When I first began photographing weddings, I had graduated college and was taking a photography class at the Boston Architectural Center. I was learning the basics: exposure, composition (something I always thought was intuitive), lighting and dark room. It was all in black and white.
I attended my first season of weddings as a second photographer. I had absolutely no responsibilities to the bride and groom. Just to myself, to take the best possible photographs.
I did photograph the bride and groom, but only if I wanted to. I photographed trees and rocks, houses and children. Butterflies. A lot of it was with infrared film.
My teacher, Todd Gieg, taught me to use natural light in the best possible way, as much as possible. "Like the Beatles song," he said. So I followed the sun. Still, I am a servant to the sparkly, flattering side of natural light.
When the sun went down, or in Grotto lighting halls, or in dark chapels, Todd taught me to use the on camera flash as minimally as possible, and mix ambient light with it as much as possible. I still use his special formula for lighting. So as not to destroy the mood created in the room.
He taught me to love my tripod. Very few digital photographers still use a tripod. In fact, for the last wedding, I did a long exposure of The Inn at St. John's in the dark. I was all packed up and just about to jump in my car, when I saw the building. I was exhausted but I knew that the bride and groom would appreciate the image. The trees blurry from the wind and the bricks glowing in floodlights. So beautiful and surreal.
My photography and approach is still based on these principles, visually. As the years went on, I began appreciating the emotions of a wedding. All that visual stuff is important, but what makes a wedding photograph is the feelings. All of them. The nerves before. The intense love from the parents as their baby walks down the aisle. The radiant joy from the bride. The groom's heart on his sleeve. The mom laughing at her little flower girl's form. The groom's college friends giddy on the dance floor. The child, grumpy and tired at the end of the night. I still cry, and laugh, and am moved, time and time again, at each wedding I photograph. It's all so beautiful.
Let the beauty begin. Let me see it the way I do, and let me give it back to you to keep.
It has been a while since you covered my daughter Mary's wedding (Pavlock/Johnson...10/30/04). Mary and Justin are now the parents of a BEAUTIFUL (grandfatherly hyperbole aside) newborn baby girl, Grace Isabella. The incredible pictures you composed for our family reflect the passion and precision of a great person, and an equally great photographer. The day was a special one...very windy...and replete with a loving spirit that a father of a bride could only pray for. Very few could have captured these moments as well as you had. Your talent was truly a Godsend. Thank you again.
I can't wait to see the photos of Chelsea's wedding, but I wanted to write you about what a pleasure it was getting to know you a little and what a consummate photographer you are. You worked like a dog at Dominick's Saturday night and then during the long wedding day. I appreciated very much how you found reserves of energy to take the photo ops that came up. Your climbing the tall ladder (I later learned you used to be afraid of ladders) to get the group shot was brave. Thank you again for making the photography aspect of the wedding so easy and enjoyable.
Jan, mother of the bride
They are beautiful. You did an amazing job. I cannot get over how beautiful they are. I could not have asked for a better photographer. I love them. We both do! Thank you SO much for capturing my day in the most perfect way. I cannot thank you enough!
I got the pics. I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE love love love them so much. They are so lovely and EMOTIONAL and real and funny and I just cried. I feel like they capture the day, the HEART of the day. You captured the heart of the day.
We could not possibly give a higher recommendation for Elizabeth. Not only is she an amazingly talented photographer, she was always professional, prompt and a pleasure to share our most special day with. No need to look any further. You've found your wedding photographer. -Jonathan
Elizabeth and her assistant, Karl, were such a wonderful addition to our wedding. From the beginning of the planning process, we felt that she really saw us as the people we are. She was able to catch so many exquisite moments on that day and every photo seems to have a life of it's own- magic and energy in everyone's faces. She was extremely accommodating and generous with her time- coming all the way to Brooklyn to hand deliver the photos. Many guests commented on how wonderful our photographer was (both looking at the photos and just her presence on that day.) She was professional and very reasonably priced- even correcting an oversight after the fact, which was greatly appreciated. I highly recommend Elizabeth. We were so fortunate to find her!
My husband and I used Elizabeth Solaka for our destination wedding held in Joshua Tree National Park two years and she was INCREDIBLE. As a person, she is amazingly easy to have around-- she is kind, patient, empathetic, and supportive-- everything that you might want when you are stressed out and trying to plan a wedding and make sure that it goes smoothly. During the ceremony, she was amazing at taking very close up pictures without seeming to be overly present and she also moved around alot and took a wide range of very interesting photos-- photos that perhaps you might not think you would want but later when you look at them, you realize how special they are. Elizabeth had amazing ideas for family portraits and formally and informally posed shots before the ceremony and afterwards. She also had fabulous artsy ideas that she put out there and we chose to take her up on them and they worked beautifully-- very innotivative landscape shots. And then, during our reception, she did a beautiful job getting both candid and posed shots. Because she is so pleasant, fun, and easy to work with, people actually LIKE having their pictures taken by her-- and that is definitely something to think about! Afterwards, she had everything developed and prepared super quickly and was really easy to coordinate with. Our moms were happy too! And her prices are more than reasonable. Make no mistake-- this is a serious, classy, and creative photographer-- and she is fun to work with!
Dear Elizabeth, I want to thank you for your participation in the wedding of my Step-daughter Julie. Your professionalism, grace, beauty and sense of humor drive me to seek your Blog daily. Your choice of Grandma’s & Bride picture has blessed many homes in Texas & Oklahoma. We all thank you for including the pictures and comments made on the 29th, too. Do not know how Ms. Julie picked you as her photographer of such an event, but I suspect it was a Supreme Being involvement. Many of us have given thanks to Him for having you in our lives that wonderful evening.
May God continue to Bless your work and the many lives you touch.