Photography changes the way we plan, experience, and remember weddings

Laurie Lambrecht

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Laurie Lambrecht [ BIO ]

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Laurie Lambrecht

Laurie Lambrecht, artist and photographer, has specialized in wedding photography for the past ten years. Her commissioned work has been published in the New York Times, Martha Stewart Wedding, Modern Bride, and Elegant Bride. Lambrecht’s personal work has been exhibited in galleries in New York, Los Angeles, and London.

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Laurie Lambrecht, photographer, describes how weddings are both conceived of and experienced as a series of photo ops.

It is hard to imagine a wedding without photography. For many brides, grooms, and families, the day is conceived of as a series of "photo ops" that are designed to shape and capture memories of the event. I’ve been photographing weddings for years, and if I were asked whether the cutting of the cake is really about sharing that first slice or getting the “right” photograph of that act, experience tells me that, these days, more and more weddings revolve around picture making.

Brides see their wedding day as a rite of passage and by the time I meet with them they have already written up long lists of required shots or, at the very least, ”hoped for” photos of every step along the way. As a professional photographer, my job is to reflect how the couple envisions themselves and their celebration. Hopefully my outlook is close enough to their own that I can be their mirror for the day. The challenge is to document the results of months of planning, all the subtle or overt details that are meant to signal who the bride and groom are now and the couple they aspire to be from this day forward.

But my job is also to observe what actually goes on when people close to the bride and groom gather in their finest attire and are (maybe) on their best behavior. It’s up to me to capture an overview of the event, and the magic of moments that neither the newlyweds nor their guests can possibly take in. As the bride is getting ready, for example, I’m simultaneously photographing that and anticipating not only what’s been planned, but what might actually happen as the day unfolds.

Weddings embrace tradition and are optimistic about the future, so photos taken need to reflect both family history and hope. Photographs made on that day will be framed and placed with pride on parents’ mantles; others will be displayed as sentimental or romantic reminders in the couple’s bedroom. Many more will be bound into albums that, years from now, will be viewed with nostalgia by generations to come.

Wedding celebrations may look like fantasy events, but very little is left unplanned. And yet, the reality is that photographs of spontaneous, unforeseen, and candid moments are the ones that ultimately capture the real joy and spirit of the event. The heart of the story is often what happens outside the scripted and stereotypical moments, beyond the range of the bride and groom’s vision. My challenge is to tell both the official and a parallel story that together reflect the love, laughter, nervous excitement, fear, seriousness, playfulness, sacredness, beauty, and unity that truly define the event.

For me, shooting a wedding is work and the momentum of the day is relentless. Events freeze only long enough to be isolated, stage-directed, and captured. Then there’s everything else that has to get covered: the church, the dress, the flowers, the flower girls, the ceremony, the first kiss, the tent, the musicians, the cake, the first dance, the grandparents, the cousins, the college roommates, the car, the toasts, the tables . . .

And it’s not only me, the wedding photographer, who’s taking pictures. When the bride is getting dressed for the ceremony, an emotion-filled event in itself, she’s surrounded by close friends and family members who busy themselves taking snapshots as the bride symbolically transforms herself and prepares to step from her past life into a new one. For guests, photography becomes a way to actively participate in the day’s rituals.

In fact, a constant stop-and-go of snapshot-taking punctuates the day, now that so many of us share information and experiences by exchanging pictures instead of words. Guests bring and use their cameras to make the photographs that will say “You’re perfect,” “I’m so proud,” “You’re beautiful,” “I’ll love you forever,” “I’ll miss you,” and “You are incredible!” Bridesmaids and groomsmen photograph each other, as well as the newlyweds, at each step. The sister of the bride grabs some quick snaps with her cell phone that will get uploaded to a wedding blog. The mother of the groom creates a digital slideshow for the couple to take on their honeymoon. The father of the bride uses a point and shoot camera as a shield to maintain his emotional distance and keep tears at bay. Cameras keep everyone busy. Photography enables us to acknowledge each other and to participate. And everyone knows when its time to pose. All you need to do is lift a camera and people immediately stop mid-bite or mid-conversation to gather together and embrace each other, if only for a fraction of a second, and until they hear the camera click.

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In the limo on the way to the wedding ceremony a father of the bride photographs his daughter. by Laurie Lambrecht
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  • In the limo on the way to the wedding ceremony a father of the bride photographs his daughter.
  • Laurie Lambrecht
A best man photographs the newlyweds and the bridal party before entering the reception hall. by Laurie Lambrecht
  • A best man photographs the newlyweds and the bridal party before entering the reception hall.
  • Laurie Lambrecht
A father of the bride takes a snap of his daughter and his wife on the doorstep before heading to the church. by Laurie Lambrecht
  • A father of the bride takes a snap of his daughter and his wife on the doorstep before heading to the church.
  • Laurie Lambrecht
A groom makes a self portrait of himself and his new bride during the wedding reception. by Laurie Lambrecht
  • A groom makes a self portrait of himself and his new bride during the wedding reception.
  • Laurie Lambrecht
A bridesmaid takes a snap of the mother of the bride assisting her daughter preparing for the wedding. by Laurie Lambrecht
  • A bridesmaid takes a snap of the mother of the bride assisting her daughter preparing for the wedding.
  • Laurie Lambrecht

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