Every year, this list aims to recognize the top talent in our industry. The photographers whose images—full of emotion, one-of-a-kind composition, and a general sense of awe—motivate us and, frankly, stop us in our tracks with a collective, woah.
When setting out to name the best photographers in the United States for 2020, one thing stood out in everyone we spoke with: how this industry, along with couples affected by the events of COVID-19, has had to reimagine what their profession looks like in a world where we have not been allowed to celebrate in the way we know how. And how, even when faced with an obstacle that quite literally affected their livelihood, these professionals were able to pivot with enduring grace. Pivot. That may as well have been the word of the year for weddings.
This year, not only did these artists (documentarians, really) give us a new level of awe-inspiring work, they also worked seamlessly to, yes, pivot. They learned to shoot couples wearing masks, travel and work wearing face shields and without second shooters, find the perfect angle from six feet apart, and, in some cases, utilize drone photography (yes, really!) so guests could enjoy some semblance of a “normal” cocktail hour.
Even so, when asked to name what lesson they took away from 2020’s unprecedented circumstances, all 99 photographers on this list put a positive spin on a situation that was often not filled with such optimism. They chose to focus on the resilience of their clients and fellow wedding artists rather than dwell on the challenges, which makes these creatives even more inspiring in our book.
Love did not get canceled in 2020, and judging by the work of the below artists, not only did creativity not get canceled, it got magnified. Here, the best wedding photographers in the U.S. whose work continued to encourage us during a time when we all needed beauty, love, and inspiration more than ever.
Aaron Delesie has been photographing weddings since 2003. Only taking on a handful of weddings a year, Delesie's approach is to give every event "everything we've got." The photographer covers Los Angeles, New York, and Atlanta.
I Work in Weddings Because: "It's incredibly creative."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "How can you pick just one. We love weaving together all those amazing moments that make up a wedding to tell a really solid story."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "That people are really resilient."
The collective made up of Abby Jiu, Lisa Ziesing, and Meg Lucks aims to capture each couple's individual story. The D.C.-based photography studio blends "fine art intentionality with a documentarian's eye for the spontaneous." Personal stories are what drive Abby, Lisa, and Meg to create beautiful moments. When a recent bride's father couldn't attend her wedding due to illness, they sped up the process and had photographs back to the couple the very next morning. "Our bride reported back to us that it was the first time he had taken pen to paper since his illness, and wrote to his daughter 'you are beautiful.' That moment is our 'why' and was the perfect reminder of how important our job is."
We Work in Weddings Because: "We love to photograph weddings because every couple has a vision for their wedding day: there is personal meaning in each finely-curated detail and a unique history behind every fleeting moment between loved ones."
Our Favorite Moment to Capture: "There’s this moment, right after the couple walks down their aisle. Their friends and family are behind them with smiles on their faces, and the couple is filled with this genuine happiness on their face–looking at each other with that 'we did it' smile. That moment is always our favorite, and we talk about it so much we have named it the 'post-nuptial glow.'"
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "2020 has taught us all a lot; especially in the wedding industry. We’ve learned in 2020 that at the core of it all, the most important thing is love. Not the guest count, or your dress, or whether the family is watching in person with masks or over Zoom—the most important thing is that moment with the person you’re spending the rest of your life with. As scary as it’s been, it’s really beautiful to see love win, again and again, and again."
Creating a world of wonder is at the top of the list of why Colorado-based Adonye Jaja does what he does. "This place exists between the lines and on a good day we see glimpses of it and on the best of days I have a camera," he tells us. Jaja's work aims to tell complex love stories, photographically. "I tried this on myself, even though I am not married my love story is relevant and can be beautifully photographed," Jaja says. "So I did, I built a table that I had only dreamed of and told my love story in a picture. I hope to do this with all of my clients."
I Work in Weddings Because: "I love love. I love to create. I am more me at weddings than anywhere else. I work in weddings because I must."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "My favorite moment morphs with every wedding, it’s when I notice something about my clients that matches up with their vision for the day. Be it grace or peace or wonder, when I notice it expressed visually there is always a moment in which I am able to fit into a little square and show them why they invited me to join them on their day."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "In 2020, I learned that love conquers all. It fits in like water in a vessel. With so many restrictions so many people found ways to express their love for each other and it was beautiful to witness!"
Taking an editorial and photojournalistic approach to wedding photography, Colorado-based Alicia Rinka captures beautiful emotional and artistic images for her clients. "Immortalizing seconds of emotion for our clients to keep for a lifetime," Rinka tells us. Rinka and her team serve weddings in Colorado, Chicago, and across destinations.
I Work In Weddings Because: "I fell in love with the ability to capture years of history, and the appreciation for the creativity and details brought together to celebrate a union."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "Photographers learn to study the room and observe emotion. I enjoy being able to capture moments that happen in a split second. Those moments reflect the love, excitement, and anticipation of the couple's feelings."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Having an intimate wedding can be small in guest numbers and extravagantly beautiful with an amazing team!"
Connecting with not only his clients but their families and guests is what gives New York City-based Allan Zepeda "unfiltered access" to capture the most intimate and beautiful images, lending authenticity to the final product. "I love capturing emotion," he says. "The only accurate way to successfully do that is to have everyone around me feel undoubtedly comfortable."
I Work in Weddings Because: "Capturing those moments feels like an honor. I'm a historian of these individual lives, documenting and preserving with candor and genuineness so it can be relived and retold in the future through my photographs."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "It's usually the moments between moments. It's the stolen glances between a bride and her grandmother or a squeezed hand during the ceremony. I love capturing the true essence."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "A smaller guest list can overfill a room with love. Also, smaller weddings hold more secrets!"
Having shot weddings for more than 13 years across 23 different countries, Amanda Crean, now based in Napa, California, aims to capture "memories in an effortlessly chic approach with a touch of joyful irreverence." A former concert violinist, Crean uses what has influenced her in her own work to document an event in a natural way with the "best literal and figurative light as possible" allowing for the real moments to unfold, uninterrupted.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I'm a classic extrovert who becomes energized and inspired by the people I'm around. I feel incredibly fortunate that I get to see some of the sweetest moments of people's lives in some of the most beautiful settings on Earth. It is certainly not lost on me how lucky I am."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "Easy—when my couples are announced newly married!"
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "That love and celebrations and humanity will find a way to persist."
Serving New York City and Chicago couples since 2017, fine art wedding photographer Amarachi Ikeji has loved every moment of being a part of a couple's wedding day. "I believe every love story deserves to be beautifully and elegantly captured," Ikeji says. With an eye for detail and design that nearly took her to a career in fashion, Ikeji shoots each element of a wedding, putting together a showcase of the couple's grand love story.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I love capturing love in its many forms."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "The first dance, it is often such a joyous and emotional moment between the couple and their guests."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Love truly does conquer all, no matter what is going on in the world."
Even though she is Brooklyn-based, Amber Gress splits time between the East and West Coasts—she's a Southern California native after all. Working with a small creative team of photographers, Gress looks to blend photojournalism and artistic editorial-like work to ultimately create impactful images for her clients. "Everything from portraits, to still life, and documentary all come into working on a wedding day, which I love," Gress says.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I work in weddings because it was a natural fit for me since I am versed in many different approaches, and weddings really combine so many of the skills in my wheelhouse."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "My favorite moments are always the unexpected ones, the in-between moments when the couple forget the camera is even there."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "I learned that weddings are more special than ever. That coming together and gathering with our loved ones all on a single day is an indelible experience and well worth looking forward to once again."
Husband and wife duo Amy and Stuart Bunton are the team behind Amy & Stuart Photography. Shooting on both film and digital, the couple shoots with what they call minimal direction, hoping to capture "real candid moments or beautiful poses that honestly reflect our couples and their loved ones."
A long-standing team in the industry ("Long enough to be embarrassed by it," they joked) the duo is most proud to still be loving what they do, and producing fresh work for their clients after nearly two decades.
We Work in Weddings Because: "Because we make images that really matter to someone."
Our Favorite Moment to Capture: Amy: "Right before the bride walks down the aisle with her loved ones." Stuart: "Any moment with real, intense emotion particularly at the reception."
What We Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Intimate weddings can be just as amazing as very large ones."
New York-based Amay Anaiz's images have quickly become some of our team's favorites. With a refined eye and attention to detail, Anaiz creates beautiful work that feels intimate and editorial all while capturing the emotion and personality of a wedding day.
Known as an "expert on photographing all shades of melanated skin as well as capturing the emotions of my clients in an authentic way," Anaiz is most proud of leading her team—a diverse all-women group of five. "I think our unique diversity and way of thinking/seeing is what makes the final product so special," Anaiz says. We couldn't agree more!
I Work in Weddings Because: "Because of the thrill of each wedding day being a unique experience."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "The ceremony is always my favorite part of a wedding because it's the actual “act” of getting married. It's special to me because it's more than just the couple becoming “one’ but the merger of two families together. One of my favorite ceremonies I ever witnessed was a Nigerian American Catholic bride and an American Jewish groom. They seamlessly incorporated the respective cultural and religious traditions that were important to them as a couple. The bride's family wore traditional attire from Nigeria as they danced down the aisle, they were married by both a rabbi and pastor under a chuppah and had a signed custom ketubah that incorporated both their merged religious beliefs. This ceremony was a true testament of two families who were so different seamlessly merging together, and witnessing that was truly an honor. You could literally feel the love."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Couples were forced to re-evaluate who and what components of the wedding were non-negotiable. Weddings in 2020 were more about celebrating the couple's union/love versus the glitz and glamour."
With a combined 17 years of industry experience, and a background in fashion publishing, best friends Gina Esposito and Sheena Meekins built Anée Atelier "on a foundation of creative play." "We believe in creating images that convey a sense of warm, kinetic energy, gravitas, and style," the duo told us.
The team's adventurous eye allows them to capture each moment with a mix of photojournalism and romantic portraiture. "Above all, we take an intuitive approach to each couple and event we photograph; with a delicate understanding that the process is just as important as the final product," they added. Anée Atelier is based in New York City.
We Work in Weddings Because: "It’s a unique opportunity to create art out of an incredibly intimate and authentic experience—it’s telling a story through both poetry and prose."
Our Favorite Moment to Capture: "As photographers, we spend an entire wedding weekend collecting images that attempt to capture the full range of the bride or groom’s multi-faceted personalities. But until the beat drops on a couple’s favorite song and they’ve abandoned themselves on the dance floor, or in another moment of unrestrained celebration, you’ve only yet to see a portion of who they truly are. After months or sometimes years of meticulous planning, this all-important moment of joyous abandon is our absolute favorite."
What We Learned About Weddings in 2020: "That our couples are just as imaginative as the professionals that make up this inventive industry. They accepted the challenges 2020 presented and redefined the “necessary” elements of a wedding with an unapologetic boldness that made this year’s celebrations some of the most highly-concentrated doses of creativity we’ve ever seen."
Believe it or not, Houston-based Angela Lauren set out to become a veterinarian after graduating from Howard University with a Bachelor's in Biology. After starting a YouTube channel and buying a camera, she fell in love with photography. "I'm the biggest fan of love so capturing weddings became my passion," Lauren says. "These are memories that will live on for generations to come."
Her secret to getting the best photos is always making a couple feel comfortable so that their personalities shine through—even cracking jokes, singing, or having a small dance party when it's time to take photos. "Weddings, to me, are major celebrations and I like to make sure that my couples can relax and enjoy every moment," she says.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I work weddings because I love to encapsulate emotions and memories that are priceless for people."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "My favorite moment at a wedding is any kind of a reveal. I love when couples do first looks. Whether it be with a fiancé, a parent, or the wedding party; a reveal is momentous and a special memory to look back on and relive."
What We Learned About Weddings in 2020: "2020 put a lot of things into perspective this year. I've learned that love really does conquer all. Even in the midst of a pandemic when major weddings had to be scaled back, rescheduled, or even canceled; I feel that people held on to each other a little tighter, became a little softer, and loved a little harder because having a 2020 wedding was not an easy feat and everything is not promised."
Avonné Stalling has been photographing weddings for a decade. She credits getting to know the people she photographs with helping her capture their true essence. "I am obsessed with raw, uninfluenced emotion and that is something that is a staple in my approach to weddings," she says. Her motto is: "in everyone I see beauty, and in everything there is art."
Based out of Charlotte, North Carolina, Stalling photographs destination weddings and elopements worldwide.
I Work in Weddings Because: "It is an event in our lives that bring sheer happiness. Everyone in attendance is collectively happy, there is love present, both new and old, and it's a day that people always look back on."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "Candids are number one for me, those moments where guests and family see the bride for the first time, or those hugs after the [couple] is announced as [just married]."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Weddings are about one thing: LOVE. If there is one thing 2020 has taught me, and my couples, this year, is that nothing is more important than the love you two have for each other. 2020 has shifted priorities all over the globe for weddings, yet in the end, when it's all said and done the most important event that happened is that two became one."
Barbarah Pertulla's journey into wedding photography is an emotional story itself. Adopted at age 12 with her two brothers, Perttula left Haiti and moved to upstate New York on Christmas Eve 2006. Beginning a new life in a new country encouraged her to notice the beautiful landscapes around, and her adoptive parents noticed and got her her first point-and-shoot camera (and later a video camera). It wasn't until Christmas 2015 when her husband gifted her with a professional camera that she took the considered a leap into wedding photography as a business. "I remember staying up late that night snapping photos around our apartment and diving into Youtube tutorials, so excited to learn about my new camera. Fast forward to now, I am a wedding/elopement and lifestyle photographer," she says.
With a documentary-style approach to shooting weddings, Perttula likes to become an observer and let a moment unfold naturally on the wedding day. "It's a beautiful balance, it changes according to each couple, wedding, or moment," she says. She likes to get to know a couple and their story before shooting so she can capture their energy. Perttulla is based out of Knoxville, Maryland.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I want my couples to remember how a moment felt, and because 10 or 20 years from now I want them to look back and remember what truly matters, which is our relationships with loved ones."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "I always find myself holding back tears during the speeches and toasts on a wedding day. There's something so moving hearing the thoughts and testament of others about a couple."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Seeing so many of my couples having to make the difficult decision to downsize their weddings or elope truly exemplified the things that really matter about weddings—it's the celebration of love, even in the midst of a pandemic, it's not about the wedding size, the location, or the decor budget."
Dorothée and Annabel of Belathée Photography work to create a comfortable environment "in front of the camera so that the joy, excitement, and beauty of the event shines through." With a mix of portraiture, fine art, and lifestyle imagery, the duo's work is often described as personable—while blending artistic and classic. Based in New York City and Seattle, they have shot weddings in over 22 countries.
We Work in Weddings Because: "We get to create memories for "everyday people".. making them feel special and beautiful. It's a very rewarding job and we've had many clients turn friends over the years."
Our Favorite Moment to Capture: "There truly are so many, but we really love the energy and festive feeling of the couple and their guests hitting the dance floor—it's always uplifting and fun to capture."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "We found that "love was not canceled". In our experience, a lot of couples were flexible and adaptable but overall it was a very tough year for our industry. We are hoping 2021 will bring back a sense of normalcy and many safe celebrations."
Cameron Clark treats every client's wedding as if she was documenting her own family. Calling Flagstaff, Arizona, home, Clark calls herself an adventurer, and a creative lover of families and humor. While she is based in Arizona, Clark works on destination weddings and elopements alike. "I was hired to photograph a five day guided mountain bike tour in the Colorado alpine this summer. I have been a photographer and mountain biker all my adult life but never married the two until this summer and it was a glorious escape and adventure," Clark says.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I enjoy weddings because you have an opportunity to capture beauty amid the chaos. With weddings, you have one shot to get it right and I love the spontaneity and fast pace of the day."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "Weddings have predictable elements so my favorite moments are unplanned, unposed, and unexpected. If I can deliver images that allow my clients to relive the day, I'm happy. I love to focus on the couple during transitions, receiving toasts, or partying on the dance floor. I enjoy any photos that reveal their personalities."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "2020 taught me that the desire to start a life with someone else will always triumph over any circumstance. I was delighted to see my clients pivot with grace amidst this tenuous unprecedented situation. It was difficult to decide a clear path forward but love found a way. I made business decisions from the heart this year and supported my couples. 2020 reinforced how incredibly grateful I am to work with fabulous wedding planners, most of whom spent half the year working hard to 'make it right' for our clients. Without their efforts, my job would've been ten times harder."
It's only natural that Jackson Hole, Wyoming, photographer Carrie Patterson would be drawn to the beauty of nature and dramatic landscapes. Patterson has photographed weddings in some of the world's most spectacular settings (above!), and her technical skills matched with an intuitive eye make every project honest and genuine. "I embody a reverence for the uncontrived and am committed to genuine images that set a new standard," Patterson says.
Patterson frequently collaborates with the top wedding planners, and she brings her clients a visionary, creative, and refined approach to photography.
I Work In Weddings Because: "I have a passion for creating images rich with unfiltered emotion that endure the test of time."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "All of them! I seek the beauty that lies around the bend and the emotion hidden within a moment."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Foremost, I learned that flexibility and respect was key to my integrity. Every client's situation was unique. Choosing to handle each postponement scenario case-by-case was a critical turning point. Rather than getting caught up in single-minded cancelation and rebooking fees, I provided each of my clients a high level of care and concern by respecting and considering their unique needs."
Charla Storey's approach to weddings allows her to make everyone she works with feel like the most important person in the room. Keeping every client's personal love story in mind allows her to capture deliberate details and make space for emotional photos to shine through—all in a stress-free environment. "Being trusted by my clients and incredibly talented teams to showcase their events all over the world and building a photographers community," is what Storey counts as one of the things she's most proud of in her career.
I WorkIn Weddings Because: "It's joyful, fast pace and addicting!"
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "The moment the newlyweds walk back down the aisle! After the kiss, you can see their shoulders drop and each step of the walk back is hand in hand, smiling ear to ear, without a worry in the world. It's the purest moment of joy!"
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Moments always matter! Intimate weddings have just as much emotion, moments, and joy as a large wedding!"
Brooklyn-based Chaz Cruz has been photographing weddings for almost 14 years, and the one constant in that time has "keeping my approach lighthearted and fun," he says. "I like to preconceive wedding portraits as well as create lighting situations and setups. I see my couples as models with great love stories."
Taking an intimate and editorial approach to his photography, Cruz treats every couple as "models with great love stories." Capturing a couple's "personalities to a tee," is Cruz's ultimate goal when it comes to each project.
I Work in Weddings Because: "It's the culmination of all the highs and lows that have led up to one day."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "Portrait time is always my favorite."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "I learned in 2020 that a wedding is still and always has been, about the love between two people. No matter how many people are there to attend or what type of celebration you have, a wedding is an outward expression of the love between yourself and your partner and you can show it however you see fit."
Chi-Chi Onungwa originally had her eyes set on a career as a womenswear fashion designer. With a degree from Parsons School of Design and years in the fashion industry, Onungwa pivoted her career focus to pursue photography full-time. And we're all the luckier for it!
With an aesthetic that she describes as "natural, honest, and unassuming," Onungwa documents the unique mood of each wedding while being unintrusive and heartfelt. "The objective is simple: Create images that are timeless and impactful," she says. "My number one priority is to make sure each couple feels amazing on their wedding day which in turn translates to authentic and impactful photography."
I Work in Weddings Because: "It is an absolute honor to document a moment in history that will be passed down to multiple generations. Wedding photography is a personal and historical piece of art that ties people together like no other medium."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "I love the vibe and energy of receptions. By this point in the wedding, the couple is more relaxed and they are ready to just celebrate the moment with their friends and family. I make sure to photograph a few portraits during the reception that accurately depict the moment."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Couples are extremely resilient! When a large beautiful wedding is ideal, couples are willing to forgo their "dream wedding" and are more focused on getting married to the one they love even in the face of a global pandemic."
Christian Oth is a New York City-based photographer who has been in the business for almost 20 years. In that time, he’s captured weddings all over the world in a way that always feels fresh and refined. His secret? He approaches every wedding without expectations and instead focuses on the moments that are unconventional and emotional.
I Work in Weddings Because: "Working in weddings has been an incredible experience. I've met a lot of wonderful people all over the world."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "There are so many beautiful opportunities to capture wonderful moments, but the most precious ones are during the getting ready part and the first look."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "2020 was the year where we all went "back to basics" and re-learn to care what a wedding is all about."
In the last 19 years of shooting weddings around the world, Corbin Gurkin has come to be recognized in the industry for both her attention to detail and the way she captures emotional moments. She even recently photographed Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas’s wedding last summer in Provence.
She credits her successful career to her loose approach with photos. “Comfort and authenticity when capturing a couple’s legacy feel truly essential to the process. My final set of photographs is a blending of the spontaneous with lifestyle editorial compositions and more than anything, I want my clients to feel supported through the process.”
I Work in Weddings Because: "I feel completely wired by them and still inspired by weddings all of these years later. I just love the family dynamics, the ritual, the joy when you said goodbye at the end of the evening, the gratitude."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "The fashion lover in me really enjoys the bridal or groom portrait moment. It's a time when I get to establish a real artist-to-subject relationship with my client and I love seeing the confidence reveal itself when someone is feeling their most beautiful. Styling a veil so that the light finds its way through or turning a subject towards the right setting, it feels like this is an area where my own artistry can really come through."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "I've learned that photographing a wedding with ten guests in a family's backyard has as much meaning as a 300 person wedding at a large venue—it's not the size of the event but the honoring of that love and connection to each other that I feel most moved to capture. And this year, in particular, I've had the added feeling that we are in this together and it's made me all the closer to my clients. Micro weddings might just be my new favorite style of event."
Edward Winter knows just how special someone’s wedding day is and the way he captures everything from the environment, the fashion, the lighting, and the emotions, proves it. “My approach to photography is born out of a genuine sense of curiosity for the people I photograph and the moments that shape their lives," he says.
The Brooklyn native has been capturing these intimate moments for seven years now, but it wasn’t until 2020 that he was challenged to do it in such a unique way. During the pandemic, he photographed his first Zoom wedding and relied entirely on screen-grabs to do so. The results showed him two things: there are infinite ways to capture a wedding day and that love always prevails!
I Work in Weddings Because: "Weddings give me an intimate window to people on one of the most emotionally saturated days of their lives. As a photographer, I’m always looking for ways to connect with people through images, and there are infinite possibilities to be revealed on a wedding day."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "Personal vow readings during the ceremony. Vows are the emotional nucleus of the wedding and the reactions are priceless."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Love prevails!"
Atlanta-based photographer Elizabeth Austin-Davis launched her business in 2015, and five years later she still loves the honor of being a part of the happiest day in a couple’s life. Her passion for her job shines through her work and she credits her recognition as a top wedding photographer to the way she captures love in such an artistic way. One thing that helps set her work apart from others is the way she thinks about wedding photos as she shoots them. “My images are so much more than photos these are family memories that really mean a lot.”
I Work in Weddings Because: "I love to be apart of people's happy times. It makes me happy to go to work and I wouldn't do anything else."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "The first kiss and the couple walking out—their smiles are everything!!"
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "2020 reinforced the importance of my job as a wedding photographer. My images are so much more than photos, these are family memories that really mean a lot."
Elizabeth Messina considers wedding photos to be family heirlooms that will be passed down from generation to generation. So, for the last 20 years, she’s been approaching her wedding photography with a thoughtful eye. She takes as much pride in capturing spontaneous, emotional moments as she does taking styled detail shots because she knows they’re equally important to tell the visual story of a couple’s wedding day.
What’s so beautiful is how she takes the same approach whether she’s shooting a large celebration or a small elopement. “This summer I had the pleasure of capturing Laura and Dennis Quaid’s elopement. There were no guests, but the day was full of love, laughter, and tears. Their elopement made me realize there are meaning and beauty no matter how big or small a celebration. I went home that evening with a full heart and a deeper appreciation for my journey as a photographer.”
I Work in Weddings Because: "Love matters. Family matters. Now more than ever I think we are collectively more aware of how much the ones we love matter. As such, capturing that love, especially during these strange times feels like such an incredible honor."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "I love to capture the affection between newlyweds and the happiness of their families. There are so much tenderness, joy and genuine emotion amidst the formalities. No two couples are alike, just as no two families are alike, so each wedding unfolds like a unique flower. I strive to capture the genuine emotion each couple has for each other, as well as the happiness of those they are celebrating with. "
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Although the size and scope of weddings have changed this year, the powerful emotions remain intact. In terms of my business, I love the way my photography work is evolving. I am capturing more elopements, bridal portraits, pregnancies, and newborns. I do miss the energy of larger celebrations, but I have found great joy in honoring love and beauty in smaller more intimate moments."
Emilia Schobeiri might be a professional wedding photographer, but her approach is to capture a couple’s special moments through the lens of an invisible loved one. “This childhood hobby became a business eleven years ago and now you'll find me floating through wedding days all over the world like a friendly long-lost cousin.” The Chicago-based photographer loves adjusting the little details to make a photo look perfect, but she also loves standing back to capture the raw emotions that make a wedding day so special. At the end of the day when she’s piecing the moments together, her ultimate goal is to show “how the day really felt for years and generations to come.”
I Work in Weddings Because: "I love being a tiny piece in a beautiful puzzle of how older and younger generations will learn about and remember the formation of their families. It's such a beautiful gift."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "The first few minutes after the ceremony is complete and the couple is married, they are overjoyed and so relaxed. If I can steal them away for a minute or two in some good light, the photos promise to be magic."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "I have always loved intimate weddings as much as the epic celebrations I typically find myself photographing. It has been such a joy this year to be able to truly join my clients along with only their closest family members to be there for their most special days."
Virginia-based photographer Eric Kelley has a background in fine art photography and photojournalism, so it’s no surprise that his wedding photos always look like a work of art. Still, he knows that there’s so much more to a wedding than just styled photos, which is why he also makes sure to follow his intuition when he has his camera in his hand. As an established photographer of 15 years, he knows exactly how to turn the most important wedding moments into photos that couples will cherish forever.
I Work in Weddings Because: "It’s one of the most joyful days in our lives."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "My favorite moment on a wedding day are those few minutes right after a ceremony when I am photographing couples without any other cares in the world."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "The most important thing I learned about weddings in 2020 was that the size, the number of people, and the scope of a wedding is not important. I had numerous weddings ranging from 3 to 25 guests."
In the last 12 years, Erich McVey has shot weddings all across the globe, and just like it sounds, he considers himself to have “the best job in the world.” But no matter if he’s shooting in Oregon, where he’s based, or at a destination wedding, his approach to photography is always the same: to bring out the unique beauty and personality of each couple he works with through film and digital images.
“I want my clients to look back on their photos 50 years from now and still be able to feel that special moment in time," he adds.
McVey's passion for wedding photography has even inspired him to create an online course that teaches upcoming photographers everything he’s learned. “It may be cliché, but the phrase ‘A rising tide lifts all boats’ is true. I know I wouldn’t be the photographer I am today without mentors in my own career, and I love that I get to help other photographers who may be new to the industry or looking to pivot in their career.”
I Work in Weddings Because: "When my wife, Amy, and I got married, we created a gallery wall in our home showcasing the weddings of our parents and grandparents—my favorite is a B&W film photo of her 94-year-old grandparents cutting their wedding cake on their big day. Those photos are some of our most cherished possessions, and I love that I get to help my clients create images that their families can love and cherish for generations to come. I can't imagine doing anything else."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "I really enjoy my time shooting portraits with the couple after the ceremony or at sunset. This is often the couple's best chance to take a quiet few moments together and revel in their newlywed joy. It's also my best opportunity to work with beautiful light and get creative."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "One of the most profound things I’ve witnessed in 2020 is the immeasurable value of community. So many couples who had weddings planned for 2020 have had to make difficult decisions. Rescheduling, making backup plans A, B, and C, and then throwing it all out when things need to change once again. One thing that has remained at the forefront of all my client’s planning and rescheduling discussions has been who will be there to celebrate with them. It’s been a great reminder that while beautiful portraits of the couple are important, it is just as important to capture those candid moments of guests at cocktail hour, of grandparents dancing during the reception, of the college friends embracing the bride in a congratulatory group hug. Community matters and 2020 has inspired me to recommit to creating photographic keepsakes celebrating each couple’s community as part of their wedding-day story."
Erika Layne is no stranger to the wedding photography business. In fact, she’s been happily capturing the unity between two people for an entire decade. Still, after shooting countless weddings, there’s one thing she will never take for granted: the honor of capturing the love story of so many diverse couples. She credits attracting such a diverse group of clients to her hands-off photography approach that allows her to show the special connection between two people in a natural and beautiful way. “The best gift my clients could give me is to be themselves.”
I Work in Weddings Because: "I believe in connection and unity."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "I love the time I get to spend with just the couple. Not only is it a calm quiet moment for me to slow down and think more creatively, but more importantly, it's a quiet moment for the couple to soak in each other and what this day means to them."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "It confirmed my love of small intimate weddings and the importance of boiling things down to the simple elements. Each couple gets to decide what is most important for their unique circumstances and embrace the freedom of flexibility."
Ryan and Heidi Browne are the talented Brooklyn-based creatives behind the well-known collective, Forged in the North. In the last seven years, they have built a team of wedding photographers and cinematographers who all love getting to capture a couple’s most special moments...and that have all gone on to be recognized as some of the best in the industry, too! What sets Forged in the North apart from other photographers (while simultaneously bringing those within the collective together), is their focus on the spontaneous, heartfelt moments that make each wedding day unique. “We are a club of like-minded artists all cut from the same creative cloth.”
I Work in Weddings Because: "We get to spend the best day of peoples' lives with them."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "If I had to narrow it down, portraits of the couple and anything spontaneous and heart-felt that happens throughout the day."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "All the bells and whistles that come along with weddings are completely secondary to the real reason people have them at all—to celebrate and honor the love of two people."
Nothing inspires Las Vegas-based photographer Gaby J more than love. After 10 years, she still brings a certain excitement that shines through her work when she captures the “gentleness, luminous, and meaningful love” between two people on their wedding day.
Her passion for wedding photography has even inspired her to think beyond the typical wedding moments. She now has started offering bridal boudoir sessions on polaroid film, too! “I utilize boudoir photography as a way to empower women, promote body-positivity, and cultivate self-esteem.”
I Work in Weddings Because: "I work in weddings because I love capturing raw emotions between a couple!"
Favorite Moment to Capture: "My favorite moment to capture at a wedding is when the couple runs down the aisle after saying their I dos! There's an emotional high and relief followed by tears and laughter that just doesn't happen any other time throughout the day."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "I live in Las Vegas where elopements (aka micro weddings) started years ago. I think more couples are starting to realize they don't need a fully packed wedding to get married! Elopements are just as meaningful."
Hannah Costello started her wedding career with a bang by capturing Whitney Port and Tim Rosenman’s special day five years ago. Since then, the Los Angeles/Palm Springs-based photographer has gone on to refine her style to be what it is today: modern yet timeless. “I strive to highlight the in-between moments, personalities, and a couples’ unique dynamic, all with a high fashion vibe.”
This specific style has gained her huge popularity in the industry and she’s even recently expanded her team. She credits her success to always keeping an open mind when it comes to capturing each couple’s big day, especially because each relationship is so different. “The light and the environment are key influences, but more than anything, people are my inspiration. I have a background in Social Work and a deep passion for people, their stories, and who they are connected to on a soul level.”
I Work in Weddings Because: "Weddings are one of the most treasured life events. I strive to document stories and people’s best versions of themselves from a day that will go down in history. I want people to remember these moments and be able to relive them, forever."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "The moment after the recessional when the couple is away from everyone else! The emotions are running high now that it’s “official” and there’s so much excitement, relief, and pure joy. It’s a sweet moment before joining the party, and everything sets in."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "People are looking forward to weddings more than ever. They’re more cherished than ever. I love that my couples are focused on what they truly desire and want, pivoting gracefully with open minds and making it work for them and their loved ones. Weddings and celebrations will always be a part of life and are necessary, whatever way they take shape."
Jeremy Harwell finds inspiration in many places—"love, art, different cultures, great food, and faraway places." The New Yorker-turned-Georgia countryside resident is no stranger to creativity, having spent eight years as creative director for Ralph Lauren's New York stores, and working as a photojournalist. His style is a mix of all of these creative endeavors. "As Tennyson said in Ulysses, 'I am a part of all I have met,'" Harwell says.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I absolutely love what I do! To be able to capture two people at one of the happiest times in their life, people who have found one another and chosen to spend the rest of their lives together, awesome! To have the opportunity to be a small part of their journey, and experience their love for each other is truly magic."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "The moment after a [couple] leaves their ceremony, there is so much joy, relief, and excitement."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "I believe the pandemic has refined my vision of what is most important in capturing weddings and that is the beauty of love, friendship, commitment, and the humanity that bind us all together."
Heather Jowett's approach to her clients—she makes offering the best possible service one of the biggest priorities in her business—has landed her at the top of her field, and also as an educator on customer service around the globe.
Based in Detroit, Jowett loves to find the "moments, beautiful and candid, big and small" that define a couple's love story. "My favorite photographs are of the honest in-between moments that really tell the story of a couple," she says.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I love to be surprised. No two days at work are ever the same for me."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "Toasts, hands down. They're the ideal "box of chocolate" moment, you never know what you're going to get. Sometimes they're funny, sometimes they're sweet, sometimes they're earnest."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "From a business standpoint, I've always prided myself on being able to roll with the punches and be flexible, but 2020 has really hammered the importance of that home for me. On a personal level, I grew tremendously in my respect for my couples who faced the challenges presented to them by a global pandemic with surprisingly good spirits. I also learned to never take being able to gather with those you love for granted because it's not guaranteed."
Brooklyn-based Heather Waraksa has been capturing weddings with a natural approach for over 15 years. "With each wedding, there is some pre-visualization when it comes to capturing portraiture, location, and details but otherwise I prefer to let the moments unfold naturally and without direction," she says. She ultimately wants the images to show heart, and stand the test of time.
I Wor in Weddings Because: "I was hooked the first time I shot a wedding for a friend in the Turks and Caicos. It's fun, thrilling, challenging, and emotional all rolled into one. I love the human connection and lovefest, being surrounded by beauty, working with incredibly talented vendors, being whisked away to far off places and every weekend completely immersing myself into a place and time that I would otherwise not have access to."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "The recessional where everyone is celebratory always leads to an album-worthy moment. That never gets old for me. And then there's the less expected, surprise, and nuanced moments that are most rewarding to capture—the story within the story."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "I'm amazed at the resilience of couples right now and how they've been able to see the silver lining given the unique times we're in. There's been a lot of reevaluation and perhaps the need to reimagine how to say 'I do." This has been an invitation for couples to focus on the elements that are a priority to them and the opportunity to get creative with location, format, and fashion."
Husband-and-wife team Dana and Zak Curran have been photographing weddings in New England for more than ten years. Boasting a relaxed and intuitive approach to documenting a wedding day, the couple's work shows real emotion—"big heartfelt hugs, quiet loving glances, and belly laughs." "The stories we are able to tell through each photo, we hope, become family heirlooms for many generations to come," they tell us.
We Work in Weddings Because: "There is something so powerful in creating work that could literally outlive us. Photographs tell our stories, shift narratives, and are the only thing left representing us at the end of the day. Our responsibility as photographers is to create space for our subjects to be vulnerable and leave a bit of their true selves in the image."
Our Favorite Moment to Capture: "Grandpas."
What We Learned About Weddings in 2020: "The future has always been uncertain, live for today."
Morgan Olsen started In Frames Photography six years ago with a simple approach to weddings. "I remind myself that it's an honor to be witnessing someone's unconditional love and then I let the day flow," Olsen says. The Utah-based creative calls herself a world-traveling wedding photographer. "I'm not your typical wedding photographer," she tells us. "I'm someone who truly invests in my couples and becomes their friend because I want my work to reflect honest moments with a little bit of spice!"
I Work in Weddings Because: "I love documenting history for people."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "I would say overall, it's the moment that it hits them that they're married."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "That love is patient and forgiving. I've watched so many people go through really difficult decisions regarding their weddings and it breaks my heart. It's never ideal to reschedule or downsize, but one thing always stays constant—love."
Volodymyr Ivash has been shooting weddings in New York since 2010 but has shot more than 600 weddings in over 30 countries around the world. "Wedding photography empowers me to discover different cultures, traditions, nationalities," he tells us. “I am passionate about my work and eager to see all our clients pleased with the result of our efforts, and the process itself to be easy and comfortable”
I Work in Weddings Because: "It's a chance to feel the emotions of the newlyweds, to capture priceless moments with their parents and friends, as well as directing of interesting shots—all this fills me with creativity and gets a thrill out of my work."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "I like to shoot pictures with the bride and her dad, I like the moment when the bride walks down the aisle, I think these moments are the most emotional."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "For me, it was a year to make a stop, review values, set up new goals, and make my new business strategy for the next 10 years."
London-native Jacqui Cole now calls Tampa, Florida home, and has been capturing weddings all over the world for over a decade. Her approach is to capture honest moments, with a soft touch—all with her clients' vision in mind. As such, Cole and her team are there for their clients every step of the way, working closely with planners and venues to make sure every detail is taken into account. "My team and I strive to not only be our clients’ photographers but also their guides throughout the day to ensure they can relax and enjoy their celebrations," Cole says.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I love connecting with my clients and capturing the love between them and their families and friends. Each day is completely different, just like each relationship is unique. There is a certain magic to capturing that love."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "Having lost my dad at a young age, all the special moments between a bride or groom with their father pull at my heartstrings."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Throughout the pandemic, my clients have shown incredible patience and resilience. I have learned that, despite obstacles, people will find a way to celebrate love in one way or another. I have always been in this business for my clients and keeping perspective throughout the year has allowed me to continue to produce special memories for my clients while maintaining health and safety precautions."
For twenty years Denver-based duo James Christianson and Otto Schulze have served their clients around the globe with a "vision of the truly exceptional." Their approach combines editorial, documentary, and fine art styles and they aim to "capture clients in their most true form."
We Work in Weddings Because: "We live for collaboration!"
Our Favorite Moment to Capture: "Anything that is real and unscripted."
What We Learned About Weddings in 2020: "People want to connect with other people. No matter what!"
New York City-based photographer Jenny Fu has been working in weddings for almost a decade. "My approach to a wedding day is continuously searching to catch the tiniest moments and expressions that make a day memorable," Fu says. "My goal for every wedding is to capture the spirit of the day and document a love story my couples can look back on and feel the magic, happiness, and emotions all over again."
I Work in Weddings Because: "I work in weddings because I take pride in the memories that couples will pass down for generations, and documenting this incredible life event for my couples is a dream come true for me."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "My favorite moment to capture at a wedding is the authentic moments that show the love and celebration of a wedding day. These moments can happen at any time. For example, the bride is getting ready, and the nerves start to set in, and she cannot believe her day is finally here. Or when the parents see their child for the first time and are in awe of how beautiful they look. Vows and speeches are some of the best parts because you understand the couple's love on a deeper level and why it has brought this group of people to this particular place and time."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "At the beginning of 2020, I thought the wedding industry would not be back for several years. I was terrified that the career I had worked so hard for vanished. In 2020, I've discovered couples are still madly in love, and love is not canceled. I've seen how my couples have adjusted and changed weddings by cutting down their guest list or gifting masks and sanitizer as favors. Most importantly, I've learned that nothing can stop the human spirit from continuing to celebrating love!"
Husband-and-wife team Jenny and Will Haas makeup Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio-based Jenny Haas Photography. The duo has captured hundreds of weddings, both domestically and internationally for over a decade—all with the timeless approach that captures grace, beauty, and romanticism.
I Work in Weddings Because: "In my office, there’s a black-and-white photo of my grandparents eating their wedding cake. This image means the world to me, it brings me joy to see it every day. I want my couples—and their grandchildren—to experience that same joy, the joy of memory."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "I really enjoy so many moments throughout the day, but would have to say my favorite would be the first look between the bride and her father—there's a very special bond between father and daughter and there are so many emotions at the moment. I also enjoy photographing my couples at the reception during the speeches/dancing and all of the raw moments when no one is focusing on where I'm pointing my lens!"
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "The 2020 wedding season has taught me to slow down and focus on what matters: love and commitment. The flowers, incredible decor, music, lights, and dancing are all secondary. None of it matters without the intimate exchange of vows—two people willing to sacrifice all they are to each other, for the rest of their lives, in sickness and health."
Joel Serrato takes a documentarian approach to photographing weddings. The California-based photographer likes to take the time to get to know his clients and make them comfortable, first and foremost, so that he can create the best work for them. "Trust is earned and I make it clear that I’m here for them and they begin to let me in, and i create moments for them," Serrato says.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I love the crazy!"
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "I’m a sucker for a first look."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "The value of celebration, and what’s important is family!"
Though Jordan Voth is based in Seattle, he's often found shooting in weddings in California, Arizona, and Utah. "I love lush forests and mountains we have here in Washington but I'm also a sucker for the desert," Voth says. Voth loves to incorporate landscapes and surrounding scenery into his work, and that love of nature truly comes through in his awe-inspiring imagery.
I Work in Weddings Because: "Because it's a giant party and it's a blast being around people on such a happy day. And I've been able to see some incredible places."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "The ceremony and portraits."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "To be flexible and always put your clients first. We're all in this together."
Jose Villa Photography's long-standing work in the wedding industry (he's been in the business since 2002) has stood out in this highly competitive market because he focuses on the beauty of the day. After all, he did shoot the iconic images of Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra's beautiful wedding. "For me, it is all about making something beautiful. Ultimately, my goal is to craft vibrant, energetic, fine art images that are as unique as the people in the photographs," Villa says.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I get to capture raw moments that only I can make with my camera."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "When the couple recesses down the aisle after their first kiss...These moments can never be recreated."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "That going back to basics in weddings is all we really need."
Joshua Dwain Frith and his wife, Anyeka, are the owners of Joshua Dwain Photography, based in Brooklyn. With more than 11 years of experience as wedding photographers, Joshua and Anyeka are heavily influenced by documentary and editorial photography and bring that approach into the world of weddings. "Our work is reflective of the rich color and Caribbean influence of the people and culture which surround us," Frith says.
We Work in Weddings Because: "We love telling stories."
Our Favorite Moment to Capture: "We get this question a lot. It's funny because we love it all—from pre-ceremony prep straight through to the reception."
What We Learned About Weddings in 2020: "We learned that weddings can evolve because of events that transpired in 2020. We also learned of the lengths that couples will go to to have a wedding. It isn't just about the union—it's also about the love of their tribes and those closest to them."
Manhattan-based Judy Pak started out as an attorney before turning to photography as a creative outlet. A decade later and she's shooting beautiful images with an artistic commitment to each client. Shooting a limited number of weddings per year allows her and her team to give it all to each client. "We embrace the imperfections of film photography that becomes layers of texture and add substance, character, and consistency to our work. It's truly a labor of love, but one I've felt our clients truly appreciate," Pak says.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I am a wife and mother of four kids, so my instinctive pull towards intimate moments is something that I am naturally drawn to while fueling my artistic pursuits."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "Getting ready...the anticipation makes for memorable images. Walking down the aisle as a newly married couple...expressions are always natural and filled with overflowing joy."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "A good reminder that weddings are about celebrating love and life...nothing else needs to go as planned."
Austin, Texas-based Justin Douglas took his queue for photography from music. Creating emotional moments frozen in time is at the core of his creative vision. "I know it might sound strange but I photograph "moments" that one can look back on and smile instead of dwelling in any pain," Douglas says. "The pain of not having a memory frozen in time that could bring you so much joy."
I Work in Weddings Because: "It brings me joy that I can create something that will never be forgotten."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "My favorite moments to capture are the ones full of emotion. Emotions come in different forms but no matter the emotion being conveyed it's a feeling that comes over the space."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "That it isn't the number of people at your wedding that makes it special, but the quality of the loved ones who share it with you. The truth to weddings has been revealed in my eyes for you truly can feel who's invested in the couple's success."
Michigan-based Kaylea Moreno shot her first wedding while living in Portugal in 2015. Living abroad and spending most of her early career all over the world has given her the opportunity to shoot weddings across different cultures, directly impacting her approach. "I adore culture, deep tradition, and observing the way in which each of us uniquely does life through these lenses," she says. "I want my couples to feel these cherished moments and sentiments are translated into their imagery."
I Work in Weddings Because: "I work in weddings because I get to capture the true emotion of a family's most cherished and emotional days. It is a deep privilege that isn't lost on me."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "I come alive when I am photographing a couple's first moments alone after the ceremony. Couples portraits are my favorite portion of the day. I love being able to give my couples editorial, timeless and emotive images."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "I think I actually unlearned a lot in 2020 regarding weddings! I think so much was stripped down and the weddings that went forward were such intimate affairs that it pushed me to slow down and create more meaningful work."
"Most simply put, I make heirlooms," states Kate Headley of her wedding photography. Taking an unobtrusive approach, Headley ultimately aims to capture artful, emotional images. "My job is to help create something that bonds a new family— and families are the most important things in our lives." The Washinton, D.C.-based photographer shoots across the East Coast and Michigan.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I'm honored to help create something that begins a bond for a new family—and families are the most important things in our lives."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "The 'in-between' moment."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "We cannot take time with our families for granted so documenting memories, in 2020 and in the coming years, is so important."
Kiyah Crittendon's company is all about celebrating connection, and is "rooted in creatively reflecting the truth and beauty of life." Taking an "intentional visual storytelling" approach, Crittendon shoots in both film and digital, to ultimately capture her clients' personality and each couple's unique bond. Crittendon has been shooting weddings in Atlanta and Washington, D.C., since 2014.
I Work in Weddings Because: "Because I'm inspired by truth, captivated by the beauty, and passionate about people. Weddings are a perfect combination of the three."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "I'm most drawn to emotion. Thankfully, wedding days come with an abundance of emotional moments from tearful first looks to endearing family bonds to belly laughter during toasts. My favorite moments are any time that uninhibited emotions come forth."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "What a year. Overall, in 2020, I learned that tomorrow is not promised, life is fleeting, and no one but God is in control. This translated into weddings as I witnessed people stripping down to having just who and what mattered most to them in realization and surrender to the fact that all we have is the here and now."
Kristen Marie Parker takes mixes photojournalism and an editorial eye to capture what she calls the "casual timelessness" of weddings. "My goal is to make sure that everyone can still be immersed in the flow of the emotions and adrenaline of the day without making it feel like a photography production," Parker says. She has been shooting weddings for over 11 years in Seattle.
I Work in Weddings Because: "There's so many moments that go on through decades of relationships and a huge variety of personality types. Despite many weddings having the same structure of events, each wedding is completely different because the couple is different."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "A big tie between those first few moments in celebration as a married couple and any moments that might happen between family throughout the day. I know that parents and family members have been dreaming up their special day for many years and that their own witnessing of the day is just as important to document as the couple's."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "2020 weddings were certainly adaptable because people are adaptable. Despite some couples rescheduling and some choosing to stick with their date but a smaller guest list, there is just as much happiness in a COVID (and COVID-safe!) wedding as there will be for those couples who've decided to reschedule. Love and celebration still prevail and it doesn't necessarily matter what it looks like, but it matters how it feels. You can have an exceptional event by sharing your vows in front of a small select few and packing a COVID-safe meal in a basket!"
Working in both exclusive destination weddings, editorials, and bridal campaigns (she shoots all of Monique Lhuillier's campaigns), photographer KT Merry's certainly renowned in the industry. A passionate conservation activist, Merry's Render Loyalty project works to support threatened species.
Her approach to weddings takes a cue from her background in fashion and editorials—doing extensive research and preparation before shooting and working together with a couple and their planning team to carefully curating a shot plan for the day, while still aiming to capture those spontaneous moments. "The end result is a layered, textured visual story with a fresh, yet classic feel that imbues the essence of each couple and the emotion of their day," she says. This October, Merry shot Eunice Kennedy Shriver's intimate wedding, where the bride wore her grandmother's 67-year-old Dior wedding dress.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I’ve never found something so intimately rewarding as well as so incredibly challenging. They bring us to the core of human nature and challenge us in our craft each and every time. They allow us to be apart of legacies being written and that is always powerful."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "My favorite moment to capture at a wedding day is the couple just after they are announced married. Most often they become fully present and swept into the moment and forget the cameras are even there."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "We learned that gathering to celebrate is a privilege that, dare I say, most of us took for granted. We learned that having your nearest and dearest friends and family take part in your celebrations is an honor. We also learned that weddings are so much more than the details of the day, that ultimately, traditions and perceived requirements were meant to be re-written to truly embody the couple who is marrying. And, ultimately whether there are no guests or many, it’s about celebrating the love of two people that is the most important."
Chicago-based Kyle John's takes an "at-ease" approach to photographing each wedding in order "to display the raw beauty and emotion in each moment." Drawing inspiration from the natural, organic, and genuine, he aims to make each image feel authentic, and that shines across in his work.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I love relationships and the connections made with my client."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "Hands down, the first look."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "That love and the celebration of love, supersedes guest counts."
Based in Santa Barbara, CA, Lacie Hansen knew from the age of 17 that she wanted photography to be her life. She's photographed weddings all over the world since 2009 and strives to create something new and refreshing for each client. "I chase the candid and emotional moments with a quiet journalistic approach using color and black & white film," Hansen says.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I love, love! No two weddings are the same and this allows me to create and be artistic with each wedding."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "The small subtle moments. After a directed photo of the couple and or guests when no one is watching. These candid, real, honest moments are my favorite to photograph."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "This year has taught me to be adaptable and to embrace the new normal. Working closely with planners and clients to find the best solution, while still creating a beautiful story no matter the guest count or size of the wedding."
It was in 2005, while attending Kendall College of Art and Design, that San Francisco-based Larissa Cleveland started her photography business. A classically trained photographer, Cleveland's approach is to be a documenter of the wedding day—creating authentic and meaningful imagery. "I want to make images that bleed passion and color, seep humor and excitement, and expose the beautiful, whimsical, spontaneous moments of real life, family, and love," Cleveland says.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I'm honored to help couples capture the love and joy they experience...Moments they can look back on for years to come!"
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "I think my most favorite time might be just after the ceremony has ended...The walk down the aisle hand in hand after they have proclaimed 'I Do,' the family cheering, endless hugging, happy tears, and a big sigh of relief...It all happens in a momentary flurry, but it is when I often capture some of the most powerful and emotion-packed images from a wedding day."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "This year of photographing intimate celebrations during a pandemic has been a reminder of what is truly important on a wedding day... It's being with the people in your life who mean the most to you. It's the saying of your vows. It's cherishing the happy times in between the tough ones. It's realizing the good fortune of having found the person you want to take on life's hills and valleys with. Don't sweat the small things, and embrace the imperfections as they are what make for a memorable and worthwhile story."
Colorado-based Laura Murray has been shooting weddings for over a decade. It's hard to imagine this artistic creative first set out for a corporate career with a degree in theoretical mathematics. It was only when planning her own wedding that she realized that her own wedding photographer had her dream job.
Capturing each client's unique story is key to Murray's approach. But so is flexibility. "I have seen every possible scenario—from blizzards to floods and to the most picturesque sunny days. And now I can say I survived 2020," says Murray.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I work in weddings because it is quite literally my passion manifested into a dream job. I am an optimist to the core. When I photograph a wedding day, guests often ask me if I ever stop smiling. I would tell them no, I never stop smiling because I truly love my job."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "My ideal client values artistry and emotion so naturally my favorite moments on a wedding day are when those two elements come together. Perhaps, it’s the emotion in getting ready combined with a gorgeous gown. Or I love a touching first dance with the artistry of the live band’s performance. Or a ceremony filled with personal readings and gorgeous floral design in a breathtaking setting. I always love to see art and emotion come together."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "I learned that our industry and clients are resilient! I know we have all been handed a tough situation this year, but I’m inspired by all the silver linings my clients and vendors have shared with me. We cannot control certain circumstances but we can control our reaction to them."
Sisters Lauren and Abby Ross credit their mother with getting them interested in photography, natural light, and the importance of travel and art. Counting natural light as their top priority, the Calfornia-based duo's approach ensures their clients are calm and at ease so they can capture the genuine emotion of the day.
I Work in Weddings Because: "It's a ritual that everyone celebrates in their own unique way. We feel so blessed to be a part of that celebration of love."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "Our favorite moment(s) to capture are the spontaneous candid ones that happen when the light is golden!"
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "2020 has proved that a wedding with two people can be just as soulful as a wedding with a few hundred people."
Lauren Fair has been photographing weddings across the globe for over a decade. With a relaxed and organic style, Fair and her team capture what feels like effortless wedding photos with an editorial edge, she calls it. Based in Philadelphia, Fair's focus is on destination weddings, with about 80 percent of her work involving traveling. "Our photography focuses on joy-filled, exquisite, and iconic images full of beautiful light and natural emotion," Fair says.
I Work in Weddings Because: "They are living, breathing days full of joy, chaos, beauty, breathtaking locations, and community within the wedding team all working together for a similar common goal: give our clients the best possible memories of their life."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "The recessional is such a happy moment full of joy! I also love capturing those effortless golden hour portraits for my couples."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "While 2020 was certainly a hard year for the wedding industry, we all learned how resilient wedding vendors are. I truly enjoyed photographing some of the smaller micro-weddings and elopements that couples opted for, and it's more apparent now than ever that love is really what you need in this world."
"My approach to photography is pretty simple- keep it brutally honest. I never want two weddings to look or feel the same," Laurken Kendall says. Developing a deep relationship with each couple is key to this brutally honest approach she says. Based in Spokane, WA, Kendall doesn't take for granted the importance of a wedding day to each family. "I like grit and tears and a wild rumpus and I think every wedding has at least two of those, so I make it my life's work to seek them out," she says.
I Work in Weddings Because: "They're chaotic and fun and intense and insightful. Watching the love of two people bring people together in unexpected ways is a great privilege."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "I am all about the reception dance party. It is always the most unpredictable time period for every wedding. You never know if there's going to be a fight or a six-foot-tall disco ball piñata. I love the unpredictability of the whole scene."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "From a business standpoint, I learned that solid contract terminology is imperative, as it was a rough year for a lot of people in the industry due to vague contracts. From a human standpoint, I learned that as sappy as it sounds, love truly always finds a way. Several of my couples have opted to scale way down and not wait for a better time, choosing instead to Skype with their friends and family for the ceremony and even for toasts and always lots of tears. It's definitely felt more intimate and emotional than the larger weddings in many ways because the couples have been separated from their loved ones for a long time."
We have Linda McQueen to thank for one of the most powerful wedding moments of 2020—a beautiful couple experiences their first look during a Black Lives Matter protest in Philadelphia, a moment McQueen treasures as one of the highlights of her career. The Haitian-born photographer, who has captured 300 weddings, is a true believer in love. "I am a hopeless romantic and believe love solves everything. I love seeing people in love and believe in pushing forward no matter what," she tells us. She counts getting to know a couple and their families so they relax and trust her as paramount to capturing the best images of them.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I work in weddings because well to be completely cliché—I love love! I love being invited into one of the most important days of the lives of others. I love meeting new people, I love the food, and the partying! I can’t imagine doing anything else."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "My favorite moment to capture at a wedding would be the very first moment a groom or bride sees his or her significant other down the aisle. It’s then that, as a photographer, I await to see every raw emotion, from tears, happiness, and sometimes the anxiety of planning and finally this is the moment they’ve been awaiting."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Earlier this year I had 64 weddings planned and slowly I shot only 11 of the 64. I learned it doesn’t matter how many guests one has, in the end, all that matters is love."
In her twenty-two years of shooting weddings, Liz Banfield has helped pioneer and cement “documentary-style” wedding photography, which is now the industry standard. She keeps her style consistent and doesn’t chase trends, which gives her photos a timeless quality that won’t become dated after a few years. Based out of Minneapolis, she limits the number of weddings she takes each season, so she can give each one special care.
Banfield strives to make the photography process “effortless” for the couple. “I’m deeply inspired by motion and true, authentic moment,” she explains. “I cultivate an atmosphere where clients can relax and be themselves.”
I Work in Weddings Because: "My creativity thrives in big love, high pressure, supremely creative environments."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "I love it all but especially during and immediately after the [couple] walk down the aisle. Pure magic!"
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "A small wedding can be just as amazing as a big one. Also, it was affirming—when I could finally shoot again, I was reminded how much I love it."
Logan Cole’s eleven years of photography experience spans everything from music tour photography, humanitarian work, and fashion shoots. His vast wealth of experience has taught him to capitalize on his surroundings and seize the moment—whether the wedding takes place on a bright day or in a dark church. His most famous, most spontaneous project is Debby Ryan and Josh Dun’s whirlwind wedding, planned in only twenty-eight days.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I work in weddings because my clients cherish and appreciate my art for years to come, long after the special day is over."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "Honestly, the end of the night when the couple finally lets loose and dances the night away is my favorite moment to capture! I get pure joy out of photographing people having the time of their lives! Plus, I love to play around with flashes and lighting after dark."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "You should always include a pandemic clause in your wedding contract. Although, in retrospect, It’s a little too late for that! Also no matter the circumstances of the crazy world, people will always cherish photographs of loved ones, especially in times like these."
Born in London and based in New Orleans, Ollie Alexander photographs under the alias “Love is Rad!” “Love IS rad,” he explains, “and it’s worth capturing moments big or small.” He likes to blend in on wedding days, so the images feel like they were taken by a loving guest (who happens to be a professional photographer with a fancy camera).
I Work in Weddings Because: "Always being surrounded by so much love doesn't feel like work at all!"
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "One of my all-time favorite moments to capture on a wedding day is whenever the couple sneaks away to see their reception decor and details for the very first time during the cocktail hour. The looks on their faces are always priceless once they see everything come to life!"
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "This year I learned that nothing is stronger than love. A huge shout out to my 2020 couples that pivoted to a smaller and more intimate setting and to my couples that postponed the big day until next year. Cheers!"
Lucy Cuneo, who recently moved to Martha’s Vineyard from Charleston, has a romantic, dreamy, joyful, and colorful style. The most important quality she brings to her wedding photography, though, is honesty. “Our main goal is to make the couple feel as relaxed as possible in front of the camera, so their full personalities are revealed,” she explains. “We want the experience to be fun and natural… without being intrusive.” For her weddings, she delivers not just beautiful photos of the couple and their families, but portraits of every guest as well.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I love people and families and capturing and it is a joy to hand over a full selection of their most precious memories."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "I love the romance of a candlelit dinner, catching the conversations, laughter, and joy that the couple, family, and guests are experiencing."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "That all a wedding really needs to be special is a couple who are in love and totally in-the-moment. Everything else can wait."
Lynn Dunston combines a photojournalistic approach with an editorial eye in wedding photography. She’s inspired by clean and minimal designs, and her style is romantic and light. Based in Northern California and Washington DC, she spends her free time with her children, watching movies, exploring California’s beaches, and cultivating their passions for photography.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I love documenting the love, creativity, and soul that's unique to every wedding."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "[Couple] portraits."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "I learned that the wedding industry and couples are resilient. It's been heartening to see couples pivot their large wedding plans to more intimate celebrations, which allows them to celebrate their love in more of an intentional way that is truly reflective of the couple."
San Diego-based Matoli Keely is not only a photographer but a scientist too! She finds that having two very different passions "surprisingly influence each other and makes me excel at both pursuits." She ultimately considers herself a storyteller when it comes to her weddings, and aims to have couples see themselves and their love visually in a new way through her lens. "I think there is great value in the in-between moments, which is why I love narrating a love story and then adding an additional editorial flair to the storytelling," Keely says.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I love that I get to share in such a monumental moment with families and provide heirloom photographs that last generations. It is incredibly rewarding to tell a couple's love story through my eyes and have the revel in seeing themselves in ways they never imagined."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "Call me a traditionalist but the vow exchange at the alter is my absolute favorite moment. This is why everyone has traveled and has come to celebrate; witnessing their family member begins a new life-changing path. I especially love when couples write personal vows and we get an insight into the private jokes, their laughter, their love for each other, and their promises for their lives together. The ceremony gets me every single time."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "I learned that love is enough in 2020. I had 70 percent of my weddings for the year postponed to 2021 and even 2022. I saw couples struggle with the decision to change their date or to have a smaller celebration now and then safely gather with friends and family later on. It was amazing to see couples not want to wait to say “I do”, and I’m thankful I got to be part of these smaller more intimate celebrations."
Minneapolis-based Matt Lien has been capturing weddings all around the globe for over a decade. Lien's approach to wedding day photography is to let the moments unfold, and not take a couple away from their own wedding. "Nothing contrived, just real and authentic. Just how you want to remember it," Lien says. The responsibility of telling a couple's love story is utmost for Lien, who sets out to "document every wedding in a creative and honest way."
I Work in Weddings Because: "They give me such a variety of things to capture. Weddings have fashion, personalities, travel, location, details, and emotion, to name a few. This keeps my job fun and interesting."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "Weddings are fast-paced, sometimes chaotic, raw, and beautiful. Being able to be in the mix of the whole thing from start to end and capture all the in-between moments is what is so special for me. Sometimes my favorite images are the most unexpected, and I’ve always loved that."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Whether my clients had to postpone or go back to the drawing board and create something special for the 10 people involved, it showed me that weddings are what you make of them and as long as you’re focused on the right things, it's going to be special and memorable."
Working in Woodstock, New York, Mel Barlow takes a patient and non-obtrusive approach to wedding days. Getting her couples and their families to get up and moving around is also key to capturing their energy for Barlow. "People start moving around a bit and they begin to realize this is just another wonderful day in life and let their guard down," she says.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I want to capture a true, beautiful and thoughtful record of each special day. I want people to be able to say 'wow, this is really me, or this is so us.'"
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "There are always those “ah-ha“ moments while shooting any subject, it could be any moment in time, but it feels like a little something extra shines through. I search for these moments, and capturing them makes me feel like I’m really on to something and that keeps me craving more."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "In 2020, we all had to step it up. We had to have each other's backs in a much bigger way than an average year. Weddings were canceled and shifted, which had huge impacts on couples and families and on the other side, it impacted those servicing the weddings as well. It was tricky to navigate but I was constantly encouraged by the grace and kindness people were showing each other during this time."
As a "fly on the wall," Oklahoma City-based Melissa Marshall aims to make her clients feel like she's an "old friend hanging out with them." This approach allows her to capture the small moments that could go unnoticed, and also help and guide wherever needed.
She recently shot model Devon Windsor's extravagant three-day wedding. " It's the hardest job I've ever worked on, but it was an incredible experience and one where I was proud of how my journey and hard work had led me there," she shares.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I work in weddings because I love to capture the love and connection between two people—each couple has their own quirks and inside jokes and ways to express their passion—the love I capture on wedding days inspires my work."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "I love the moments at the end of the ceremony—after my couples say "I do" and kiss and turn to face the crowd. I love the proud and excited smiles they both have on their faces as they practically skip down the aisle together as a married couple."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Love conquers all—and weddings are truly only about two people, two families joining as one. Everything and everyone else is just the background characters to a greater love story."
With a background in medicine, Dallas-based Meme Crayton took a leap of faith and followed her passion for photography starting in 2018. With a documentary approach, her company focuses on "all of the genuine joy, love, intimacy, and laughter throughout the day." Getting involved with a couple right from the beginning of planning is paramount for her own process. "We're highly involved in the planning process from beginning to end, as we feel that this truly yields the best results and fosters long-lasting relationships with every one of our couples," Crayton says.
I Work in Weddings Because: "A wedding day seemingly goes by in the blink of an eye. If not for the magic of photographs, the spontaneous and intimate moments that occur would otherwise become fleeting memories. We give these memories permanence."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "My absolute favorite moment to capture during weddings, is the time during the formal portraits. It's a still, quiet moment for them to decompress and come out of their shells, and I just love capturing the heightened-emotion and passion during this part of the day."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "In 2020, I've learned that love will forever triumph over any and all circumstances. The amount of tears I've seen flowing, the stories I've heard, and the resilience I've witnessed in spite of this virus, has been amazing to witness, and has demonstrated the strength of the human spirit."
"I absolutely love the fact that I wake up every morning and truly live my purpose," says New Orleans, LA-based Moesia Davis. Counting on motivation and encouragement from her family, Davis has loved every minute of documenting weddings and gives 100 percent to her couples throughout the entire process. "You can't be selfish in an industry that requires your attention to focused so much on other people."
I Work in Weddings Because: "I believe in love; real and unconditional love! I didn't think I was an emotional person until I started photographing weddings. There are some moments that are so unreal and ethereal. Wedding days are the days I feel the love in a way that's indescribable. It's the day when you actually see the love in a physical presence."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "When a bride or groom sees themselves completely dressed for the first time is such a great moment to capture. I think they finally realize that they're about to become someone's wife or husband. You can see it in their eyes and it translates to pure joy on camera."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Love will always find a way! Although some weddings were postponed, love still found a way. I never saw the look of disappointment in any of my couples. Instead, they were grateful for intimate weddings. They were grateful for an opportunity to keep their family and friends safe, healthy."
Based in Nashville, Natalie Watson started her career as a photojournalist two decades ago. With a degree from Savannah College of Art & Design, she combines her fine art sensibility with her love for reportage. "My work combines the rich texture and natural color of film with spontaneous moments. That blended style, I hope, is both artful and timeless," Watson says.
I Work in Weddings Because: "We take so many photos in a lifetime that images often feel disposable or meaningless. Wedding photos are the opposite. Weddings are fleeting and sacred. Wedding photography becomes history, and the pictures hold so much value for the couple. It’s a great honor to photograph a wedding!"
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "The brief moment a couple shares just after they walk down the aisle."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "It has been a year of highs and lows, blessings and heartache, but I know now what I've always known: I’m a part of an incredible and indestructible industry that highlights people coming together to witness, experience, and celebrate love."
Emily Blake and Shannen Norman originally started off sharing a working studio in the Arts District of Los Angeles. The two friends joined forces to shoot weddings together so they could capture "all of their intricacies from all angles in full." "We want to cover all of it...beautiful portraits, scene-setting environmental photos, quiet and often forgotten moments, and all the loud energy-filled ones too in a cool and interesting, yet timeless way," they shared. While they go into each wedding with a well-researched and scouted plan, they strive to be open and flexible for "unique surprises and magic that each event brings."
We Work in Weddings Because: "We find the intimacy of being alongside our couples on such a meaningful and personal day to be a really inspiring place to create art through imagery. We also find sharing in all the joy that is exchanged between them and their family and friends to be really life-giving."
Our Favorite Moment to Capture: "I think the images we're always most excited about are typically unexpected moments caught on film that we discover when getting our scans back from the lab. Our personal favorite shots are never the planned shots."
What We Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Friends and family are all you need. It doesn't matter if it's just the family of you and your partner, you and a handful of others or you and your 200 friends, every iteration of a "wedding" is so incredibly special and filled to the brim with love and joy."
Chicago-based Olivia Leigh has captured weddings all over the globe since 2007. Her tailored approach to each event, allows her to document moments both big and small, while focusing on letting the couple enjoy their day, rather than following a very staged or produced plan. "Over the years, I have found the photographs that my clients value most years after the wedding are the unscripted moments that can only be captured by allowing couples to be fully present in their day, and likewise, me being present and open to what is happening, as well," she says.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I love to be able to document human relationships and weddings are one of the rare life occasions when everyone from a couples’ closest relationships is present. Weddings give me unique, intimate access into a family for a day, and being able to preserve the small, fleeting moments that will only increase in meaning over time is something I treasure."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "There are so many! First, the minutes immediately after a ceremony, when everyone is filled to the brim with joy, hugging, wiping away tears, and celebrating. Secondly, the 'first look with dad' is a rare trend that I love. As someone who is very close to her dad, this moment always gets me."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "People matter above all else."
Charleston-based photographer Olivia Rae James is celebrating nearly a decade in weddings, and her approach continues to be "pretty relaxed" she says. She wants couples to feel comfortable enough that they forget she's there and she can capture real moments. "I go into each wedding day with a blank slate and document the day as it plays out—inspired by natural light and real moments. My goal is warm, soulful images that feel timeless," she tells us.
I Work in Weddings Because: "Weddings are a celebration of life on so many levels. I love getting to observe and preserve the range of emotions, and can't help but think about the future generations who will study these photos the way I study my own family’s wedding albums."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "The in-between moments that are equal parts mundane and magical—when the bride's veil gets tangled in the wind, the flower girl melts down, or the couple is en route to the "perfect" portrait spot but the light is already hitting them just right and they’re gazing at each other starry-eyed—all things that can’t be planned."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "I have always loved the intimacy of small weddings, and the micro-weddings of 2020 have not only taken that intimacy to a new level, but they’ve given a new appreciation for the day when we are able to celebrate with large groups again. There is not a one-size-fits-all answer to how weddings should be approached, and I love that couples are truly taking this to heart and doing whatever makes sense for them."
Based in Richmond, Virginia, Patricia Lyons has shot weddings for over 15 years. With an editorial background, Lyons approaches each wedding by first getting to know the couple. "By the wedding day I am relaxed and in tune with what is happening in front of me, focusing my camera where the next moment seems to be unfolding," Lyons says.
I Work in Weddings Because: "Capturing that level of emotion is so fulfilling, for my clients but also for me. It's my frequent reminder of why we're all on this planet. The love, connection to other people, the joy, and the celebration... all of it. I am so lucky to be witness to it all week after week!"
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "It's hard not to get emotionally invested in the excitement building up to the ceremony. I just love capturing that energy, because when they grow old together and look back through the images, those palpable emotions will bring back all of those memories. And of course the recessional... that just-married feeling is everything, and I want to help mark that moment for them."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "That intimate weddings are pretty wonderful, too! The pared-down focus on the couple with their nearest and dearest is so special."
A former professional historian, Perry Vaile navigates each wedding like she's creating a piece of history for a family. "Having an appreciation and eye for beauty, with a foundation focused on meaning, I am able to create uniquely captivating imagery with a vibrant spirit and timeless aesthetic," she says. Vaile is based out of Charleston, South Carolina, and Raleigh, North Carolina.
I Work in Weddings Because: "Nothing else compares. To be allowed to not only witness but capture one of the best days of someone's life is always a privilege."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "This changes over the years, but right now I really love the elements of the day that include the parents. Having two kids of my own now and seeing what a special bond it is to raise someone (the effort, patience, and prayers that go into that) I really love to watch their biggest dreams unfold for their kids in front of my eyes. Tied with that, I really love stealing the couple for a few quick moments privately where they can embrace and let the rest of the world fade away for a few breaths before heading into their big party. Time stands still!"
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "I learned that people are truly resilient, and that celebration (no matter how small) is a way to heal, to hope, and to fully experience our lives. The weddings that either happened or couldn't happen in 2020 put our couples through early trials unlike any other year, it helped forge deeper bonds in their marriages right out the gate, and reminded us all to hold onto the deep meaning behind why we have weddings to begin with."
Idaho and Oklahoma-based Peyton Byford has been shooting weddings locally and internationally for five years—often with her videographer husband Colton. Taking a timeless, yet modern and artistic, approach, Byford's main focus on the wedding day is getting a couple comfortable and in-the-moment, "capturing images that are most reflective of them and their love!"
I Work in Weddings Because: "I work in weddings because you truly are capturing some of the happiest moments of people's lives. SO many memories come from a wedding day, captured moments are passed down from generation to generation. I truly loved looking at my parent's wedding photos and now it has evolved even more so into more of a documentary-style approach."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "Personal vow readings are my absolute favorite to capture! Whether only to each other or to their guests as well, everything and everyone is quiet other than the couple reading to each other. It is the moment during the day where the full focus is on the intimate words written by the other."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "I learned that if you take all the details and planning involved in a wedding day away, you'll still find a couple who is truly in love and at the end of the day, just wants to be married."
Husband and wife duo Kariss and Joshua Farris make up Dallas-based Pharris Photos. The couple prides themselves on making a lasting connection with couples, who often start with engagement photos and come back with growing families for their children's portraits. "We've found no greater joy than being apart of a union in a way that freezes time and captures the beginning of family legacies," they say.
We Work in Weddings Because: "We care about legacy and capturing the biggest moment it's beginning for a new family."
Our Favorite Moment to Capture: "Kariss's favorite moment is the couple's portraits! The moment after the ceremony when the couple is freshly-married. It's such an honor to be the first to spend time with them and capture their joy and love for one another. Josh's favorite is the details, he lives for architectural lines and capturing the ceremony and reception details. He was a mechanical engineer for NASA before becoming a full-time photographer/videographer so when we say he loves details, we mean it!"
What We Learned About Weddings in 2020: "The world can stop but there will still be weddings. The weddings/elopements that we were fortunate enough to photograph during the pandemic were the sweetest most intimate shows of love and affection that we've ever experienced."
Working as a photographer for over a decade, Zyaire Porter doesn't underestimate the importance of weddings for a family. "I feel that weddings are the foundation to families and I document them as if I am capturing an important moment in their family history," he says. Priding himself on providing images for all genres with his Porterhouse LA studio, he takes an elegant and modern approach to wedding photography.
I Work in Weddings Because: "Love is the only thing that exists."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "Would have to be the [couple's] intimate portraits. This is their first time as a married couple taking photos together so I enjoy the romance that is captured."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "I learned that nothing can stop two people in love."
Rebecca Yale studied photojournalism, fashion photography, and aesthetic philosophy at New York University with a concentration on photography's ability to mold the way we see the world. That indeed left a lasting impression on her approach to capturing weddings, which she describes as focusing on what the day “felt like, not just what it looked like.” Although she found her niche in the world of nuptials with her LA-based namesake company, she calls upon her experience in fashion photography and photojournalism to capture the wildly romantic portraits and styled still-life vignettes that she’s known to create. Yale prides herself on her ability to become a fly on the wall recording some of the rawest and most vulnerable moments of our lives, and we can only concur.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I get to take images that will outlast me and be meaningful to my clients for generations to come."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "The couple gets such little time alone on a wedding day just the two of them so my favorite moment to capture is whenever this can happen! There's a special energy created between the two of them during these moments alone and it's a pleasure to get to document it."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "One of the positives that I do see coming from the year is the questioning of what a wedding really is and what makes it meaningful. I think we all learned that weddings are what you make them to be and there's no one way to celebrate. I hope couples keep questioning conventional wedding traditions and continue to make their weddings their own."
REEM is an acronym coined by Kareem Virgo of Reem Photography’s wife, and it simply stands for Reliving Each and Every Moment. The wedding and lifestyle photographer, currently residing in South Florida, is a proud husband, health advocate, and basketball fanatic. His foray into wedding photography was somewhat serendipitous since it was his own wedding that convinced him to pursue his “hobby” since college full-time. His passion for photography and love hasn’t gone unnoticed by his nearly 75K Instagram followers, or by us. Clients have often described our work as "captivating." We say that’s an understatement.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I love documenting the love story between couples and showcasing them through captivating imagery!"
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "I have two. All of the emotions when the bride is coming down the aisle, and the intimate portraits between the couple. Capturing the reactions of guests, family, and most importantly, the couple."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "I believe that our generation may have turned away from the true essence of what a wedding really is, and we aim to bring that back. At the end of the day, a wedding is about celebrating the love of a couple with their closest loved ones. Everything else (like other details) falls into place. Couples are now beginning to really appreciate what's most important to them, and that is the movement we are trying to help lead."
“Magazine worthy images in a classic and timeless way” is what Rhea Whitney always aims to shoot (and executes!). The acclaimed wedding photographer, based in both Houston and Washington, D.C., has been photographing couples tying the knot since 2014. She cites her “woman's touch” for showcasing the details and beauty throughout the entire big day.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I love love! It's such an honor to be a part of a couple's special day, capturing all the details, smiles, laughs, tears, and the combining of a family all in one day."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "I absolutely love to capture the timeless portraits of the couple along with portraits of their families! I love those images so much because they are typically the ones that are hung on the walls of their home and relished over year after year."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "That just because you did it one way in the past doesn't mean that that's going to work exactly that same way now. It's important to be flexible and learn how to pivot and understand what works best in today's climate. In 2020, I've had the privilege to photograph many micro weddings and I've really grown to love the intimacy of them."
These two high school sweethearts originally hail from Arkansas but now run their booming wedding photography business out of Austin. After dating for five years, Ronye and Dom got married in 2018 and started the company in 2019 after Ronye completed his enlistment in the United States Air Force—and, well, and the rest is history. Not only do they get to enjoy the privilege of working together full-time, but they get to create lasting memories for, as they put it, their clients' future grandchildren. “So one day they can feel the love and legacy that their grandparents built,” they share.
We Work in Weddings Because: "Marriage is sacred and beautiful. As a husband and wife team, it's an honor for us to document the first day of our couple's legacy."
Our Favorite Moment to Capture: "Our favorite moments to capture at a wedding are all of the moments leading up to the ceremony. The anticipation, the excitement, and the genuine emotions shown as they transform into becoming one is our absolute favorite."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "The pandemic definitely changed the way weddings looked this year. One thing we learned about weddings in 2020, is that no matter how a wedding takes place, love is never canceled."
Texas-based photographer Ryan Ray cites having a keen eye for the unexpected moments that unfold during wedding ceremonies and receptions as one of his special skills. That, and helping his clients settle the butterflies. Ray started in the wedding industry in 2008, and fast-forward 12 years, he’s built a library of incredible, Instagram-worthy images. He says his overall goal is to always make people feel beautiful and comfortable.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I love people and being a part of capturing the joy shared at a wedding. In my previous career, I was a fireman for 10 years. I absolutely loved my job but was always there for people's worst day. To now be there for people's best day, is a gift."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "The ceremony recessional. The excitement from the couple and all who witness it is such a fun moment to capture."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "How special people are. Adversity draws people together in the most beautiful ways. Being a part of intimate celebrations this year has been so refreshing. In the most unique and beautiful way, love has truly been palpable at each wedding."
Here’s a story for you: A former high school English teacher who’s seeking a creative outlet forms a wedding photography company when her now-husband places a camera in her hands and says, “Be bold.” That was in 2016 and today, said wedding photographer, Sacia Matthews, has caught numerous magical moments on her camera. Part editorial, part candid-imagery, her photos get to the root of the couple’s story. This is probably because the teacher in her performs a case study on each couple that walks through her door to assess who they are as individuals and together, their inspirations, and their daily lives. Thorough, no? Find her in Charleston.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I work in weddings because preserving intentional moments and crafting a soulful story that extends over a lifetime matters."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "My favorite moment to capture at a wedding is the sunset portrait time. I love this time because typically it's post-ceremony, there's been chaos and moving parts all day and this is the moment where the world fades, it's quiet, and I get to create a moment for this couple to just take it all in, breathe, and enjoy a perfect sunset together."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "I learned in 2020 that intentional moments never go out of style. I learned that weddings do not have to be majestic, grand, and large to make a huge impact, and in fact, I think the old adage of "less is more," really showed us how impactful "less" can be this year. I've learned that when the love is genuine, the rest just does not matter, and it is an honor to be privy to these quiet, intimate moments with our clients."
A destination wedding photographer since 2012, Sally Pinera’s photos have some of the most expressive, artistic, and, simply put, picturesque wedding backdrops. The images could equally fit in a bridal publication like, let’s say, Brides or a travel magazine. She describes the juxtaposition of her photography style as “elegantly raw and polished.” Striving for honest photographs with a stylish edge has placed her at the top of her industry. Find her in Los Angeles—that is, when she’s not traveling for a client’s nuptials.
I Work in Weddings Because: "Capturing a couple's new beginnings in the most meaningful and beautiful way is the utmost privilege and joy for me."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "There are too many to name, but I always found the moments during a recessional to be so endearing. The couple kisses, walk deeply in love, with immense gratitude and pure joy for not only themselves but for all that have come to share and witness their love. The walk of new beginnings is one of my favorite moments to capture."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "I learned that micro weddings can be super chic. People are adaptable, willing to change and learn, all while love is at the center of it all!"
Using the couple's love story as the ultimate inspiration for each wedding, Samantha Clarke specializes in capturing "stylish couples in love." "I've found that getting to know my clients and understanding what's most important to them is essential to building trust before the wedding day," Clarke says. The opportunity to document a family's history is also paramount to her process. "I always like to imagine that their final images will live on their walls and in the pages of their wedding album for future generations to see."
Based in Atlanta and Toronto, Clarke has shot weddings across the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I get to capture some of the happiest moments of my clients' lives that they will share with future generations."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "I love the anticipation and excitement during the getting ready portion and I also love to see the newlyweds excitedly walk back down the aisle."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "I learned that tough times can bring people closer together. All of the intimate wedding celebrations were even more heart-felt and filled with emotion."
With a background in journalism, Samm Blake's work comes across as honest, vulnerable, and with a sense of "unfeigned connection to its subjects." The New York City-based photographer, who has been shooting weddings since 2003, has a sensitive eye and brings an editorial take to every wedding she shoots. "My images as the building blocks of an unfolding story - they’re little moments that capture the honesty and pure emotion of a wedding day, focusing on subtlety over fanfare," she says.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I work in weddings because I love that my camera gives me the ability to step into different people's lives for a day—to see and document how different people of all walks of life, religions, cultures, wealth choose to celebrate love and joy. I see it as being an anthropologist, a lifelong study into what makes us human."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "I always love the moment when the couple is walking back down the aisle just being announced as married - the excitement, the joy and the energy in those moments are my favorite."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "2020 taught me that all that really matters is family. For so many of my couples who decided to downsize their original wedding plans and to elope instead but could not have their families attend was truly heartbreaking - but I loved seeing all the creative and beautiful ideas my couples implemented to feel close to their families on their wedding days."
Originally hailing from England, Sarah Falugo now calls Portland home—though she shoots all across the world, she says west coast weddings are her "local stomping grounds." Bringing an editorial edge to wedding photographs, Falugo aims to create timeless and authentic images showing each couple's individual expressions.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I'm looking for the brief, unscripted moments which slip themselves in between the more obvious landmarks."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "Be it birds overhead during the ceremony, the gesture of a hand or the briefest of glimpses shared, these moments can say so much and continue to communicate a feeling to us again and again once immortalized."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Even small events and intimate elopements are a sacred right of passage. Whether we gather in small numbers, or large, these moments of connection in the community are more special than we knew!"
Sasithon Pooviriyakul experience in photography started in the world of advertising. After switching gears to documentary photography, where she traveled all over the world shooting her experienced, Pooviriyakul began shooting weddings. "Since the beginning, I’ve applied this documentary-style to weddings, with an eye for capturing charming and quirky stories—there’s nothing as satisfying as those intimate, unexpected moments of surprise and delight," she says. Based in New York City, she alternates between NGO work, commercial shoots, and weddings.
She counts the collaborative spirit and artistry of her fellow wedding artists as a major inspiration. "This intensity and passion make every moment an incredible celebration."
I Work in Weddings Because: "They’re a collage of humanity, joy, and whimsy, all of which fuel my creativity and afford me endless opportunity to capture unique and thoughtful images. It’s a chance to create something that will be cherished for generations, by the couple and their families alike."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "Those moments that only the universe could direct: a kid face-planted on the dance floor, a drag queen whirling a mother-of-the-groom across the room, a couple cheerfully marching with Chinese Lion Dancers to kick off their party... The list goes on."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "That love is not canceled. In the few weddings I was lucky enough to photograph this year, I was taken aback by how these couples pivoted to find the silver lining. Even when far from what they’d originally planned, each and every celebration was full of love, commitment, and merriment. And for my own business, it served as a reminder of how dedicated I am to this work—and how so many people across our industry feel the same."
The South Florida-based photographer Stanley Babb approaches each and every event with a fresh perspective, tailoring everything to fit a client's particular needs. Ultimately, he's there to capture the uniqueness and emotion of each wedding. "We’re always paying close attention to the environment, listening in on conversations and anticipating that smile, laugh, tear, or hug," Babb says. "We have our crop in mind, our lighting set up perfectly, and we’re waiting for that expression."
I Work in Weddings Because: "I'm really in love with capturing love stories. It's really great to help our clients relive their love story through our images."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "Definitely the portrait time. We're always so in love with capturing those wow images. This gives us a chance to really show off our creativity."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Love always wins! Despite such trying times, many have still found ways to have their weddings. Whether it's COVID-19 testing, mask and guest precautions, Zoom ceremonies, or elopements, the show must go on."
San Diego-based duo Skylar Stetten and Devin Wilson are "dedicated to making a positive impact in the world." Shooting weddings from coast to coast, the photographers view themselves as two primary shooters. "When you hire us, you get two primary shooters on your wedding day, at minimum, and a lot of heart," they say. The main goal—capturing a couple in a way that makes them feel more than anything. "Our clients want incredible images that speak to the truth of a real moment. And they want an experience with depth, and to work with an artist."
We Work in Weddings Because: "It's where art meets love. It means a lot to us to know that our art becomes a family heirloom and will have a special place in our couples’ life story."
Our Favorite Moment to Capture: "For Devin, it's the moment the couple hits the dance floor and the party starts because I love capturing the ambiance and movement of a reception. I also love to dance right alongside the guests on the dance floor. As for Skylar? The walk down the aisle after they’re first announced as an official couple. It’s my favorite because there’s always movement and lightness–it’s never posed. It’s a candid moment worth remembering."
What We Learned About Weddings in 2020: "We’re reminded how important our jobs are as documentarians and how imperative it is to hire a great wedding planner. The pandemic has brought a collective sense of hope amongst the industry. We’re all in this together and because we can’t gather like we used to, it feels more important than ever before in our lifetimes, to gather and document our shared experiences with loved ones."
Steve Steinhardt's love of weddings began with coming across the timeless photos of JFK and Jackie Kennedy's wedding. He was struck with the ageless feeling of the over 50-year-old photos. "It was a powerful example that even though fashions and trends change if a moment in time is captured in a timeless way, it has the power to live on gracefully for generations," Steinhardt says. Seventeen years later, the Cleveland-based photographer captures weddings with a classical aesthetic, emphasizing the honesty of the experience—"creating a warm space that allows my couples to be their best, most beautiful selves in front of the camera."
I Work in Weddings Because: "They represent the archeology of love and family and photographs are one of the most powerful ways we share these traditions and histories with the next generation. It's always an honor to witness and document the coming together of families."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "There are so many uniquely beautiful moments that present themselves over the course of a wedding celebration, but one mainstay that has always been a favorite of mine to document is the father-daughter dance. There are so many emotions compounded into this one tender, reflective moment. It's always magic."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "Small is beautiful. If nothing else, this year has reignited the intimate celebration and I am here for it. In the face of so much uncertainty this year, it was heartwarming to see couples go back to basics when planning their weddings and find intentional and deeply meaningful ways to celebrate in lieu of grand gestures. After all, love should never be measured by the size of your guest count."
Shooting since 1998, Sylvie Gil has photographed over 600 weddings. The San Francisco-based Gil has shot weddings all over the world and finds the best approach is to focus on authenticity, allowing the joy, emotion, and beauty of the day to shine through. Gil's passion project is her workshops, where she shares her 22 years of experience with other photographers.
I Work in Weddings Because: "There is nothing like documenting love and beauty."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "I love to capture the magic when the couple walks down the aisle, hand-in-hand and happily married"
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "There is no perfect size for a wedding. Sharing your love for one another is what matters."
Taking a classic approach to wedding photography, Nashville-based Tec Petaja has stayed true to his style for the past decade. Petaja says he doesn't bend to trends or fads. "My work is consistently classic and something I hope my clients will love from the moment they see it to when they're celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary and beyond," he says.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I was made for this profession. Ha! I'm not high strung, so I don't bring stress to the day, but I have an innate eye that allows me to capture this monumental day with confidence and an easy sensibility."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "I always enjoy the quiet moments I get when I sneak away with just the couple; those few minutes together—before they walk down the aisle or right afterward—are so sacred."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "I find it easy to get caught up in the hustle and glorify business; 2020 provided the space to remember my purpose for doing this job: to capture one of the most joyous days of a couple's life with ease, kindness, timelessness, and honesty."
Based in Arroyo Grande, California, Tessa Tadlock has been shooting weddings for over five years. Full of "happy energy and sarcasm" Tadlock loves shooting outdoors and mixing "gorgeous landscapes and romance." But ultimately she wants her clients to have fun! "The most important thing to me has always been working with couples who share my same perspective on weddings/elopements: to actually enjoy the entire experience, embrace the inevitable lost shoes or crazy weather on the wedding day and have freakin' fun!" she says.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I freakin' love, love and I love people. I feel like I'm living inside of a romance movie! I get to not only capture moments but also facilitate them with posing with is so much fun!!"
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "The moment when the couple sneaks away with me and I get them dancing together just the two of them, soaking up their freshly-married selves!"
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "You can keep so many special details and even have room for more unique moments and activities while still keeping a wedding small and intimate."
Husband-and-wife duo Trent Cobb and Dara Kent-Cobb founded Trent Bailey Studio more than 11 years ago. Documenting weddings with an artistic aesthetic, the couple takes an honest approach to this work—capturing photos that feel captivating and joyful. "We believe in creating images and short films that feel classic and timeless, that will instantly transport you back to the way you felt on your wedding day," they say. Trent Bailey Studio is based out of New York City.
We Work in Weddings Because: "We love telling stories. It’s truly an honor to document such an important day in two lives. To capture meaningful and memorable moments that the couple might one day show their grandchildren is really why we do this."
Our Favorite Moment to Capture: "We can’t pick just one. We strive to capture how the day felt more than anything. Whether it is that joyful moment just after the couple has recessed down the aisle or a celebratory group of friends huddled on the dance floor, the entire day is our favorite."
What We Learned About Weddings in 2020: "In the words of Governor Cuomo: 'New York loves everyone. That's why I love New York. It always has, it always will. And at the end of the day, my friends, even if it is a long day, and this is a long day, love wins. Always. And it will win again through this virus.' Love truly always wins. We were so delighted that many of our couples did not let a mandated guest count change the love and energy of the day. Whether they celebrated with immediate family only at their childhood home or had a reduced guest count of 50 COVID-tested guests, each wedding we documented this year had such a soulful feeling to it and an emphasis on what truly matters…love."
Valorie Darling has shot 150 weddings around the world since 2013. A life-long dancer, Darling approaches every wedding like a dance—"the choreography, movement, and intimacy of it all."
Working closely with a couple's planning team, Darling ensures every last detail is covered so that couples can enjoy the experience—producing the most beautiful and lasting images. " I’m drawn to the real, intimate moments that have heart and find my inspiration in all the things that are unique to the couple and the way the day unfolds. All the unplanned moments that become the magic of it all," she says.
I Work in Weddings Because: "I work in weddings because they fill my life with celebration, love and great stories. I get to know couples and their families at such peak moments in life, often becoming life-long friendships, and it’s fulfilling to know that my art will be something they return to for inspiration and pass forward for generations."
My Favorite Moment to Capture: "I have two! The first is all the little intimacies that occur in the moments between happenings when no one is watching: a quick squeeze of a hand, the stolen kiss, the tearful embrace with a parent, the smile that says ‘let’s do this.’ The second is magic hour portraits because of the sense of ease the couple embodies now that the biggest parts of the day have happened. Time slows down in the colors of the sunset and they really get to relax into the celebration and have a moment just the two of them."
What I Learned About Weddings in 2020: "In 2020, we saw weddings peel back their grandiosity to the core of what they're really about, which is the ceremony of committing to love—and the people closest to us who will support us in the journey."