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.