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A wedding photographer’s wish-list and my ideal wedding conditions: May 2015 update

I'm photographing an engagement session at Dinosaur Land today, something I wished for way on back in 2011. It reminded me of this blog post I wrote in 2013 about the places and conditions under which I wanted to shoot. It's about time I checked in and updated the list. I haven't made too much progress, and one venue has stopped operating entirely, but I'm happy to say I can check off a couple. And I can feel the Star Trek wedding coming...
Every wedding photographer has a wish-list, whether they've got it written down or just in the back of their heads. For instance, my buddy Maggie wants nothing more than to photograph a circus wedding - with a striped tent and performers and all that good stuff. That sounds awesome to me, but it wouldn't make the list. But before I give people having their wedding at hotels or golf courses or vineyards a big sad, I thought I'd instead muse on my favorite wedding things.

My ideal wedding conditions

I get asked this question a lot, so maybe it should instead be an Infrequently Asked Question. Potential clients ask me about my ideal wedding conditions. They think I'm going to say something like good weather, outdoors, sunset ceremony, beautiful venue. Those things are nice. Certainly if I were given complete free reign to make a wedding (ha!) I'd make it sunny, golden hour all day, no bugs, gorgeous outdoor venue with funky artsy indoor spaces and - heck - let's just put the whole thing in Paris. In reality, the only thing that really matters are the people. A gorgeous venue in perfect light is great, but if everybody's all mopey, it's crap to photograph. I love weddings with lots of rambunctious kids or drunk friends or really tight families that are constantly hugging and laughing. I love weddings with activities - lawn games, pre-wedding festivities, art projects. I love weddings with a crazy dance floor. I love weddings filled with happy people. Everything else is just window dressing. So, that said, you can see that my wish-list basically doesn't matter. Happy people in an Applebee's trump mopey people on a beach in Hawaii any day. But...

My wedding wish list

Places and circumstances I would be freakin' ecstatic about photographing. Star Trek wedding. This is hands-down #1 on my list. I'm talking all-out set design, costumes, boldly-going-where-no-one-has-gone-before vows, taser instead of bouquet... I want to photograph a Star Trek wedding. Seriously. Come to me. Wedding at a zoo or aquarium. (August 2015 I'll photo a wedding at the Maryland Zoo!) Skydiving, white water rafting or other extreme-sport wedding. Okay, so I've never been skydiving, so I don't know if I could even take a single photograph while doing it. But I'm sure down for the challenge. I've done a hot air balloon engagement session, so I'm ready to ramp it up for the actual vows. Hawaii. I think Hawaii is on this list because I can't imagine flying myself there. I'm not much of a beach person, so getting a trip together over places like Greece or Thailand is just not in the cards... at the moment. My travel ends up being all rugged and somewhat painful and grueling. But Hawaii seems like this magical land of always-great weather and absolutely jaw-dropping scenery and generally a wonderful place. Whenever I imagine photographing something, I always imagine I have a bride and groom to place in the scene. Hawaii wouldn't be the same without a wedding.

Venues I want to shoot at

So those are the big four. But while I was putting the list together, I came up with a bunch of venues I'd like to shoot at, and this seems like as good a time to mention them as any. Probably this year I'll get my ish together and do a post on my favorite venues I've already been to (hello Patapsco Female Institute), but for now, here's my want-tos.
  • American Visionary Arts Museum (I worked there just a couple weeks ago - blog post coming very soon!)
  • Rawlings Conservatory I have a thing for greenhouses.
  • Glen Echo Park I'm honestly a little surprised I haven't already shot a wedding at Glen Echo. Personality-wise, it seems like it'd be a really good fit for the kinds of people that hire me. It's an incredibly cool place. I've done a handful of engagements there, but no weddings (yet!).
  • Union Station
  • Corcoran Gallery of Art (The Corcoran is being reborn under the Smithsonian and the Smithsonian doesn't rent venues for weddings. I missed my chance, but it's OK.)
  • Torpedo Factory I take ceramics classes with the Torpedo Factory, so maybe the cosmic connection will work out for me.
  • George Peabody Library Gah, this place is amazing.
  • THE BEACH! Okay the last two are not specific places, but in my four years of photographing weddings, I have yet to do one on the beach! No sand, no ocean, no waves, no seagulls for me. I don't know why, but I sure would love to photograph a wedding barefoot.
  • Annapolis. Same thing, really. I'm so close to Annapolis, and it's so darn cute and historic, but so far no big weddings downtown, though I have been there for a handful of intimate weddings.
Well that about wraps up this ridiculously long post that I can't imagine anyone caring about. But, in the end, I'm an asker not a guesser, so I figure it can't hurt to throw it out there. Star Trek weddings, come to me! I will photograph the crap out of that!

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