We had the chance to chat with Joshua Rainey about how he got into wedding photography, his unique style, favorite shots, and even his uncanny habit of sneaking a "Where's Waldo?" selfie into at least one wedding photo. Read on to learn more about this Pacific Northwest wedding photographer (who'd run triathlons and own his own brewery if he wasn't taking photos).
How did you get into photography? Are you self taught or formally trained?
I started getting into photography after graduating high school in 2001 and instantly love it! I bought my first camera and went to town learning how to shoot film, shooting my first two weddings in 2002. I made the switch to digital in 2005, but still shoot both mediums when possible.
How did you get into wedding photography specifically?
I never decided to start doing weddings but really just got roped into it at first. I quickly realized that I love telling a story with photos and weddings are an ideal outlet for that creativity. I get to create images that look great and convey a beautiful story, perfection.
Describe your style in one sentence.
Fine art photojournalism photography that focuses on capturing emotion and beauty in every shot.
What’s been your favorite experience as a wedding photographer?
I’ve had numerous occasions where I help keep the bride/groom calm or help them navigate through difficult or stressful situations. I can’t narrow it down to one experience but if I can make their day better with or without the camera, that’s the most rewarding for me.
What do you love most about photographing weddings? Why do you photograph weddings in particular?
There is so much emotion at every wedding and things happen so quickly! I am forced to stay ready and continue observing no matter what part of the day it is. And, every wedding is so unique; I get to enjoy (and photograph) a one-of-a-kind experience every time!
Where is the most interesting or unique place you’ve photographed a wedding? Was there anything especially challenging about it?
I photographed a wedding inside the Yaquina Head Lighthouse in Oregon. It was amazing and cramped. My 2nd photographer had to be on the spiral staircase during the ceremony and I was standing with the guests. Such a beautiful spot though!
Do you have a favorite, must-capture moment for every wedding?
So many! I actually have a fun little mental checklist of things I absolutely have to shoot at every wedding. Of course all the main stuff is in there, but I really love the quirky not so normal shots too. For example: I always include a super hidden “Where’s Waldo” selfie of me in the photos so couples have to figure out where I am as they’re looking through the crazy number of photos I give them. I also include somebody holding two drinks, groom holding the bouquet, the aftermath of cake cutting, etc.
What’s the most unique photo you’ve ever taken at a wedding?
Easy one here. I shot a wedding in Dorris, CA in March and the weather was cold and dry… until the reception started. The snow started coming down heavier than I’ve ever seen. My 2nd photographer for the day was my good friend Keith from Heartwood Films and he suggested that we do a couple shots with the bride and groom in the snowstorm. So Keith grabbed a couple flashes and some radio triggers and ran outside and literally put his body in the snow to backlight the couple. I ended up shooting from inside the reception hall (I had to I swear, it was the perfect angle, haha!) while the three of them got snowed on like crazy for a few minutes. I just love how the photo tells so much and looks beautiful at the same time. You can almost feel the cold of it, but at the same time the bride and groom look warm (with love, yeah, I know it’s cheesy).
What are your favorite wedding trends to photograph right now?
Screw the trends. Not very trendy over here, really just want to be original. That being said, inspiration is a great thing as long as it’s not copied! I am really liking grooms in blue suits though.
How do you think an app like Joy can help make weddings better?
Being able to plan everything in one spot and while on the go is a huge plus for my couples! Using the Joy app to have it all in your phone is mind-boggling in a good way.
If you weren’t a wedding photographer, what would you be doing?
How can I choose just one thing? It’s not possible for me. I’ll just narrow it down to my top 10!
- Stay at home dad
- Travel photographer
- Fly fishing guide
- Professional rec league softball player
- Professional triathlete (if I had a different body, more time, and way more money)
- Brewery owner
- Flipping houses
- Teacher (photography of course)
- Studio recording drummer
- Sports photographer