“What the heck is an axe major?” That was the question I found myself asking a man named Wizard at 1:15 am in the downstairs bar of Timberline Lodge following their Ravens Nest Wedding. The bride and groom and all their college buddy had just broken out into song. It was one of the most impressive group drinking songs I’ve ever heard. If you had heard them from down the hall, you would have thought they were a group of Irish man fresh off the boat and drunk on Guinness. We knew Adara and Alex had met in marching band at Humboldt State College, but I had no idea what that actually meant until their wedding day.
None of the schools I went to had a marching band, so most of what I knew about marching bands were things I’d seen in movies. As a wedding photographer, I think it’s important to get to know my clients well enough that I have some kind of understanding of who they are and what’s important to them. It informs my process and allows me to create imagery that is unique to each group I work with. Although in this case, no amount of conversation or questionnaire answers could ever have given me a true understanding of what it means to be a part of a college marching band; I had to experience it in person.
With the work I create for my clients, I strive to strike a balance between the documentary and the abstract. Authentic representations of people alongside abstract work allow me to tell a more complete story. I want my photographs to take you to the height of emotion while still remaining tethered to reality. When searching for inspiration for my work, I draw heavily from other artistic mediums, particularly painting.
The post-impressionist painters were brilliant at striking this balance. They were the first to use color in truly daring ways. The huge streaks of color brushed across the faces in their portraits were considered radical at the time. The use of color was emotional rather than realistic. The paintings of post-impressionist painter Toulouse-Lautrec are some of my favorites. His paintings reveal the magic of Paris after dark. They are filled with interesting characters all mingling under the glow of dim lights, their faces warmed by the flow of drinks and passionate conversation.
As an aesthetic to lean into for a group of musicians, post-impressionism felt appropriate.
For me, photographing weddings is about making photographs that don’t just capture the moment but truly feel like the moment. Capturing the swirling feeling of wedding day and the chaos of a party requires a touch more than just documentary capture techniques.
The double exposure in this set of photographs was created in-camera without the use of Photoshop or digital manipulation. I’m not a purist when it comes to photography, so I don’t necessarily think that this makes them inherently better. Although, it does make them feel less crafted and more candid.
Adara and Alex have a beautiful group of friends. They are tight-knit, warm, welcoming, and absolutely know how to party. I had a blast photographing their Ravens Nest Wedding at Timberline Lodge and am so grateful to have been invited to their special day.