When I began my photography career, shooting weddings was something that had never crossed my mind. I was doing headshots, photographing houses for realtors and doing architectural photography. All perfectly fine things to photograph.
One afternoon, a friend called me in a panic. Her friend’s wedding photographer had cancelled on them, one week before the wedding. They asked if I would shoot their wedding, to which I quickly replied, “Absolutely not.” I had no clue how to photograph a wedding and unlike buildings and houses, there were no do-overs! I couldn’t fathom that kind of pressure and I had no idea how to pose families, shoot in a dark church or how to direct a bride and groom.
But, they talked me into it. They were desperate and they assured me that they had no expectations and just wanted me to get something - anything - to document their wedding day. I brought my husband and 20 rolls of film, and as we pulled up to the wedding venue, my heart was beating out of my chest. I think he had to pull me out of the car and push me into the venue.
As we opened the doors we encountered 200 guests, most of them Italian, talking loudly, drinking, laughing, and carrying on. I instantly realized that this looked and sounded exactly like Sunday dinner at my Yiayia’s house – a bunch of loud, festive Greeks carrying on and celebrating passionately. It was a familiar, comfortable scene filled with big smiles and hearty laughter. I can do this, I thought. I know this! And so, I lifted my camera, and I went for it!
Here’s the best part: since I had no formal training in taking posed pictures, I shot candid photos all day. I captured the guests mid-laugh, mid-toast and fully in action because that’s what I saw and what I loved. The celebration, the excitement, all of the moments that just happened, naturally.
But then, something amazing happened. A week later, John F. Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette were married and their wedding photographer, Denis Reggie, took a candid photo of them coming out of the chapel. This iconic image was the beginning of wedding photojournalism; and it was on every magazine cover. It was the moment that candid images at weddings became a ‘thing’.
And guess what? Because I didn’t know how to shoot any other way, candid photos were exactly what I had taken at that first wedding. It was a happy accident. The best accident I’ve ever known.
After that, I tentatively participated in a small bridal show, hoping I could add a wedding or two to my schedule. Instead, I booked an astounding 15 weddings - on the spot! - and after the exciting whirlwind of that day had settled down, I realized it: I was suddenly a wedding photographer.
And, here I am, celebrating my 20th year in business, spending every day getting the lucky opportunity to look back at those big and small wedding moments and memories that I still love to capture. Sometimes I go way, way back and look at those shots from that first wedding all those years ago, and I smile every time, and send a little thanks out to them for pushing me out of my comfort zone, and into this incredible, beautiful career. I love my job.