James and Amber


Something old, something borrowed, something blue and something new.

That’s the mantra for weddings right? You need one of each, well this blog is something old. I wanted to jump back to one of the first weddings I ever shot and hopefully, you’ll see my progression as a photographer when comparing one of my first attempts with one of my current ones.

A couple years ago, I had already been a professional photographer in the newspaper industry for five years, but was very new at portrait photography. As in, I of course shot newspaper portraits, but I had never cared whether the clients looked good or thought they looked good in the photos.

My sole goal was to wait and capture them in a moment of honesty, show them in their deepest thoughts and in their trouble and when they’re most real.

To get these moments I would simply take more and more photos until they forgot I was there. I didn’t pose them, I rarely set the scene and instead let them be themselves.

Now that I’m doing portrait and creative photography, I’m realizing how incredibly far away that field is from photojournalism, which I specialized in.

As a photojournalist you of course know your way around the camera, but more than anything else you’re documenting reality. Of course when you’re documenting reality, you’re living in the background, on the edges and rarely interacting with the subject. Any interaction with the subject and you actually change the honesty of the situation and that isn’t your goal.

There is no creation.

Once I began to do portraits, I was almost at a loss at times, to create something. I was so used to making the best of the situation and offering little input to the subject that for the most part that’s still what I wanted to do.

Now, I was in charge. I was creating the scene and putting the action in motion.

In this wedding, I can really see the aspect coming out. I’d work around the people instead of directing and was more documenting than anything else. I’m still happy with a lot of the photos, and it was a wedding gift for my cousins that I know they appreciated!

Since then, I’ve come to love the control, the ability to not just make the best of the situation, but create a perfect situation. It’s amazing and the photos I’ve been able to make are equally awesome.

As you can see, this was an outdoor wedding in October in Michigan. I can see that the wedding itself was early afternoon and it was a little too early in the day to make the photography as easy and ideal as you’d hope.

I was still able to get some great shots, but I can see most of my photos are shot with the sun at my back, which is a style I rarely if ever do now. Now, I’m constantly shooting with the subject between me and the light source to create that even and flattering light.

I remember once we moved to the reception, I was able to use a bounce flash to get some really great shots of the dance floor and of people in general having fun. A more unique photo that I tried to take was of the bride and groom on the bridge. I put a flash behind them, but this was in the day before I had light stands, so I think I had to put it on the ground and make do with the light shining upwards.

I also struggled with the camera shake and setting the shutter speed slow enough to get the night-time environment, but to get less blurred action.

It’s always great to look back on your past triumphs and not so great triumphs and realize how far you’ve actually come as an artist. Even though we all should be on a continual learning curve, it’s great to see the process and be encouraged when we leave a shoot feeling like we still have so much to learn.

That’s most days 🙂


95156 160 158 149 147 140 129 115 112 108 102 43 22 27 6 5 4 9 7

Close Menu