I’ve known Rachel for almost a decade (can you believe it, Rach?), and I can’t remember a time when she didn’t have a camera on her shoulder. When she decided to leave her job to pursue photography full time at Green Chair Stories, I was the first to encourage her. She’s always had the ability to capture a moment—not just the image, but the feeling.
Rachel is a Denver-based photographer, specializing in documentary-style family photography—and her work is absolutely gorgeous. It’s like reading a picture book, as she masterfully weaves a story with her photographs. Although wedding photography isn’t her focus, her style lends itself perfectly to a couple’s special day. I asked Rachel what she loves about weddings, her must-capture moments, and why pie is the supreme wedding dessert.
How did you get into photography?
I started taking photos with my mom, because she photographed absolutely everything. There wasn’t a week that went by that we didn’t get a roll of film developed. I became my high school yearbook photographer, and then went on to study photojournalism in college.
Describe your style in one sentence.
Candid journalism with a touch of whimsy.
What do you love most about photographing weddings?
My favorite part of photographing weddings is getting to see the story of the entire day. I’m the only person there who gets to see every single aspect and every single moment between the couple. Maybe it’s my nosiness, maybe it’s my natural curiosity—call it what you will—I love to see the whole thing. I photograph weddings because I love the challenge of something new for myself. How can I tell this story differently than the other million wedding photographers would? How do I bring this couple to life in their own photos? It’s an immense thing to be trusted with!
Where is the most interesting or unique place you’ve photographed a wedding?
The most unique place, by far, was my friends’ backyard. They got married at their own home with friends and family present and it was absolutely breathtaking. They get to enjoy the memories of their wedding day every single time they step into their backyard! There was nothing challenging about it. I actually only want to photograph backyard weddings now.
Do you have a favorite, must-capture moment for every wedding?
The first time the couple sees one another. Whether that’s a first look or when they see each other at the end of the aisle. I cry every single time.
What’s the most unique photo you’ve ever taken at a wedding?
It was at that same backyard wedding. The couple was two brides and just after the ceremony, an incredible double rainbow appeared in the sky, over their fence. I got to photograph them standing under it. It’s the kind of thing that will never happen again and I’m so thrilled we all saw it!
What’s the best thing you’ve ever eaten at a wedding?
Pie! I photographed a friend’s wedding this summer and they had fresh pies there for dessert. A hit with everyone, including me.
What piece of advice would you give brides and grooms to ensure that they get wedding photos they love forever?
Honestly, just to prioritize it. Planning a wedding takes a ton of time and research. Put just as much effort into finding a photographer as you do scrolling through Pinterest looking for centerpiece ideas. Photographers are everywhere, but we all bring something completely unique to the table. Make sure you love your photographer’s style and even more so, make sure you like them! You will spend more time with them than anyone else all day long.
What piece of advice would you give to wedding guests who want to take better pictures at weddings they attend?
First of all, don’t get in the way of the photographer. They were hired and paid to capture this day for the couple. Second, accept the light situation. Rather than throw a bunch of filters on a photo, let it be moody and dramatic if that’s the actual setting of the wedding!
If you could plan your wedding all over again, what would you do differently?
If I could do it all over again, I would spend my money on two things: a killer dress and my dream photographer, whoever that is at the moment. I would go to city hall in Philadelphia, where I’m from, and I would have magical photos taken downtown. Then maybe I would invite friends and family out to a fun bar. I would save a bunch of money this way, but still get the experience and outcomes that are important to me: feeling great, being married, and having this all documented really well.
At Joy we believe that even though a wedding lasts a day, joy should last forever. What does that mean to you?
That means that you choose well, in every arena. Choosing the right partner, choosing the right vocation, and choosing joy, even when things don’t work out the way you thought they would. Our daily choices make up the entirety of our lives, so I always try to choose well.
If you weren’t a wedding photographer, what would you be doing?
A writer! I would write books, maybe for myself, maybe for other people. I would love to get paid to put words together.