“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

 


Art Museum Wedding

Art Museum Wedding – Nathan and Jeannette

Nathan and Jeannette held their wedding at the Decordova Art Museum. This was certainly apt as Jeannette is a talented artist. Meaningful details revealed themselves at every corner as the day unfolded. I will try to list them, but I know there are many that will elude me… I feel as if I got to know the two better through the intelligence of the decisions they made in planning their wedding. They met when they were teachers, so their wedding favor was a triad of pencils inscribed with a quiet and gorgeous fragment form a Walt Whitman poem, “There we two, content, happy in being together, speaking little, perhaps not a word.” On the wedding altar was placed a table occupied by a bonsai tree into which Nathan had poured his attention and love for more than a decade, and succulents belonging to Jeannette’s mother. Nathan’s father donned three outfits as the day progressed, a suit for getting ready, his vestments to officiate the wedding, and a tux to celebrate. Not only did Nathan’s mother make the cake, and enough ice cream cake to feed all the wedding guests, but she commissioned a sculptor to make a cake-topper depicting Nathan and Jeannette’s three dogs. The florals were exquisite, almost avant-garde in places, perfect for an art museum wedding. Jeannette’s dress was at the same time elegant and sculptural. There were many moments where it inflected the art on the museum walls. Thanks again, Jeannette and Nathan, for having me make art about your wedding!

printed pencil wedding favors

Venue : deCordova Art Museum
Dress : Amsale
Florist : Hanaya Floral Design
Makeup : Christie Torres
DJ and/or band : Fine Tune Entertainment, Joe Kaszuba
Cake : Rachel Coppersmith
Catering : Swartz Catering
Invitations : DWRI Letterpress


Classic Church and Topsail Tent Wedding – Jocelyn and Tom

Classic Church and Topsail Tent Wedding – Jocelyn and Tom

The story of how it came to be that I photographed Jocelyn and Tom’s wedding is on the complicated side of things. Jocelyn reached out to see if I was available to photograph her wedding on the Sunday of Memorial Day. She is an incredible storyteller, and went into detail in her initial query about the history of her grandma and grandpa’s house where the reception would be held. The house actually had it’s 300th birthday this year. There was a fabled apple tree, apple pies, peach jam, and a grapevine Robert Frost had written a poem about. Jocelyn and Tom were high school sweethearts at Exeter where they both rowed on the crew team. Very sad for me! I was booked Sunday, but I was available Saturday, so I cheekily suggested they change the date of the wedding to Saturday.

 

By mere chance, or some celestial tinkering, Jocelyn and Tom changed their wedding date to Saturday, and booked me as their photographer! I anticipated the wedding with excitement all year long, and when it finally came to pass, it did not disappoint.

 

The wedding was a classic. It started in the Exeter church, and ended with joyous dancing under a topsail tent. The thing that struck me most about their wedding was how right it felt. They were surrounded by family and friends who could see with great clarity how happy Jocelyn and Tom made each other and what an incredible match the two made. Each, in their own right, is a force to be reckoned with, but together, they are indomitable. Woe to anyone who should impede their path. They had their first look on a worn marble staircase at Phillips Exeter Academy where they had first met and forged their connection. I made couples portraits of the two down at the Exeter Boathouse, the site of their first date! I could go on and on about the wonders of their wedding… Thank you again for being so lovely to work with, Jocelyn and Tom.

 

Many many thanks to the talented Cara Brostrom for coming on as a 2nd photographer.

 

Sitting Bride Groom Portrait San Francisco Wedding Photographer

 

Bride’s Dress: Amsale from The White Gown

Groom’s suit: Custom made by the Black Lapel

Florist: Cymbidium Floral

DJ and/or band: DJ Jodi Entertainment

Catering: Stone Oven Catering and Las Olas

Invitations: Crane & Co


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