Anticipating candid moments!

As a wedding photographer, I am always looking for the “Holy Grail” photo. For me, this is the one shot that will tell the story of the day. Many of these moments happen throughout the course of the day, and although they can’t all be captured, you need to be prepared to react quickly when they do arise. As I mentioned in my last post, knowing your equipment like the back of your hand is critically important––you don’t want to be messing with camera settings when it comes time to react.  Once you’re very comfortable with your camera it simply becomes an extension of your eye, and you never give it a second thought. 

sled dogs

After you’ve mastered your equipment, you need to learn to anticipate moments before they happen. This is a skill you will develop over time as you gain experience, but there are things you can do to develop your sense of timing. I started my photography career as a sports photographer. I was out on the fields every weekend shooting my kids’ sporting events. I shot so many photos that I was mentally fried trying to process them all. Often times, I would shoot several thousand photos during a single youth lacrosse game. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was an invaluable part of my growth as a wedding photographer. By shooting sports, you have to learn how to anticipate what will happen next, and you have to be ready to react before the moment. Even after my wedding photography business started to take off, I continued to shoot sports because I enjoyed it, but also because the more I shot sports the better I became at being prepared to capture big moments. I eventually moved on from youth sports to shooting collegiate and professional sports including covering the NCAA Final Four, NFL, NHL NBA, MLB games, motocross, cycling and even outdoor adventure sports. When first starting out you may not have access to shooting professional level sports, but I would bet that if you don’t have kids of your own who play sports, you have friends that do. Ask them if you can join them at a game and take some photos for them. The skills you will develop from doing this will pay huge dividends down the road. It’s a great education, and other than your time, it’s free!

soccer photography

If you don’t have the opportunity to shoot sports, you can still learn how to anticipate the big moments during a wedding simply by being observant. If you’re just starting out in wedding photography, do what I did: find quality photographers who will let you assist them, and focus intently on everything that happens. Although I had a bit of part time wedding photography experience before I decided to make it a career, I still assisted other photographers whenever possible. Most of the time I didn’t even bring a camera; I simply focused on everything that was happening around me throughout out the day. My choice to assist without a camera was well thought out. I figured if I had a camera in my hands I would be paying attention to technical things instead of observing the flow of the day. 

wizards basketball photography

If you are already well into your wedding photography career and feel that sometimes you miss moments that you wish you had captured (we’ve all been there), consider changing up your routine. When I first started––and for my first 30 or 40 weddings––I worked every wedding solo, meaning that I had to carry and set up equipment, deal with transportation, parking, logistics, etc. It was draining. I was so concerned about where I had to be next, what equipment needed to be set up for the next part of the day, etc., that in hind-sight I feel that I wasn’t as focused as I could have been on the flow of the day. The light bulb went off for me when I hired an assistant for a multi location wedding––this was after two years of being in business. Having someone that could set up equipment, deal with parking issues, etc., was a huge weight off of my shoulders, and I found that the photos that I captured at that wedding were some of the best that I had ever taken. Having someone there to help with the logistical issues gave me the freedom to focus clearly on the day as it unfolded. The moral of the story: If you don’t have an assistant, get one! 

Obama Inauguration photography

Capturing great candid moments!

What makes a great candid photo? For me it's capturing real emotion at exactly the right moment in time. For my clients, a great candid photo is one that will impact them emotionally when they see it again many years from now. Having been a full-time photographer for over ten years now, and having photographed hundreds of weddings all over the world, as well as fast paced professional sports events, and special occasions of all types, you would think that capturing a great candid would be easy for me. Truthfully, it is easier now than it used to be, but there are many things that go into capturing a great candid photo. Over the next few blog posts, I want to share with you some of the things I’ve learned over time to help you improve your skill in candid photography. Simply having a camera and being at the right place doesn't always mean you'll capture the moment as I feel it should be captured.

My approach as a wedding photographer is to look for the little moments that I call “Emotional transactions”, that are occurring all around me, throughout the wedding day. I have always felt that it’s the photos of these intimate moments that often have the greatest impact, and truly convey the emotion and feel of the wedding day. From my perspective, as soon as your subject knows that he or she has a camera pointed at them, they change their behavior, and the opportunity to capture that candid moment is gone.

One of the most important things that I try to ingrain in all of my interns and associate photographers is to always be alert and anticipate when a great candid moment may happen. Some moments like the groom’s expression when he sees his fiancé in her dress for the first time are obvious, but what about the little private smiles, their hands nervously clasped while they are on the alter, or their reactions after the ceremony as they exit the church, and are alone for the first time as a married couple. All of these moments can make for great candid photos, but you have to be looking for them constantly.

Your choice of equipment will also have a big impact on your ability to capture great candid photos. One of the most valuable pieces of advice I can give to photographers who are trying to improve their candid photography skill, is to learn your equipment like the back of your hand. Knowing your equipment well allows you to react instinctively to moments as they happen without having to worry about your camera settings. Teach yourself how to adjust anything on your camera without having to look at it and keep things simple. If you’re carrying three camera bodies with you all of the time, there is no way you’ll have the time, or energy, to react quickly when a moment presents itself.

I typically work with one camera body and 2 lenses during a wedding ceremony. That doesn’t mean I don’t have backup equipment within reach all the time, it simply means that during that one portion of the day I have one or two of my favorite lenses, and a camera body in my hands. I find that when I have too many equipment options available, I tend to get too caught up in technical decisions and my reaction times are slower. The KISS (keep it simple stupid) concept applies here! Some of my favorite lenses for capturing candid moments are telephoto lenses. Telephotos in the 100 to 300mm range allow me to keep a considerable distance between me and my subjects so that I don’t influence the moment. Trying to shoot a wedding with a wide angle lens means that you will have to be very close to your subjects and it can create an awkward invasion of private space which is exactly what you are trying to avoid. Choosing the right lens for the situation is critical to candid photography. Speaking of equipment, there is a new camera that I can’t wait to try out called the Light L16, which combines 16 lenses, of varying focal lengths into one compact body, which would seem to be a great fit for my purposes. If it works as advertised, I think one of these may find it’s way into my bag.

In the next post I’ll discuss how to anticipate and react to moments that create great candid photos. Stay tuned!  

One of our images has been featured in The Huffington Post!

Thinking of ways to spice up the traditional wedding? Many couples are choosing to drop the traditional customs of a wedding and adding their own flare. Check out the article about switching up your conventional ring bearer for a special pup, a groomsmen or an elder family member. Make sure to check out our fun shot from Vanita and Joe's wedding of their ring bearer who was also a groomsmen! Take a look here!  


Two of our images appeared in Story Mix Media!

Two of our couples were featured in an article by Story Mix Media on lighting and three great ways to grab your guests attention and create the perfect ambience for a romantic night. Madeline and Graham's gorgeous reception under a sunroom lit with bistro lights gave their reception the perfect golden hue and under the stars feel to the night! Brooke and Brian's image of their outdoors, waterfront and sunset lit reception accompanied by a beautiful fall night sky allowed for a backyard style rustic country evening. Take a look here!

Our images were featured in Plan The Day!

Our bride Natalie and our images from her wedding to Trey were featured in Plan The Day! Natalie and expert wedding consultant Meghan Ely tell brides why you shouldn't neglect your bridesmaids when it comes to the wedding preperations! Having your girls by your side on the biggest day of your life is important but so are the words "Thank you". Don't forget to say them! Check out the article here!

We have been featured in Charm City Wed!

Kylie and Grant's woodland, chic waterfront wedding was featured in Charm City Wed! From farm tables, table settings accented with a rosemary sprig to bistro lights. Kyle and Grant's wedding gave the perfect airy, polished and minimalistic feel to the reception, held at the family estate. Rain or shine the elements couldn't stop this Maryland waterfront wedding from happening. Check it out here

Check out our image featured on Huffington Post!

Thinking of doing a destination wedding or just staying close to home for the big day? Take a look at this article on Huffington Post featuring facts about pricing, decor and celebrities who have also considered having destination weddings. Oh, and don't forget to check out our image! Take a gander here!


Check out our feature in Forbes for advice for your big day!

It's easy to get caught up in all the wedding planning in the months leading up to the big day. From vendors to favors to dress fittings its easy to lose sight of what the day is really about. Tips, tricks, and hacks help save you time, money and stress. In Forbes' article "33 Wedding Hacks That Save Money And Add Charm To Your Big Day" the best wedding hacks have been collected for you so you can have stress free wedding planning. You can check out the advice we gave  to brides's about booking your photographer here! 

We have been featured in H&H Weddings!

Ivn and Bernard's wedding from June of 2014 was featured in H&H Weddings! As a Maryland based wedding photographer with experience with many local venues we were pleased to hear that Ivn and Bernard had chosen the Chesapeake Bay Beach Club, one of our favorite waterfront locations for their midsummer wedding. Vintage suitcases, cream lanterns and stunning waterfront views created a perfectly refined, rustic, yet chic wedding. Featuring extravagant flower arrangements by Intrigue Designs, tones of pinks contrasting against blues and creams. To satisfy the sweet tooth the grooms chose a beautiful cake provided by Bakery Express featuring a unique and adorable cake topper by Mincie Shop.  With a beautiful waterfront view of the Chesapeake Bay and an amazing couple we are so happy that Ivn and Bernard's wedding was featured in H&H Weddings!

Check out the original post at H&H Weddings here!


Natalie and Trey's St.Michael's Wedding

A beautiful sunset over the Chesapeake Bay in St.Michael’s, Maryland made for a stunning waterfront wedding. As a Maryland wedding photographer we have shot countless weddings on the Eastern Shore and this one at Kirkland Manor was one of our favorites. From the coral and beige tones accented with gold table settings, to the pastel summer flower arrangements designed by Blush Floral Design , every element for a perfect wedding was executed with style and grace. Natalie stunned her guest’s in her gorgeous gown as her father escorted her across the lawn and  down the aisle to Trey. The reception was held under a classic Sperry tent a tent on the waters edge at Kirkland Manor and guest’s were seated at candlelit rustic farm tables.  The warm summer sun provided dramatic lighting on the dance floor as Natalie and Trey shared their first dance. As the night went on guests were entertained by the best of tunes provided by Imagine (EBE Entertainment). From the delicious dinner and cake provided by Linwoods to the romantic atmosphere everything about this wedding was picture perfect!

Bridgitte and Mark's Annapolis Wedding

The newlywed season is here!  Bridgitte and Mark’s wedding was the perfect way to start the season off with a bang! With Maryland’s beautiful seasons, grand cities and impeccable waterfront venues it's no wonder so many couples find Maryland to be the perfect location for such a special day. As a Maryland based photographer with years of experience working with the surrounding venues I was thrilled that Bridgitte and Mark chose us to share their big day with. Bridgitte and Mark chose the city of Downtown Annapolis to share their wedding day with family and friends. Historic Inns of Annapolis’s governor Calvert House strung bistro lights from aisle to aisle providing a romantic and elegant scene as Bridgitte made her way to Mark. From the bright turquoise table numbers and place cards to the beautiful pastel flower arrangements consisting of an array of white flowers and purple succulents designed by WJM Floral, this wedding was one for the books! The reception was entertained by a great selection of wedding and dance tunes by Chris Campbell from C & J Entertainment Agency and to satisfy everyone's sweet tooth before the night's end the Bride and Groom chose a local baker, Honey Hive Bakery Home of Cakes by Rachael who provided a stunning and delicious three tiered wedding cake accented with snowflakes for the perfect christmas feel.

We were featured in the 2016 International Wedding Trends Report

It wasn't that long ago that I was a bored accountant in a job that wasn't exciting to me, and ultimately just wasn't the right fit for me. When I shot my first wedding eight years ago, I stumbled onto something I honestly never thought I would enjoy, I was just doing a favor for a friend. I always thought wedding photography was cheesy and boring based on my own experience at my wedding. That wedding however, was the start of my transition to a job that I love, and within 1 year, I made a change in careers that lead me, 250 weddings later,  to where I am today. I was a total novice and constantly questioned my decision to change career paths, but I pushed through the tough times, learned everything I could about the industry (I'm still learning every day) and somehow made it to a point where I am being asked for advice on weddings by industry publications. That is one of the reasons it is so thrilling for me when the definitive annual industry resource, The 2016 International Wedding Trends Report included my input for this years report. It's a great ready for brides and industry professionals alike. Check it out here!

We were featured in the

It's always exciting when one of your industry's leading publications features your advice on weddings, so were psyched to see some of our tips featured! If you're looking for ways to save money on your wedding without effecting the wedding day experience, check out these tips in the Bridal Guide!