2019 was filled with 29 weddings on my client list, and each wedding was unique and beautiful in it’s own way. It was a pleasure to work with everyone in 2019, and today I wanted to share with you some of my personal favorite images from the year. I’m drawn to images with moment, light, style, a little something different. Every wedding gallery delivered had these things, but from a photography perspective I am constantly pushing myself to get better and so these images from the year are the ones that stood out to me photographically. And now, in no particular order – the Best Of 2019.
WHY I LOVE IT: The sunlight we got on this September day was just amazing. I love how we were able to photograph their portraits at the absolute perfect time of the day, and that the color of Anna’s skin went with the warm brick on the building and reds and peaches in her bouquet. The color in this photo is just gorgeous, matching with the perfect light.
WHY I LOVE IT: Light and Moment. Of course! These are two things that I’m drawn to immediately! One of the things about photography that is typical is called the “Rule of Thirds” and I practice this a lot, but in this image I love how you’re drawn to the couple using a diagonal line, which is something I don’t see all of the time. The light is also not mine – it’s the videographer’s light (which is why it makes the streak you see), and I like how I was able to use it in this photo. I also love that all of the bridesmaids are watching so sweetly!
WHY I LOVE IT: The dress! Kelsey told me that she really wanted a signature photo in front of the windows at the Fairmont Hotel – that is why she chose to get ready there! I was admittedly a little nervous about how to make that happen exactly, because the windows can be tough to shoot in front of. The outside is very bright, and the inside of the rooms are darker. This can create a little tricky issue for photography unless I’m using flash. I tried this photo originally shooting straight-on to the window, but the outside was really blown-out and bright, so I learned here that if I step a little bit to the side, then it gives me more range in the image with the light and shadows. I recruited a bridesmaid to give her dress a little toss, and then with some Transform tool in Lightroom I was able to pull the dress in a slightly more dramatic fashion. You can see how your eye is drawn from Kelsey’s hand, to her face, to her veil, down her dress. It’s like a little story.
WHY I LOVE IT: This photo is something totally different than what I typically see and photograph at the Mellon Institute Columns. That spot in Pittsburgh is a great place to get natural-light images, and a great rain plan! However, I had saved a few photos from Instagram that had a little more blacks / warm tones / backlit look and I reviewed them the morning of Lexi’s wedding. Once I saw her wedding dress I knew it would be a perfect fit to create an image like this. Now, keep in mind that we had lots of time on their wedding day. We were able to not only get those ‘safe and standard’ columns photos, but then experiment a little bit. I needed a few minutes to get my flash set up and working with the settings the way I wanted. This takes patience, and they gave that to me. I love that a little experimentation created something so beautiful and unique at a typical Pittsburgh photo spot, and I’ll keep this setup in my back pocket for future weddings as well!
WHY I LOVE IT: I love this image for both light and moment. What a sweet moment for a bride and her mom putting the final touches on her veil at the Omni William Penn hotel before she heads out for her wedding day. What you may not realize is that I moved a marble table, some chairs, and cleaned the floor (this was also the makeup area, so there was some makeup on the hardwood) before the photo was taken. Sometimes it takes some prep work to get the location just right!
WHY I LOVE IT: The moment, of course! I get lots of photos of the brides with their parents, but sometimes my grooms are a little more stiff in showing affection towards their parents. When I get a sweet reaction from one of the guys, especially for their moms – it melts my heart! I also love the color inside of the Broderie Room this past spring in Phipps Conservatory, and the layering of the flowers and background to the subjects in this photo.
WHY I LOVE IT: I had no idea that Hannah’s dad was going to be such a dancing superstar, so at the reception he really surprised me during their father/daughter dance in the Carnegie Museum. I always enjoy working at the museum, because it’s actually a really difficult space to photograph and make look interesting. You can see in those photo that I’m specific on how I setup my flash in the space, and it really adds to the fun of the photo!
WHY I LOVE IT: Besides the sweet moment (which is really the key to any wedding photo), I love the crisp contrast in this image mixed with the light hues. I used my prism to create the rainbow light effect on the side of this photo, and I love how it adds to a little bit of the magic of the image. This was photographed with a mix of natural light, flash behind the couple, and a prism.
WHY I LOVE IT: First, these two were a little more shy when it came to the direct-photography part of their wedding day, so I love that I captured a BIG real smile from Minday in this image. As I mentioned before, I’m very intentional with where I place my lights at a wedding reception in the Museum, and this image is the combination of three flashes. The one behind them mixed with some of the dust in the room created this light effect which kind of looks like snow (and it was a winter wedding!), and then the glasses in the foreground are not all blown-out because the couple was it with on-camera flashes in other areas of the room. So… looks simple, but it really took a LOT of things to come together to make this image look as magical as it does!
WHY I LOVE IT: This church was really important to Sarah and Ryan, and so I really wanted to capture it in a lovely way. When something has sentimental value to a couple it is important for me to highlight it in a way that is meaningful. This church was adorable, and I think the ‘easy’ shot was to photograph the church from the back –> front. However, I like in this photo that I shot from side –> side instead and really highlighted the windows and created some pretty backlighting for them as well.
WHY I LOVE IT: You have to remember that this photo was taken during an active wedding ceremony, so everything was fairly quiet in the church. This little girl was so cute, and I was able to get her attention (it pays to be friendly to the kiddos!) and include her in this wide-shot image of the ceremony.
WHY I LOVE IT: This photo was actually taken in MAY, which is funny because it has an autumn feel. When I saw these trees and this long road, I knew I wanted to take advantage of the scenery and include it in an image for the couple. I think this photo would look really great printed on a large canvas in the couple’s house. The movement in her veil really helps, too!
WHY I LOVE IT: The moment! This simple photo was not difficult to light, but the expression on both of their faces is just magical. You can’t beat times like this!
WHY I LOVE IT: Again, another image where the range between the bright sun outside and the darker hotel room is more difficult to photograph, so this image took a bit of tweaking in the editing process. Melissa’s dress was perfect and classy, and so is she – so mixing it with the high buildings of Pittsburgh was a perfect frame of the day. I love the way the window works as a ‘frame’ in the image, too!
WHY I LOVE IT: I tend to shoot a little ‘tighter’ in my style, so sometimes remembering to zoom out if tricky for me! It’s just not how my eye sees and my mind works all of the time. This is a style thing – every photographer and artist is different! So I love that this image is a wide shot where you can see the venue and the action of where the bride + bridesmaids are heading out, and the blue sky of the day.
WHY I LOVE IT: First, this is one of my favorite couples coming up in 2020. They are fantastic, and such a team, and so strong and lovely and smart. I could go on and on about them! But what I love about this photo is that we had such a cool location, and a beautiful night, and the city lights, and the love between the two of them. This was also photographed while I was on the last 10 images of my memory card, standing on a single chair, overlooking a balcony and trying not to fall into Market Square. Ha! It pushed the limits of my camera, too, because I didn’t use flash in this image and it was taken at night.
WHY I LOVE IT: These two asked me to help them re-do their wedding photos, and they were a pleasure to work with. I LOVE doggies in photos, and this guy was so cute! I’m not opposed to photos where the couple is camera-aware, and so I love their perfect smiles and their adorable pup. You can really see that they’re a little family.
WHY I LOVE IT: This little girl was really special to the bride, and so I wanted to get a photo of the two of them together in a meaningful way. The Oaklander has big windows overlooking the city, and even though the sunlight that day was pretty bright, it was a great way to photograph them in a moment that draws the eye between the light and shadows. I like how they’re separated enough to see detail in their dresses and take advantage of the split in the window, but that they’re connected perfectly with holding hands.
WHY I LOVE IT: The Allegheny County Courthouse is hard to light, and so I tried something with more off-camera and I think it paid off!
WHY I LOVE IT: The first signature image on my website is a couple smiling as they exit the church, and so I’m a huge sucker for images like this. There’s just nothing that beats this moment!
WHY I LOVE IT: This location at Point State Park isn’t my first go-to, but I liked the reflection that day. When editing, I wanted to make it a little more magical and light with the colors, and so I think the editing really helped this image come to life.
WHY I LOVE IT: Had to include another doggie photo, and this couple was really great to work with! I liked that we got to photograph them on the top floor of their apartment building, which was a unique location, and how the dog is looking directly at the camera is perfect!
WHY I LOVE IT: We all know how Katy’s wedding dress was something totally unique and different to see – there’s no denying that! Accentuating the dress that means so much to her was important, and so we did that using the museum staircase!
WHY I LOVE IT: Another image where the couple is looking directly at-camera, but I love it because these two brought so much confidence on the day of the wedding. Mix that with the classic Pittsburgh yellow bridges, and you’ve got a big winner.
WHY I LOVE IT: For this photo, I asked Bree to simply go up and touch her wedding dress and try to take it down. I knew the light was great, and that the curtains were framing the dress perfectly, and so I tried something different to highlight her veil by getting down to a low angle. It really paid off! Sometimes I need to remember to try different heights for my angles for a totally different look.
WHY I LOVE IT: I switched to different gear for this full year, and so I’ve learned a few tricks with it throughout the year. I learned that my Fuji glass makes flare differently than my older Nikon glass, and so this was a time when I learned a big trick with it! My Fuji glass is coated with an anti-glare coating, but when I set it to ~f/22 for images I get a really great sun flare effect. If I put that sun on the very edge of the frame, then, it starts to sparkle. New things are learned at every session!
WHY I LOVE IT: There is something to be said for cool light techniques, but it’s something different to also capture one of my brides in a moment of true happiness and joy, looking right at the camera. Here, Amber looks so happy, and the city skyline highlights some of the story of her wedding day.
WHY I LOVE IT: This is one of my favorite easy-to-access spots in the city, because the light is always pretty and this little garden at Phipps offers a lot of variety. On this day in July, it gave us a ton of color, a pretty sparkle of sunshine, and then Gabriella’s dress laid just-so on the stairs.
WHY I LOVE IT: Again, trying new lighting techniques this one was a challenge. Why? Because this day was RAINY! And overcast! But I knew that Christa’s style was leaning more toward a ‘light and airy’ style that a sunny day would really lend to in her photos. Instead of just giving in, I decided to create some of my own sun using an off-camera flash, and a little bit of editing magic. You see the bride + bridesmaids hair? It looks like a little bit of sunlight is hitting the back of their heads. You don’t get that on an overcast day, but you can if your photographer “makes some sun”! 🙂
WHY I LOVE IT: Perhaps my most popular image of 2019 on Instagram, this photo is just WARM, and PITTSBURGH, and LOVE, and LIGHT, and COLOR. It speaks volumes to my style and what I’m looking for in any given session or wedding. It was created using my MagMod grid + gel, and then just waiting for the right cars to come by with their headlights. Posing a couple on the Roberto Clemente bridge can also be a little tricky, because it’s a tight space, but it all worked out!