My Take on Wedding Photography

November 14, 2015  •  Leave a Comment


Lake Oswego Wedding at The Foundry.

One of the things I dislike most is talking about me or my work.  Oh, I love to answer questions and yes I take pride in my work and always strive to do the very best that I can for a client, but singing one's own praises, to me feels self-serving, and just plain wrong.

So you won’t find my page on the top of search engines because just about everything it takes get there I just cannot do without feeling like I am being as egocentric as some photographers seem to be.  I have had many marketing people tell me that I must talk myself up in that way, but I just cannot do it and feel good about myself.

Rock Springs Ranch WeddingRock Springs Ranch WeddingMegan and Brian's lovely wedding at Rock Springs Ranch in Bend Oregon

So then what can I write about while trying to let people know about my work and the way I love to approach a wedding, portrait or commercial shoot?  I guess I can discuss what I strive for, how I look at the process of photography and what my goals are.  I will not be discussing what I am trying to get across in a particular photograph, as that to me is just as bad.  I believe that if my photographs do not stand on their own and convey a message or emotion or tell a story and give the viewer that little tug of the heart, then I have failed and no amount of supporting text will change that.  I am happy to discuss a certain photograph if asked but to post one somewhere with a long explanation just doesn’t work for me. 

Kiah Lodge Wedding.Kiah Lodge Wedding.Wedding at the lovely Kiah Lodge resort in Poulsbo Washington.

Part of this way of looking at things I get from my talented wife. She is a world-class artist who learned to paint as an apprentice to a Renaissance master in Firenze Italy, where she spent many years learning her art. She too shrinks from written descriptions or explanations of her work. It either stands or falls on its own.  I find that amazing because a painting takes so much more effort than a single photograph does to produce.

So with all that said, here is my approach to my work.  The technical aspects of photography aside, and I believe this can be set aside, because if a photographer has not mastered the technical aspects of his or her craft then they have no business calling themselves a pro and taking people’s money all the while hoping they don’t get into a fix that will take some real skill and knowledge to get out of.

A photographer only has a few tools they can use to make a photograph work. These tools used correctly and creatively are essential to convey the emotion, the feeling, or to tell the story of what is happening at that moment when the shutter clicks.

Beyond the technical aspects and the rules of composition which are fairly easy to learn, it just takes time and experience to be able to see and capture these wonderful moments. There are three main tools once can use or if you will, aspects that make up a good photograph especially in wedding, portrait and advertising photography. These are light, composition and human emotion.

To me, the first in foremost is light. A photographer may have the all the rules of composition down but if they do not understand or cannot see light their photos will look flat and will be lacking in personality.  Light is one of the strongest allies we have in making a great photograph and it must be used wisely to have it work for us in creating a photograph with stunning visual impact.  Wedding photographers, especially those of the photojournalist style, must develop an innate sense of light, where it is coming from and how it will impact the image because they must do everything on the fly. There is no time to pose each shot. 

This is also where camera knowledge comes in; we must be able to change settings instantly to whatever is needed to be able to get the shot.  As the subjects move the light changes and what you can do with it differs, different backgrounds call for different exposures and the wedding photographer must be able to keep up. I have seen way too many wedding photographs where the photographer just set the camera on auto and that was it. If everything stayed the same they might have gotten away with it.  Most don’t.  I think that the new washed out look that has become popular is fine, but I have seen it used as a way to hide bad exposure. I think that the photo must be well exposed and then if you want to go that direction in processing fine, but it never should be relied upon to cover up less that adequate technical skills.

Kiana Lodge Wedding in Poulsbo WashingtonKiana Lodge Wedding in Poulsbo WashingtonBeautiful wedding at the beautiful Kiana Lodge in Poulsbo Washington.

Light tells the story; it sets the mood and conveys the emotion of the moment in time that was captured.  The greatest painters know that, look at Rembrandt’s work, his understanding and use of light is amazing. Lord Leighton is amazing at using light and dark to create fabrics on his women that you can almost feel. There are so many other wonderful painters we can learn from. They, however, and not to take anything away from their brilliance and skill, get to add light where needed, journalistic style wedding photographers, as a rule, do  not have that luxury. When we do add light to an image we need to do so in such a way that we avoid that on camera flash washed out look. Only one of my cameras has a built-in flash and I have never used it. They produce horrid light. 

We need to spend our lives looking at and learning the properties of light and how it reacts with the world around us. This can be done all times all days.

Next is personal emotion. We must be able to capture that instant when the emotion is there, that fleeting moment the emotion passes across the subjects face and then is gone forever. We must be vigilant, ever watching, and give it everything we have to not lose those precious moments.  Sure some will get by us be we need to be able to capture the majority of them.  I still ache inside about a couple shots I missed; I can still see the light hitting the subject and the photo what would have been made. Luckily they were street shots and not a wedding but still.  Street photography is a wonderful way to train yourself to be able to see light and capture emotion as well as anticipate how the elements in a scene will play out and the image that may be created from them. It keeps you hopping and you have to keep that camera up and looking through the viewfinder or you will miss something.

Sometimes that street photography look works very well for a wedding image, another reason to learn and practice street photography.

Cell phone cameras are a part of weddings now so get used to it. They will be there unless the couple asks that they not be taken out, but usually they are all over.  There will be some great shots taken with the phones and they will be posted so your work needs to be good enough that it will, for the most part, stand above those photos as everyone will see both.

These are the elements that I believe go into making a good wedding photograph and I spend my life trying to improve my abilities and bring the very best to the work at hand.  I will never be as good as I desire to be but that keeps me growing and there is always plenty of room for that. 

So this is what I am about and I will do everything possible to get the best photographs of your wedding, portrait, and event, well you name it. Yes as photographers we are told to pick a specialty and don’t venture outside of that, well I have and it is photography, I just love shooting and creating interesting and powerful images that will capture those wonderful moments in time so they can be relived and shared.  Images that will draw one into them and convey the message directly to the heart, these are the things I can talk about because they are what excite me.

I have been a photographer for decades and am currently training my son in the craft. I shoot weddings as well as many other genres of photography. We limit ourselves to six or eight weddings per year this allows us to do the very best work and I do all of the processing myself putting eyes and hands on each and every photograph.  Doing so I can keep wedding photography a passion rather that just a job. Sure a pro will do nice work on any job but a passion, that brings wonderful results.

I live in the quaint little town of Silverton Oregon it is located just outside Salem and less than an hour from Portland and while I love shooting weddings here in the area the majority of my work is all around the pacific northwest and I am available to travel where ever the wedding is held. We love to travel and have the ability to enter a new location sized it up and produce quality photography.


The best way to contact me is either go to contact on this page or email to [email protected]  email is the best way to get to me as I am out of cell contact much of every day. Thanks.


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