Wedding Photography: Josh and Jess

Josh and Jess First Dance

            When most people think of Florida, they conjure visions of beaches and palm trees dotting an endless coastline, and then maybe a castle a mouse lives in.

Josh and Jess Wedding Rings in Grass

            These images, while accurate, don’t capture the true heart of Florida. Most of the state is lush, thick patches of greenery. Massive oaks coated in vines, palmetto leaves like elephant ears, coarse blades of grass a quarter inch across, and wild flowers springing through thick underbrush. It was through this Florida that Jess strode barefoot to wed Josh, standing under an arch of trees branches he twisted together by hand.

The wedding location
Jess walking down the aisle

            The scenery for this wedding was entirely unique—Josh’s family owns a large plot of land in central Florida, much of it left to Mother Nature to do as she will. In every shot I attempted to capture the feeling of living in nature. It lent a magical, Midsummer Night’s Dreamvibe to the ceremony accentuated by details like the nest the rings were presented in and the white flowers in the bridesmaids’ hair.

Josh and Jess tie the knot as it were
You may now kiss the bride

            One other unique part of this shoot from a technical standpoint: everything is shot with natural light. This was not entirely by choice. In a rush to get to the wedding, my shooting partner Kelly and I packed everything: cameras, lenses, memory cards, batteries. Everything except lights and an on-camera flash. After initial panic subsided, the lack of a flash turned into a blessing. We were forced to work with what nature provided, and only that. Looking back, it really is the best way this wedding could have been shot. To try and cheat nature with a flash would have gone against everything an Old Florida Backyard Wedding should be. The sun in the sky gave us all the light we needed and the thick tree cover provided the best diffuser you could ask for. 

Josh and Jess in natural light

            Equally vibrant were the subjects themselves: you’ll see this gallery is full of gigantic smiles, impromptu kisses, and hilarious facial expressions. Everyone involved in the wedding was so overwhelmed with excitement (and possibly tequila) to hide their emotions from the camera, even during the staged group photos. As a photographer, it’s rewarding to shoot people who aren’t worried about pretending to be someone else in front of the camera. Every photo here captures how special these people are, how much they love each other, and what a joy they are to be around. That’s all you can ask for, really.

The bridesmaids put on their serious face

            And yes, I am double-checking my gear bag for a flash before every shoot from here on out.

Jess getting ready before the ceremony
Josh and the groomsmen walking to the wedding
The groomsmen and their most important possessions
Jess and Jen
Walking through a magical Florida forest
Cutting the cake
Kiss behind photos
The bridesmaids dance
The groomsmen share a drink
Exchanging Rings
John Woodruff