If I'm being totally honest (and I am because we're friends now), I never wanted to photograph weddings. Or people in a portrait sense at all, really.
I got my first camera when I was seventeen. Once I moved to college I quickly became a nightlife photographer (you know what I'm talking about— the kind that takes drunk, sweaty photos of you in that one bar). It was a horrible job with shitty pay but there are silver linings in all things and sometimes those silver linings are free beer.
I enjoyed the documentary side of it all, the it's-okay-if-you-missed-it-because-I-photographed-literally-every-moment kind of thing.
It wasn’t until some friends asked me to photograph them that things began to click for me. I realized that my photos didn’t have to look like everyone else’s and that there wasn’t a one size fits all formula for photographing people. It was then I realized that a documentary approach blended with honest human connection, a real human story, was powerful.
That changed everything for me and I haven’t looked back since.
PLANNING MY NEXT TRIP WITH MY WIFE, INGRID, SPOILING OUR TWO RESCUE DOGS, OR MAPPING OUT THE NEXT PROJECT ON OUR 1970’S FIXER.
Unpopular wedding industry opinion:
Your wedding day photo gallery shouldn’t be a montage of manufactured moments.
Have you ever been to or been part of a wedding where the photographer/videographer asked a group of guys to cheers for a photo? And then asked them to do it again 3 more times so they could get it from other angles? Did you feel the energy dissipate after the first one? Do you remember the conversation that was started and then never recovered? What about the laughs didn’t get the chance to come out?
What about an embrace between a mom and daughter, interrupted and started up again in better light? Does the second feel the same as the first one? Or a forced joke in order to spark smiles during softer moments? What honest emotions were muted?
I don’t believe in interjecting in these ways. The beautiful thing about wedding days is that the love and feelings are already there, showing themselves in little pockets throughout the day. They may not look like a standard Pinterest gallery, but they’re also not meant to.
So tell me this — on your wedding day, do you want to remember your mom fake-adjusting your tie 3 times to get the shot right? Or do you want to remember how it really happened?
For most of my life, they were my absolute favorite people in the world. They couldn’t have been more different from each other. He was a foul-mouthed Marine from Michigan, a red-blooded American, a steak and potatoes kind of guy that could’ve single handedly kept PBR in business for decades. She was endlessly nurturing, barely spoke English, religiously watched WWE’s Monday Night Raw (me too), and spent so much time in the kitchen — often cooking two meals, one for him and one that reminded her of home. Food was her love language.
Their love didn’t make sense but it didn’t have to. They lived all over the states and in Okinawa (a few times), raised four kids, and also raised me. Even when my Grandpa was a stubborn ass (99% of the time), she’d complain under her breath but still look at him with loving eyes. Even when his brain started to deteriorate, he would still call her his sunshine.
They are no longer with me and I miss them every day. When I see these photos, I see undeniable proof that they were real, that their love was real. I remember the smell of her cooking and his musty man cave in the backyard. I remember being woken up at four in the morning to go over my homework before school. I remember being taught how to play poker and knowing how to bluff before my seventh birthday. I remember my mom being mad about it.
I remember being a dumb teenager and feeling like hanging out with grandparents wasn’t very cool (boy, was I wrong). I remember hospital trips and health scares. I remember spiraling out in nursing home lobbies and my grandma’s last words to me, “don’t cry, Mady”, that even on her last day she cared for others first. I remember the phone calls to tell me dreaded news that I already knew in my heart.
Photos are a reminder of all we've felt; a visual momento to prove that we existed and that we loved and were loved in return. They are a vehicle of nostalgia and can transport you to a time and place, surrounded by ones you love, even if you haven't seen them in a long while.
Almost two years ago, I realized something that almost every business owner eventually comes to know: You can't do it all on your own.
Enter Hannah. Hannah picked up photography in an elective class in high school — it was unintentional and she just needed a filler for her schedule. After a photo she took landed second place in a state-wide competition in her home state of Wisconsin, she realized she might be on to something. That lead to involvement of yearbook staff, learning film mediums and the science of developing, and then breaking into weddings during college.
Since Hannah joined me after moving to North Carolina with her boyfriend, James, she's photographed numerous of weddings on my behalf, even more engagement sessions, and assisted me at whenever I’ve needed her.
Her midwestern, friendly nature makes couples instantly feel at home and comfortable. Hannah has a deep love for storytelling, in both photography and writing spaces, and loves capturing days as they really happened, which made her a perfect fit for MNP.