A great documentary photographer is alert, responsive, and curious...

Though most weddings follow a common "order of events" (ie: preparation, unification, and celebration), the moment-to-moment experience of couples, families, guests, and the photographer changes constantly. A wedding is like a living beast: one moment it's a docile purring kitten in your lap, the next it's a bucking bronco ready to kick any fool who crosses its path. To reduce all weddings down to banal cliches such as "the happiest day of your life" (an easy trap for photographers) is to miss out on the full emotional range that makes weddings so HUMAN.

On your wedding day, you will: solidify your bond to your favorite person, dance and sing with your friends, eat fried food and drink hard alcohol, deal with difficult family dynamics, watch your loved ones cry happy tears, and cry some happy tears yourself...all while wearing expensive clothes and uncomfortable shoes. It's a beautiful day, to be sure. But it's also a strange day. With lots of highs and lows. And no two weddings are alike.

So, what does all this have to do with the photos in this blog post?

I like to talk about my documentary approach to wedding photography (essentially, taking candid photos without intervention), but talking only explains so much. Since photography is a visual medium, I think showing prospective clients my work is the best way to clarify what I do, how I do it, and why I do it:

A family member cries and wipes her tears during a wedding ceremony at a church in Queens NY

During the ceremony, I noticed the groom's aunt crying and wiping her tears, while in the foreground the couple watches the priest preparing for a candle lighting ritual. I've used careful composition and selective focus to tell the story of this decisive moment. Processing the image in black and white add to the emotional impact. September 2022 in Queens, NY.

A bride and groom smile during a candle ceremony at their wedding in a Queens NY church

Next, I quickly changed my position so that I could capture the couple's joyful expressions. In the lower left corner of the frame, you can just see the edge of the crying aunt's arm; next to her is the groom's mother, who in the previous photo was hidden behind the bride. Again, deliberate composition and selective focus to capture the emotion of the moment. Here, color lends to the mood and showcases the beautiful church. September 2022 Queens NY.

I was able to get two shots with very different emotion in the same scene; this is the value of a true documentary approach.

Instead of assuming I know what's about to happen (in life and in weddings, none of us do!), or hanging out in one static spot and shooting the ceremony with a long impersonal telephoto lens (as many other photogs do), I stay alert, responsive, and curious. Your wedding day is far too meaningful to conform to cookie-cutter shot-lists and canned group shots of everyone lined up wearing plastic smiles.

Your wedding will have laughter and tears, highs and lows, and everything in between. And I'm here for it.