2019 a year in wedding moments

2019 was a big year over here. After moving to the San Francisco Bay Area in June of 2017, and flying to NYC, Boston, and Philadelphia countless times to photograph weddings in 2017 & 2018, my 2019 wedding season was 95% California weddings. I feel grateful for the shift and the growth, which has allowed me to spend more time close to home running to the beach and eating breakfast tacos in the backyard with my wife on Sunday mornings.

This year I witnessed great beauty and connection up and down the coast, and I was introduced to new traditions: From redwood cathedrals dusted with rose petals in Mendocino, to dusty ranches lit up with colorful saris down in San Benito County. From Greek feasts in hidden urban gardens, to foggy hilltop wedding brunches. From pretzel dances in Silicon Valley, to rooftop ragers in Soma. From boxer dogs in tailored tuxes, to gold sequin party dresses just for dancing.

There were lots of saxophones at weddings this year. I certainly hope that trend endures. One of the saxophonists wore a cow suit. I had the distinct pleasure of listening to my first wedding podcast, including a hilarious interview with the flower girl. One couple drove into their wedding at Fort Mason on their tandem bicycle right up to the altar, another drove away from their City Hall wedding on a getaway motorcycle with a veil flying behind the bride’s helmet. I learned about 2nd lines, the Gujarati Garba Dance, Hula, and Cosplay. This was also a year of micro-weddings. Such intimate affairs. 10 souls at a gorgeous farmhouse on a Vineyard in Sonoma, 18 in a backyard in Napa, 10 on Synagogue grounds in Santa Clara County. But, there were large affairs as well in clubhouses with fantastic views of the majestic San Francisco skyline, elegant white gowns with long trains, 10-piece bands. There was a wedding newspaper, a bouquet of paper airplanes, and a custom-printed Shehecheyanu shawl draped over a pair of embracing brides just-married on a foggy Marin mountaintop.

I want to take this moment to thank every last person who invited me in to witness their weddings, to witness their families,, and their communities breaking bread, singing, laughing, dancing, crying, etc. etc. I loved all of it. I feel immensely grateful, and I look forward to next year, which should prove to be another glorious year full of ritual and awe.

(2020 is already 75% booked…eeeep!!!)


St. Helena Wedding – Napa Valley

Intimate wedding in St. Helena, Napa Valley, California

B & K were married on a storybook sunny April day in St. Helena in California’s Napa Valley. The poppies were out. The wisteria was out. The rows upon rows of grapevines looked lively and healthy. 


This was an intimate wedding, just immediate family and a pair of friends in a glorious backyard with vineyards and mountains as a backdrop. 


After the ceremony, we headed over a few blocks to Downtown St. Helena for the wedding reception at the incredible Charter Oak Restaurant. After the meal, we headed out to play with sparklers in the balmy night. 


“Documentary wedding photography” 7 reasons why this is what you really want.

An emotional first look at a wedding. The groom wipes a tear away. Documentary wedding photography.
  1. You care deeply what it actually felt like to be at your wedding, and so you want wedding photos that convey that feeling. The goal in “documentary wedding photography” is to make images that make you feel what it was like to be at your wedding years after the fact.
Boy in suit and suspenders hugging his daddy's leg at a wedding. Documentary Wedding Photography

2. You want a photo of your best friend doing the worm, of your mom teasing her sister, of your dad hugging you with tears in his eyes, of your niece with that look like she’s plotting world takeover. These are the moments a documentary wedding photographer sees, and immortalizes.

A groom held aloft his cousins' shoulders during a baraat. Documentary Wedding Photography Hazel Photo

3. You want a photographer who has a keen eye for the meaningful gestures, expressions, and details that tell the larger story. A documentary wedding photographer spends years honing the ability to see the unexpected, to frame things just right, so the viewer is compelled by the photograph, and understands the scene.

a little girl in a white dress with a white basket and a bright pink troll, sticking her tongue out and observing it all on a wedding day. Documentary wedding photography.

4. You don’t want your photographer to tell you to have a second first look. One is overwhelmingly wonderful. Also, hold on a sec, how in the world can you have a second first look? This speaks to the authentic manner in which documentary wedding photographers work.

a groom and his father share a hug at the hotel before heading over to the church for the wedding. Documentary wedding photography

5. You want pictures that make you feel seen. A documentary wedding photographer can make photographs that compliment the principles that guided you when you were planning your wedding. (whether you sat down and wrote out official guidelines with your fiancé, or you just have a general sense of what you were about during the planning.) Unfortunately some wedding photography doesn’t see you for who you are, and ends up being more a photographer’s idea of what a “romantic wedding” should look like.

a Bride reading a letter from her groom before the wedding surrounded by bridesmaids and mom. Documentary wedding photography

6. You don’t want a photography company that takes over with multiple cameras, and blocks your guests’ view, and makes it feel like a photoshoot, not like an authentic event. In “documentary wedding photography” the goal is to let the wedding be what it is, rather than to step in and change it.

7. You like the color of your dress and the florals you chose, and you want them to be true to life in the pictures. The style of a documentary wedding photographer can be carried into processing images after the wedding day with the goal of reproducing beautiful faithful color. Some wedding photography is significantly altered in processing, whether that be desaturation, color grading, or excessive retouching. 


Moments that matter – a year in weddings

Here we have a year of weddings as seen through “moments.” 


2018 brought a lovely diversity of venues throughout the Bay Area and beyond, including the Sierra Mountains, Big-Sur, The Boston T and the Boston Public Library, Art Museums, Tiny Chapels and Massive Urban High Schools, Small High Schools and Redwood Theaters, a Mansion that once belonged to a general


I feel overwhelming gratefulness for all the joy and ritual that I experienced through a camera lens this past year.


But why “moments”? Because they draw us in through their storytelling power. They make us feel what exists on either side of them. They don’t just show a gorgeous dress. They show a woman in a gorgeous dress flushed with joy as she dances with her father. Her gesture shows the freedom and the fun she has shared with him. They don’t just show a marriage license sitting upon a table. They show a group hug between a bride, a groom, her sister, his brother, and the closest of friends, the marriage license gripped between the groom’s fingers.


A photograph is time frozen. Sure, etymologically speaking, it is a light-drawing…but maybe we should have called it a nontempograph… because it’s conceptual implications are: it takes something that exists in the spatiotemporal world, and strips it of time, leaving it to a solely spatial existence. It is of time and yet out of time.  A spatial representation of time at a standstill.


And in it’s spatial existence, it can only hint at temporality. It is those photographs that gesture grandly toward temporality that move me most.

Here’s to a 2019 of making wedding photographs that gesture grandly toward temporality.


Industrial Chic Wedding Bok Building

Industrial Chic Wedding Bok Building – Eliza & Dirk

Eliza & Dirk had the distinct pleasure of walking from their home in their South Philadelphia neighborhood to their wedding venue, The Bok Building. Part of the vision for the day, as far as photography, was a walk through the neighborhood with bridal portraits in front of Eliza & Dirk’s favorite murals. We got lucky, and happened upon an Italian street festival, replete with red white and green pendants strung across the street. Philadelphia is a city of hidden magic on tiny alleys, and we found that magic again and again as the day unfolded.

Eliza is an urban planner, Dirk a geographer, so it was apt that the backdrop for their wedding was a view of the city grid of Philadelphia from above. The florals were fantastic. I love the arrangement at the altar with the city peeking through beyond. Post-industrial splendour exploding with flowers!

Sometimes as I photograph a wedding I pick up on a subtle dynamic I didn’t see coming. On their wedding day, from getting ready, through the ceremony, into toasts, I was struck by what an exceptionally strong chosen family Eliza & Dirk have cultivated, and now cherish.

Let’s also not forget that there was an astronaut in attendance, and he made every photo he graced with his presence ten times better.

I could write volumes, but these photos!! I won’t keep them from you any longer.

Photography : Hazelphoto
Wedding attire : Sarah Seven, Taylor Stitch
Florist : Vault & Vine
Makeup : JKo Beauty
Rings : Bario Neal
Invitations : Egg Press

Boston Public Library Wedding

Boston Public Library Wedding – Alexandra & Eric

Alexandra & Eric were married in the courtyard at the Boston Public Library on a lovely September evening. The McKim building at the Boston Public Library is the classiest library I have ever set foot in, and I’m a notorious book lover, so this wedding was kind of a dream. Murals by Puvis de Chavannes, Abbey, and Sargent adorn the library walls. The whole grand building and courtyard make quite the backdrop for a wedding.

 

Eric wore a striking black tuxedo with a succulent boutonniere, and Alexandra wore a gorgeous intricately beaded gown that brought to mind the glamour of the roaring twenties. This vibe is particularly strong in the portraits we made on the marble grand staircase, and with the Puvis de Chavannes murals. The two got ready across the street at the ever elegant Fairmont Copley.

 

In a pre-wedding consult I asked Alexandra and Eric if there were any details they were particularly excited about. Eric mentioned the cheese/cake and they both broke into laughter describing the tower of wheels of cheese decorated with flowers, herbs and champagne grapes. Let’s just say the cheese wedding cake did not disappoint in person.

 

The courtyard of the McKim building is transporting. It was easy to forget we were in the center of a busy Metropolis. The light drew low, as the two were joined, flanked by their siblings, and surrounded by family and friends.

 

Alexandra and Eric are scientists. The officiant’s sermon, and the toasts both made reference to this shared passion. Apparently the two spend much time thinking and talking about the chemistry of pink lakes and cell death among other salient topics.

 

There were a few exceptionally talented dancers in attendance, which made for a lively, and visually stunning dance floor in the Abbey Room.

 

Shoutout to Leah Astore for helping out with photos!
and to Bryanne Pepin and the whole crowd at A Catered Affair for doing what they do best.

Photography : Paul Gargagliano / Hazel Photo

Wedding Coordinator : Bryanne Pepin The Catered Affair

Florist : Brattle Florist

Bride’s Dress : Jenny Packham

Bride’s hairpiece : Gigi Burgiss

Groom’s Tuxedo : Prada

Hair : Darren Le

Makeup : Anthony Joseph Beauty

Ceremony Music : Keros Entertainment

DJ : Beat Train Productions

Cheese Wedding Cake : Formaggio

Catering : The Catered Affair

Invitations : Pickett’s Press

 


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