Photographing a wedding is a unique experience, as the photographer has to capture numerous private glances and moments between the couple, often amid the hustle and bustle of a giant party. It’s all about creating a narrative and storytelling through images.
To select a wedding photographer, take your time on Instagram, where each professional will highlight the best of their best, then dig deeper into their individual websites. This is where you’ll see how they build entire wedding narratives, highlighting everything from creative shots specific to the region (i.e. staging wedding rings on wine corks at a vineyard wedding) to barefoot gown/suit shots on the beach to fun reception photos.
Picking a wedding photographer who lives on or near the North Fork (at least part time) will be helpful, as they’ll know the area and venues well and will be familiar with the special nooks and crannies that make the perfect shot.
Some photographers, like Caroline Rocchetta, write blog posts for each wedding or engagement shoot, so potential clients can see how they view the wedding through the couple’s eyes and form a bond with them.
“I am a documentary storyteller,” Rocchetta says. “That’s why one of the first things I want to know is how the couple met. It gives me insights into the two of them.”
Orient native and photographer Mary Latham (yes, she is distantly related to the farm family) started taking photos just for fun at a cousin’s wedding, but when her photo capturing a single tear traveling down the bride’s face as her father made his speech won a photography prize, she was hooked.
Today, she is all about capturing those serendipitous moments.
“Wedding photography isn’t about the perfect lighting or the perfect posed photos,” she says. “It’s about the perfect moment.”
One way to achieve those moments is to make a connection to learn what’s important to the couples.
“If the bride is wearing a bracelet that was a grandparent’s, I’m going to talk to the mom about that. I want them to know that I ‘get it’ and what it’s all about,” says Latham, who calls the parents of the bride ‘Mom and Dad.’
While couples don’t always submit formal “shoot lists” to photographers anymore, it is important to explain to the photographer who’s who.
“Knowing about divorces or step-parents can help things go more smoothly, and I also tell couples to sit down together a few days before the wedding and think about those who you won’t see for a while,” she said. “Maybe someone who is flying in, or a close college friend, or a favorite aunt, so I can get a good photo that might be good for a gift later.”
Rocchetta said planning a wedding photography timeline is also important.
“On the North Fork, you want to capture those moments that are unique to the region,” she said. “That might mean coaxing a family of ducks you spot to waddle past the bride and groom at just the right moment or convincing a couple to dash outside in a downpour for that romantic ‘Notebook’-esque shot.”
Endless hours scrolling through Instagram and other photo sites has also made brides (and grooms) more discerning in their photographic tastes.
“People have a better understanding now of what they want. One trend that is popular in wedding photography is a dreamy ‘light and airy’ look,” notes Scott Goldberg of North Fork Wedding Films & Photography. “Today, we can manipulate raw photos in a thousand different ways with colors and pre-sets to create the perfect effect.” But, he admits, the North Fork’s natural beauty and the special aspects of the venues make his job easier. Favorite places to shoot? Pellegrini and RGNY (formerly Martha Clara) vineyards, Peconic River Herb Farm, The Vineyards at Aquebogue and the historic Suffolk Theater.
Dreamy and sunny is a signature for photographer Kaitlyn Ferris, whose tagline is “Sun Chaser and Seeker of Everything Magic.”
“Having grown up on the North Fork, I know how beautiful it is out here. I try to shoot at Golden Hour and the couples always tell me how magical the shots are. While you can’t control the weather on your wedding day, we try to make sure the engagement shoot is in the sunshine!”
Ferris also tries to prevent couples from getting so wrapped up in the shoot that they can’t enjoy the day.
“With social media, there’s such high expectations of weddings, but I always tell them, it’s not a photo shoot, it’s a wedding,” she said. “And it’s not someone else’s wedding that you saw on Instagram or Pinterest, it’s your wedding, done with your special touches.”
Ferris’ favorite places to shoot are Peconic Bay Yacht Club and Salt Air Farm, and she finds that the latter sums up the region.
“Salt Air has orchards where you can grab a piece of fruit off a tree, stand in fields of flowers for a shoot, and then they’ll release doves!” she noted.
For unique wedding shots, couples can turn to photographer David Benthal, whose portraits and photography work already fill the pages of Northforker magazine. True to form, he carries his aesthetic with him into his wedding photography, with a twist.
“When I’m making portraits for editorial or commercial clients, I control the scene, the lighting and often the styling,” he said. “I love the challenge of weddings because I’m forced to be responsive to what’s happening around me and make creative and beautiful images on the fly.”
And with darker, moodier lighting than traditional wedding photography, Benthal brings a unique depth and contrast to his images.
“I want to be giving people something that they haven’t seen before,” he said.
She said ‘yes!’
Before there’s a wedding, or even an engagement, there needs to be a proposal. And more and more grooms are hiring professional photographers to surreptitiously capture the proposal for all eternity (and social media). Once betrothed, the happy couple might then enlist a photographer for a full-on engagement session to use as a save-the-date image, for their wedding website or just to keep for themselves.
Photographer Madison Fender, a California native living in Greenport, applies her photojournalist background to fine art photography and weddings, but she loves shooting proposals, even offering the grooms ideas during the consultation on how and where to pop the question.
“It’s really an adrenaline rush to go undercover and shoot a proposal,” she said. “I might be hiding in the bushes waiting for the guy to drop to his knee, or maybe I’m pretending to work at a winery, so I’m there at the right moment.”
Once done, Fender delivers the touched-up “money shot” (imagine him on one knee with the ring, or her reaction) within a day so they can announce it on Instagram.
North Fork engagement shoots might feature the couple at their favorite beach or pursuing a local activity like strolling the vines, boating or fishing.
“Photographer trust is also key for your engagement shoot, since you’re essentially hiring a stranger to follow you around while you’re kissing!” Rocchetta said. She suggests including the couple’s pet in the session to ease awkwardness.
“Bring along your fur baby,” she said. “It captures what’s unique about you.”
Another increasingly common photo shoot? Boudoir shots. These are sexy yet tasteful shots of the bride-to-be, gifted to the groom on or before the wedding day. “Brides usually do boudoir shoots right after their hair and makeup trial,” Fender said. “They look amazing; why waste it?”