Thursday, December 13, 2012

Wedding venues, and what matters most in photographing the day

In the midst of designing two wedding albums, I got to thinking about the amazing variety of venues in which I've photographed ceremonies over the past fifteen years and more. This year's main wedding "season" was bookended for me by a neat little coincidence of names. In spring, I covered Gayle and Mark's wedding at Umstead Park in Raleigh. This fall, it was Tatiana and Roger's wedding at the Umstead Hotel. Another, more important way that it brought me full circle was that the officiant in both cases was Reverend Kayelily Middleton. The people are what really matters, and that's why both experiences were a great pleasure for me.

Now, both of the Umstead events were outdoor ceremonies, but of course many weddings take place indoors, whether in impressive architectural wonders or in simple settings. Naturally it is part of the documentary process to capture some of the memorable characteristics of the surroundings, at the same time that the people and events are the main focus. I've enjoyed covering weddings at Duke Chapel, and it's a fine challenge to do justice to the majesty of the building itself, but it's also rewarding to capture, in the brief time generally available, the charm and detail of a simple country church, a period home turned bed and breakfast, or even a living room put into service for nuptials.

Modest church wedding:

An impressive backdrop for a reception portrait:

A gazebo in a neighborhood park can be as beautiful as anyplace for a wedding ceremony.

Dilshad and Michael's album cover included a beautiful garden corner that was part of the back yard venue for their reception.

Here's just a taste of the living room ceremony.

This next photo happens to be one of the last shots from the Umstead Park wedding of Gayle and Mark, but the location matters less than the expressions, in my view.

I've already shown a couple of photos from Tatiana and Roger's wedding at the Umstead Hotel in my
Potpourri Week post, but here's one that is just wide enough to evoke some of the atmosphere of that crisply beautiful fall evening, with the surrounding woods adding to the romance.

So what matters most? Well, everything matters in wedding photography, but emotions rule the day, so I suppose that in whatever ways the physical surroundings color the feelings of all the participants, the photographer should try to be sensitive to those effects and incorporate them into the total package.



  1. Hi Jess,

    What beautiful photos--images that capture the feelings of the couple and the ambiance of the day! Well done, my friend! It is always a pleasure working with you.

    Rev. Kayelily

    1. The pleasure is mine! Thank you Rev. Kayelily.

  2. I like what you've said at the final end of this post. Nice shots! Well, thanks for sharing you beautiful works.

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