me that first taste of wedding photography way back in 2009. THANK YOU to this lovely couple for agreeing to allow a total novice to share in their day. And a special THANK YOU to those of you who are already on my calendar for 2016. We’re going to make some beautiful pictures together. And I promise, no rusty hinges.