Photographers’ Most Memorable Moments

Wedding photographers have seen just about everything, so we asked them to share their thoughts on capturing the magic of Island celebrations. Here’s their best shot.

Randi Baird: This year a couple got married in Edgartown in September. They were told by the Vineyard Transit Authority that they and their guests would have to walk from the Federated Church to Transit Depot, four long blocks, to pick up the bus to take them to their reception site in Oak Bluffs. They hired Rick Bausman and the Beetlebung Steel Band to play New Orleans Bayou music and lead the procession of bride, groom, and 200 guests. When they arrived at the depot, the dancing continued and no one wanted to get on the bus. It was great fun and the photos I shot captured the exuberance of the moment.

L.A. Brown: I got a phone call at 4 p.m. on a Saturday in May. I had just come off the tennis court. An acquaintance from the Island said, “Hey, Lisa, can you photograph a wedding of a friend of mine?” I said, “Sure, what’s the date?” He said, “Right now at East Chop. The photographer hasn’t shown up.” I told him I was in tennis clothing and could get there in 45 minutes after going home to change. He said there was no time, to come immediately.

So in tennis whites, skirt and all, I rushed to the East Chop Beach Club and caught the bride arriving. I was quite a sight in my tennis outfit but everyone was grateful and I was so glad to capture the bride and groom’s moment.

Elizabeth Cecil: One of my brides took off her gold, strappy sandals on the lawn at the Captain R. Flanders House and changed into her cowboy boots. Oh my gosh, another moment I can’t believe I forgot: the toast-and-plunge wedding where half the guests, young and old, in bathing suits and birthday suits, plunged into a still-very-frigid ocean after the couple exchanged vows. It was amazing!

Bob Gothard: I arrived on Nantucket to shoot a wedding and found that the only guests were four Yorkshire terriers dressed in T-shirts designed and made by the bride.

Karen Leaf: At weddings I’m a crying mess and sometimes I don’t know how I do the job I do. At one Vineyard wedding I photographed, the bride had recently lost her dad. The parent dance was the mom and bride – not a dry eye in the house.
Peter Simon: I was too cheap and entitled to hire a professional photographer for my own wedding in Chilmark, so I asked friends to bring their cameras. Many did, including the well-known photographer Bruce Davidson. As a special surprise wedding gift, my sister Carly, John Hall, and Kate Taylor did a rocking (and original) version of “going to the chapel.” I whipped out my camera and captured this very special moment.

Nicole Friedler: It was 2001 and I was shooting the bride as she was getting ready. She said she’d purchased a $175 off-the-rack dress because she and her husband were going to jump into the water after the wedding. They were married at the middle pier on West Chop and the reception was at her grandmother’s house next door. They had been together nine years and every summer morning here, they’d wake at 7 a.m., take their dog Pogue to the dock, throw a ball for him, and jump in after. They decided that their wedding day should be no different. So after the ceremony and portraits, we three snuck off to the pier and they jumped, along with Pogue.

Wayne Smith: It’s a sad wedding where I am not caught up in the emotions of the event. It usually comes as the couple is experiencing their first moments as man and wife. I admit it. I usually cry like a baby. Last year I was shooting a wedding on a north-shore bluff in Chilmark and the groom made me cry as he said his well-spoken vows to his soon-to-be-wife. That was a first and I won’t soon forget it.

Tips from Island photographers

When professional photographer Louisa Gould reversed roles and was a bride herself, she took the advice she offers to clients: to share her vision with her photographer, Jaxon White. She says, “I thought to myself, how do I envision my wedding? What images are floating in my head that say Louisa’s wedding? I staged the wedding according to what my literal and symbolic vision was of two people coming together and starting a new life. I thought about color combinations and good viewing perspectives for guests and the photographer. I explained this vision to my photographer who captured them beautifully.” (See page 54 for more on this wedding.) Here are seven tips from the other photographers we talked to:

  • Pick vendors you like to work with. Ask yourself if you would invite them as guests.
  • Relax and enjoy the celebration. Try not to micromanage – it takes away from your enjoyment.
  • Make a list of images you don’t want to miss.
  • Have two responsible friends, who know all the participants, gather them when needed.
  • If the wedding is outside, choose a time of day when the lighting is the most flattering: The hour or so before sunset is called the “golden hour.”
  • Don’t forget about winter weddings. They can be lovely and romantic.
  • Budget for photography – pictures can help bring back the emotions of the day.