Stop Motion Wedding Photography ~ A Marriage of Moving and Still Images

It’s often said, “It’s wasteful not to use the whole thing”. Taking this fully to heart I’ve decided to do something a little different with this wedding. I used every frame I shot, well… almost. I did the math, I used 94.7% of the images shot on Dan and Eric’s wedding day. Below you’ll see why but first (if you care to know) allow me to digress from Eric and Dan for a moment, and talk about the how and the why I’m trying something a little different for a change.

Way back in the early 2000’s I was in college. I was in what I like to call— “real college”, before my days at Art Center.  I was living on campus, going to fraternity parties (or doing my best to avoid them whenever possible), working at Starbucks, doing darkroom printing for extra cash, and I even interned for a… wait for it— a wedding photographer. I was 19 and life was packed full of unknowns, experiments, $100 1GB CF cards, crappy beer, The Postal Service, darkroom all-nighters, and (how could I forget?), flared jeans. Those were good times indeed.

I was working in my college’s photo equipment room one semester when I met a guy named Gregg who was to be my lab partner. Without much work, a friendship formed. Soon Monday mornings and several afternoons a week consisted of Mexican food, laptops, cameras, and learning how to make stop-motion videos with Gregg. Gregg taught me everything I needed to know about Adobe Premiere and when he wasn’t around, Keay, my digital photo teacher and the photo lab tech, would supplement by teaching me AfterEffects. To this day I am indebted to the both of them for all they taught me. (Side note, you might remember Gregg from his freakin’ awesome Palm Springs wedding I shot last year.)

Being that it was early 2004 and I was shooting digital, at least in my personal life, I was shooting far more frames than I would with film. I figured, what better way to look back on hundreds of digital files than to string them together with a little music? So for no other reason than to document my life I started making little stop actions of my own.

A couple years later, after ditching real college for Art Center I made a few more stop-action videos. This time using a scanner in place of a camera and old sequential frames shot on chrome from the 80’s. Thank you dad ;) The work was classic 22-year-old stuff and yes, it’s still scary to show, but here you go if you’re interested. (I’ll just close my eyes and plug my ears while you watch it.)

Fast forward to 2013— enter Dan and Eric. When I met with them over the phone, (they live in LA), they told me all about their day and what they had planned. They told me about their AirBNB rental in Williamsburg, (aka my home and favorite ‘hood), and how they were planning to take the East River Ferry to Wall Street, then cab it to City Hall and from there walk around and eventually end up at the Library Hotel for lunch. The day they described seemed so organic and Eric and Dan had an attitude of “…and then we’ll just see what happens”. Needless to say I was stoked when they decided to book me as their photographer.

When Dan and Eric got into NYC a few days before the wedding I wanted to meet them in real life, so we met up for some beers. It was then that I told them about my idea to shoot a few scenes for a potential stop-action movie. Nothing too crazy, but I wanted see how a wedding day would translate through a quirky stop-action sequence. They were down and better yet, they totally trusted me.

So why all of a sudden did I want to try this out after so long? I’ll tell you— I’ve been shooting weddings since 2006, the last 3 years of which have been full-time. When it all started I thought I had to take ‘wedding style’ photographs. What does even that mean?! At the time, to me, it meant I had to shoot brides and grooms dip kissing each other and couples arbitrarily walking through a park in clothes that were way too fancy for the occasion. In short, I felt like there was my ‘wedding work’ which was mildly fake and contrived and then this other stuff I did. I’ll save the story on my creative trials and tribulations of the last couple years for another post, so for now I’ll just say this…

I’m at a place in my career where I love what I am doing and for the first time I am seeing that there is no such thing as wedding photography. There is good photography and not good photography. There are those who create new ideas and those that follow in their footsteps and imitate. There are photographers and there are people who have cameras. Who am I? I’m a photographer, I’m a creative, and I shoot weddings. I don’t shoot one way for a wedding and another for a commercial job. I don’t change the way I shoot; the only thing that changes is what I’m shooting and perhaps, who I’m shooting for. Whether I’m shooting portraits for myself, a client, or shooting a wedding, the images I make take a great amount of thought and skill and technology to create. At the end of the day I want to give my clients something that’s special and entirely personalized. I want to give them a product that is not only easy to share with their friends and family but that’s fun too. I want to give them an experience.

What I get to do for a living is a gift and an incredible honor. It’s not lost on me how insanely lucky I am to live the life I do. Creating something that allows people to relive their happiest day over and over again in a way that will not only remind them what it looked but also of what they felt isn’t easy, but when I succeed at doing that, there is no greater feeling of satisfaction and joy. There’s nothing quite like creating images that mean so much to a single person. As cheesy as this sounds, it’s so rewarding because in that I find my purpose. What could be better?

For Dan and Eric— the two of you are far more than a couple who got married, you’re a little sign to everyone that love, is love, is love. Congratulations to you both. I’m so glad to know you and call you my new friends. <3

One last thing, the video you’ll find below is simple. It’s not technically perfect but that wasn’t so much the intent here. Hopefully it’ll throw a little more light on Dan and Eric’s wedding day than the images alone and hopefully it’s fun to watch too.

Video music ~ The Light by The Album Leaf