There are a lot of buzzwords in the wedding community...
...and some that come up often are "documentary", "posed", "light and airy", and "dark and moody." While these couple descriptors really barely touch on the vast collective of incredible talent our community offers, they do offer a great starting point when you're searching for your wedding photographer. I regard myself as a hybrid of a couple of these, but if I had to simply into a few words, I'd sum my style up as "Light and bright, timeless, and guidedly classic." I most closely fit into the light and airy style, and while I take plenty of time to stand back as a wallflower to document your day as it happens, I also am not shy to help guide you into the perfect light, poses, and prompts to make the most magical photographs- but maybe most importantly, my goal is to always deliver a timeless gallery to my couples.
What this means is that we're not following what's trendy for trends sake. I'm not chasing after what was on Pinterest eight years ago (bridesmaids holding a mirror, or holding the ring as a frame, anyone?). I'm not chasing the next Tiktok challenge (remember the mannequin challenge? If you said no, you might be too young to get married- get outta here!) My couples hire me to create art that will stand the test of time and truly feel as fresh fifty years from now as it did the day of your wedding.
And to prove it to you, I'm going to do something that not many photographers would.
I'm going to share images from one of my earliest solo weddings, back in 2017.
Lauren and Andrew's wedding was a summertime soirée held at Willowbrook Weddings in Vollant, PA (previously Rustic Acres Farm). Lauren, a Pittsburgh native, traveled all the way to Australia to study abroad where she met a boy from Canada, Andrew, who would soon become her forever coffee-date, travel companion, and best friend. This made wedding planning quite the challenge, but luckily, Lauren had an amazing team of family and friends (plus the amazing JPC Event Group!) here in Pittsburgh to work out all of the fine details!
Even though this was one of my earliest weddings, I knew details mattered! Lauren brought her journal where she kept record of all of her journeys- and on one page, her first date with Andrew was forever memorialized with the rose he gave her that day. This was before the Mrs. Box graced our styling kits and certainly before you could pick up any ring box on Amazon- but I was determined to incorporate this glass and brass box into the day! I wanted something that would bring together both the city living they were used to, as well as the more whimsical vibes Lauren had planned in other areas.
I was ecstatic when the caters walked past with this copper framing!!! I had done a classic dress-in-tree image already, but I felt like her sequined Karen Willis Holmes gown needed something with a little more edge and a touch of glam. When I look back at these there are certainly details I'd change that came to me with experiencing dozens on dozens of weddings- but those details are things like removing the water bottles in around the makeup station and turning off extra lights, not the way we created and captured moments!
This was the moment that I fell in love with the first look! Lauren took the journal that she had recorded the memories of their first date into, and surprised Andrew by reading her first impressions of him, how he gave her butterflies, and how sweet and respectful he was to her. This moment has been SUCH a favorite of mine that I love asking my couples little questions inspired by this moment as they do their first looks! My favorite things are to either ask them to describe what they think their partner's dress looks like, or sweet questions about the first time they met. Even if there aren't sentimental tears, there are always laughs and smiles! Shortly after, close family and friends began to arrive for the ceremony. My second shooter and I hustled over to the big willow tree and set up for the big events to follow.
When it comes to the ceremony, the biggest thing I've learned was to be BOLD! This was a small wedding, and I was shy about standing near the front of the aisle, even if off to the side. I was still placed to capture both Lauren and her father walking down the aisle AND Andrew's face as they walked down, but not every ceremony gives a photographer that freedom. I knew the importance of touching base with the officiant, but I didn't know I could collaborate with them- such as by asking them to step aside for the kiss! As a seasoned professional now, I realize that we all have a part to play, but we're all one team- and most officiants are less than thrilled to be in-between the couple during the kiss shot, anyway. Don't forget- if you have a more strict ceremony setting where this isn't an option, we can always recreate the moment after the ceremony for the album or prints. What you can't recreate are moments like you coming back up the aisle together after being declared married and the emotions you had during the ceremony itself.
There are a lot of moments during a wedding day that are irreplaceable and so important, but one of my favorite times is always the couple's portraits! This is the point where you can finally take a deep breath and just enjoy being MARRIED. Lauren's team was so sweet and brought down a tray of hors d'oeuvres for them to share so that everyone would be refreshed for portraits. It felt like a silly moment to capture at the time, but a voice in my head said "do it!" and they became some of our favorite shots!
Going back to the portraits- this is the area where a "trendy" versus "timeless" style will really show. My goal is to never have a client look back and say "wow, that was SUCH a 2000s thing to do! What were we thinking?" This isn't to say we can't have fun and have goofy moments. But a timeless photographer can guarantee that you'll have a show-stopping collection of images that not only tell the story of your day, but that will stand the test time time and forever be classic- in a way that captures YOU! If we're spending all our time chasing a trend, we won't have time to make our own special magic.
As we moved into the reception, a clean, classic cake cut started the evening. I know everyone has their own strong opinions, but I am 100% team no-smash cake cutting, and team pro-instax at receptions all the way! Just like the details in the start of the day, every wedding is unique. Lauren and Andrew's friends loved playing lawn games and breathing in the summer country air more than crowding the dance floor, so that's what we covered! You can never force a full dance floor, but you can find where the action is in other places.
We finished the night with a surprise sparkler send off, full of laughs and cheers for our newly weds! Revisiting this collection, it's so special that everything feels just like it could have happened yesterday- it also makes it just that much more exciting for me to be capturing Lauren's brother, Chris, and his fiance Kelchis wedding this year! While the days may be years apart, the timeless essence will make them blend in when displayed together perfectly, just as the new family members become key anchors in each other's lives too.
Now- to be clear, a lot of things have changed over the years here at ATP. I never, ever stop learning, and I'm constantly practicing and honing my craft. My flat-lay kit has grown to no longer fit in one bag, and I have a collection of colorful backgrounds to match any wedding mood. Sometimes learning is with new editing techniques and upgrades in technology and equipment. Sometimes it's more out of the box like learning more about floral design and networking with other industry professionals to learning from their experiences too. But at the end of the day, timelessness is more than just a style or a filter you apply- it's taste.