Judith + Randy at the Art Alliance {Philadelphia Wedding Photography}

What keeps wedding photography fresh and exciting as the years go by? The couples. That’s it. Over and over again, I am given pause by how much I can enjoy meeting new couples and seeing how different they are from one another.

Often times, weddings skew younger…there is hub-bub and to-do, bridesmaids excited and flustered as the ceremony approaches and the small details are fretted over. This is, after all, The Big Day. The big new beginning.

Which brings us to Judith and Randy’s fantastic Art Alliance wedding. This day was calm. Serene. Peaceful. Quiet and confident. The small group of friends and family gathered in the courtyard for pre-ceremony champagne and hugs and catchings-up, and then moved to that amazing central staircase and smiled big smiles as the bride and groom exchanged their vows.

Then it was down to Le Cheri for a meal far above and beyond the typical wedding catering. This meal was serious business.

And after that, that was it. Simple, sweet, wonderful day. I have had the pleasure of running into Judith and Randy a couple times at Philadelphia Orchestra events as well, and it’s always great to stay in touch.

As a fun aside, the wedding was also covered by the New York Times, who sent their own photographer. Pity that I couldn’t just have one of my dream employers run a few of my photos, but it was also fun rubbing elbows with one of their photographers and watching her work.

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Will + Luann {Anthony Wayne House Wedding}

This beautiful country wedding is going back in the archives a bit, and for some reason it never came up in my blogging queue. Which is funny, because this is just the kind of wedding I love to photograph. I’ve been shooting so much in Philadelphia recently, and there’s lots to be said for working in the elegant Center City venues, but when it’s a beautiful autumn day and there’s a fantastic historical venue and a gorgeous couple, well.

So congratulations to Will and Luann! Their ceremony and reception, both held at the historic Anthony Wayne House in Paoli, PA, were the height of elegant, laid-back, all-smiles-on-deck joy. A heart-felt outdoor ceremony under a handmade wedding canopy. A walk along a rustic fence beneath full-blown autumn color. A tent reception on a perfect evening. A fire ring. And I’d like to call your attention to the photograph of the setting sun shining through the champagne glasses as the toasts approach.

Really. In so many ways, a perfect day.

As an aside, Luann’s makeup artist for the day was Kim, one of my brides who has appeared here previously. It took me awhile to recognize her, but I finally came around to it. Always great to see past couples out and about in the world!

Welcome Back!

Alright, alright, once again it is time to confess that I am a terrible blogger and really need to refocus my attention here to keep you up to date on what the heck I am doing, who I am working with, and what wonderful venues I’ve been shooting at. So what the heck have I been up to while not posting regularly?

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Well, a whole bunch! Shooting lots and lots of weddings, for sure. Still shooting the occasional story for the Inquirer. Running a ton. Learning to knit. Raising two kids. Trying to get through Middlemarch, which is a fantastic book, by the way. Learning to wrtie web code. Grocery shopping…I’m sure many of you know the deal.

So this post is just to remind you that I am still here, still alive, still taking great photographs of great couples at great weddings. In the coming week or so I’ll get back to posting weddings, and I want to share a bit of news about changes to my business and pricing that will make it simpler for us to connect and get you a wedding collection that you’ll love.

In the meantime, my most active social media outlet right now is Instagram. Head on over there and check out what I have been up to, weddings, running, kids, crafts, and all.

See you in a bit with more info!

–Matthew

Angela + Sean! Congratulations! { Plymouth Meeting Country Club Wedding }

I’m looking forward to kicking off a new wedding season this Saturday, and what better way to get back into the spirit than to update the blog with another wonderful couple who brought with them truly one of the funniest assemblages of family and friends in recent memory. Angela and Sean’s wedding day was chilly and rainy, but an absolute hoot. We shot some film, we shot some digital, we were challenged with locations and logistics, but in the end, two people got married, lots of people danced, a few people cried, and the shrimp at the cocktail hour buffet were plentiful, and delicious.

Congratulations, Angela and Sean, and we wish you all the best!

Preparations: Doubletree Plymouth Meeting

Ceremony: St. Philip Neri, Lafayette Hill

Reception: Plymouth Meeting Country Club

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Congratulations, Keith and Albert! {University of Pennsylvania Wedding Photography}

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A mutual friend–ok, technically my boss at the time–referred Albert to me. It turns out that he had been just over there, at work, for some time. He was working as a copy editor at The Philadelphia Daily News while I was doing my internship there. But since he moved in the words-world, and I was usually out and about on photography assignments, we had never had occasion to meet.

Good thing that we eventually did. Albert and Keith put on a wedding that balanced the height of elegance with the kind of back-slapping, hugs and kisses affair that makes you forget that the reception is happening amidst priceless artifacts of antiquity (note to other photographers: yes, the Penn Museum checks to see if you have insurance. Yes, you will really really see the value of a general liability policy if you ever shoot there).

This wedding was just shortly after Pennsylvania came to its senses and stopped enforcing its ban on same-sex marriages. Albert and Keith having been together for a long time, the emotional reaction was as predictable as it was touching: a sense of “Finally!”, and sense of “This is right!”, a sense of “It is as it should be.” It was a wedding of deep gratitude, love, community, and sharing.

Shot mostly on film, as weddings should be!

But seriously! The reception!

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The Group Shot

Emily and Vic’s wedding at Philadelphia’s Knowlton Mansion was wonderful for many reasons, but this wedding party stood out as a great group of people, and in photographer-speak, that means that they were very willing to have their pictures taken.

Knowlton Mansion has this little sitting room, or maybe it’s a parlour, but whatever it is called, it is a richly textured space that just really really wanted me to do something a bit more photographically.

I spend a lot of time looking at non-wedding photography, and love how I can grab inspiration even for how people sit when I’m looking outside the box.

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Congratulations, Emily and Vic! { Philadelphia, PA Knowlton Mansion Wedding }

knowlton mansion philadelphia weddingEmily and Vic were married at Philadelphia’s Knowlton Mansion, and even though the wedding itself was almost a year ago, I just had the pleasure of finishing up their album and seeing them again to hand it over.

Knowlton Mansion is such a fantastic venue–pity the ceremony couldn’t have been outside. The giant old house has all kinds of little nooks and crannies and intimate spaces that create great light, and the event space is also wonderful.

Emily and Vic themselves were also fantastic, a chill, slightly wry couple with a sense of humor and go-with-the-flow demeanor that is so enjoyable to work with. Detail of the day: Vic and his dad made the wine that was used in the ceremony and that was handed out as favors at the end of the night. Always lovely to see one of my photographs on a wine label!

Congratulations to this beautiful couple, and I wish them many years of happiness!

For those who want to know, many of these images were shot on film: Kodak Portra 400 and Tri-X, the two greatest films around these days.

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Congratulations, Indra and Chris! {Glen Cove, New York Wedding Photography}

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Indra and Chris’s wedding at Glen Cove Mansion was one I almost did not get to shoot. When the couple initially booked me to photograph their wedding, it was planned for Philadelphia. A change of plans moved the celebration to Long Island. I’m always disappointed not to get to work with a couple when plans changed, so I let them know that I always welcome the opportunity to travel someplace far (not that Long Island is terribly far), and they ended up sticking with me and having me drive up. I am so glad that I did.

I am such of fan of ceremonies and rituals…anything that shows how one culture or another celebrates momentous events. Indra and Chris’ wedding was just that. First, there was a Hindu wedding ceremony with all of its rich colors, textures, ornate decorations, and elaborate symbolism on the altar. There are the shawls and the circling of the fire, the music. It was wonderful and beautiful.

As if that were not enough, they then went outside and had another ceremony in the American tradition, outside, on the patio, with the tux and the white dress and a lovely harp. The day was transitioning to evening and it could not have been more perfect.

One more transition to inside for cocktails and a beautiful reception, with a long string of friends and relatives giving testimonial to what a wonderful couple, what a wonderful day, what a wonderful celebration was at hand.

Thanks so much to Indra and Chris for having me drive up to Long Island for the wedding. Great people make the drive worth it, and this drive was worth it. Many many congratulations!

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Rebecca and Miguel {Easton, PA Wedding Photography}

bank_street_annex_wedding (20)We’re gonna start with that image. Because I love it. Not just because I loved working with Miguel and Rebecca, not just because this photograph kind of instantly raised the bar for what I am willing to accept out of myself….I love it because of how this image happened.

It was one of those days where I felt as if I was just cruising along. I have my routine. I have my way of doing things, and in general it works. I was making nice pictures (see below!). We had a good bit of down time after the ceremony and before the reception, and we got to spend much of that time in the wonderful upstairs rooms at the Bank Street Annex in Easton. Not much was happening, and I wanted to do something that showed off the fanciness of the rooms.

During weddings, I am mostly a natural light photographer (at least up until the reception). But this day, I looked over at my lighting bag, and decided I wanted to take out the big umbrella, the Photek Softlighter II, and do something fashiony. Rebecca was game for draping herself all over that chair, Miguel perched himself on the table, and we got the shot in just a couple tries.

Photographers often say that the equipment does not make the photographer, and that is true. But the roll equipment can play in driving creativity should also not be overlooked. It was my equipment that motivated me to take this image, and it is the lights that make the image. Ask me sometime about the stuff I use! I love it all for different reasons, but most of all, I love it because it helps me take the images I want to take.

But enough about me! To Rebecca and Miguel!

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13 Ways To Take Better Photographs: Make, Keep, and Share Prints

Friends, this will be the last installment in this series, so it is time to break it down and simplify. What is the best way to start taking better photographs?

Start by caring about your pictures.

Although my digital gear is impressive in how it renders images, digital images still make me sad because it is so easy to imagine the huge number of photographs that never, ever, get looked at. It is possible to create a flood of very good images and hand them to a client, or to create a flood of very good images and keep them in a folder of family photographs on my hard drive. But I forget about these images fairly quickly, because they are just so much data on a drive that I never see.

There is one easy thing you can do to show that you care about a photograph:

Print it.

In fact, make two prints. Keep one for yourself, and give the other away.

You just invested time and money in making a photograph permanent. It wasn’t much time, and it wasn’t much money, but it was something. Now, you have a tangible object that you can hold in your hands. You have something that you can hang on the wall in a nice frame—a further statement of value—so that you see it every day and that one photograph becomes part of your visual language, part of your visual environment.

And you have just given someone else a thing. Not a link, not a wall post, not a thumbs-up or a like or a retweet, not something that will slide down your feed and get lost amongst the daily barrage of sharing. All of these things are valuable parts of how we communicate and interact today, and they send this message: I want you to see this.

But when you hand someone a print, you send a different message: I want you to have this. You have created an image that you are saying should be a part of someone else’s visual vocabulary and environment. For you to make that claim, there had better be something good about that image. You had better care an awful lot about it.

A print finalizes the photographic process. Making a print leaves behind an artifact that can be found and viewed a hundred years from now. By making a print, you are putting an object out there in the world that has a good chance of outlasting you. People who never knew you will look at that print and maybe say, “She was a really good photographer, huh?”

In a hundred years, none of your digital file will exist. So make prints. Seriously.

Collect your prints in books and boxes. Cover your refrigerator and desk with them. Make albums of your trips and holidays and personal ideas and family. Buy frames and hang pictures around, and every once in a while, buy a really large frame and put a giant print in it.

One last bit of advice. If you are just getting started, give yourself five years. You will learn all the technical stuff fast enough…learning how to focus and how to post-process your images, how to compose and all that jazz. That happens quickly. But it takes time to build up the artistic taste and ability to where you might be really proud of what you are doing. Along the way, you will make many great images that speak of who you are and that will be loved by those who see them and those who are in them.

Enjoy the process.