I have photographed over 500 weddings throughout New Jersey (and surrounding areas) so join me on a little journey back through some of them. On the following page I will post photos and give a little insight and commentary into the story behind the photo. I will add new photos every month so check back. I hope you enjoy it!
It’s every Bride and Groom’s nightmare: Rain on their wedding day. Unfortunately we can’t control weather and rain does occasionally happen during a wedding. But nothing stops us from trying to make the best of it. Maybe the wedding was so important that even rain didn’t want to miss it! So as a wedding photographer I look to use the rain to my advantage and incorporate it into a photo and make it unforgettable, in a good way.
That’s what happened in this photo in the rainy Spring of 2019. Rain came down all day and all night at the Conservatory at Sussex County Fairgrounds. But after the sun set I saw an opportunity at the Gazebo just outside. The gazebo was fairly dark so I brought an extra light out and set it up inside the gazebo. When I took my shot the flash on my camera capture the raindrops in interesting colors coming down near me while the other flash inside the gazebo lit up the couple. You can’t get this shot on a dry day! So remember there is always a good side to bad things like rain on your wedding day!
This wedding photo was taken at The Castle in Roselle Park in 2019 at the Wedding of Paula and Dino. Late into the evening I took the couple outside in the same spot the ceremony was held earlier in the day. It was pitch dark, no lights at all. But I had a solution. First I brought out with me an extra Flash, did a few tests without the couple and set it up so that we would get this beautiful shot. When I was ready I went back in and called the couple. They were outside for 5 minutes max and after were right back in the reception having more dancing fun. Paula, the Bride, sent me this message after seeing the photo: “Louis, Professionally done. I was afraid I would have to be posing all night for pics, but not with you. No nagging, you made it lots of fun…Was amazed by the one you sent me, absolutely gorgeous…”
This photo was taken at Kathryn and Lorenzo’s wedding at the Montclair Golf Club. We had gone outside the venue for a few minutes to take some photos when I saw this little entrance area and immediately visualized the shot. There is something about this photo that I just love and it’s probably a combination of things. For starters I love their expressions and how relaxed they look. The way she is leaning into him is great. Her dress is perfect for this image. The roses and the building add to a very relaxed and home-like feel. It all comes together to make a very memorable image of the couple on their wedding day.
This photo was taken at the Grain House which is part of the Olde Mill Inn but a venue on its own. Both hold ceremonies and receptions independently but share the same parking lot. In this photo the bride had just finished getting ready in one of the upstairs rooms at the Grain House and I was in the little hallway with a vaulted ceiling waiting to be called in. As I waited I noticed the window and nice light coming through it. Not only that, but the window had a little bench-like ledge which would allow someone to sit there. So as soon as she was ready I had her come out and have a seat by the window. She was wearing cowboy type boots which can be seen as she had one of her legs on the bench. I love these calming, pensive and relaxed photos.
Kids love hiding from the camera when they see me pointing it in their direction. It’s like a game of hide and seek. In this shot the bride was getting ready and the flower girl engaged me in a game of hide and seek. She was hiding behind a chair when she decided to see if I was still playing along. When she came up to take a peek I took the photo!
I was taking photos of the wedding party with my Hasselblad in this shot, I had instructed everyone to look at my assistants camera in order to get a shot where nobody was looking directly at me. When I noticed the expression on the flower girls face I quickly aimed the camera in her direction and took the shot.
This shot was from a wedding at Maritime Parc inside Liberty State Park in Jersey city. The reception was held on the top floor of the venue so we had an unobstructed view of the sky. As the sun started to disappear I noticed that there was the potential for a nice sunset shot. Sometimes you have to be patient and wait for the sun to fully disappear to get the most dramatic colors. As a photographer, knowing how to time this is important since the couple shouldn’t have to stand around waiting while they have a great party going on inside. So when the time was right I asked the couple to come with me for a minute and we took this photo.
This photo was taken on the beach in Asbury Park late into the reception. I always like to take a few minutes later in the evening to find a place/situation that will make for one more great photo for the couple to have. In this case I decided to add a light behind them to give this dramatic and beautiful look. They were on the beach with me for about 5 minutes and then they went right back up to the reception at Tim McCloone’s Supper Club.
A Wedding Photographer must have a variety of photographic and interpersonal skills. He/she must know how to photograph groups of people, pose them, organize them, keep things under control in a nice way, do all that while creating beautiful photos and doing it all in a timely matter. It is not an easy job and no matter what you hear, experience is vital. Only doing this hundreds of times will you be able to do it right. But in addition to all that a wedding photographer must also know how to capture real moments just as a photojournalist would for a newspaper or magazine. Thats the case in this photo. The little boy was coming down the aisle and started crying, he was probably just nervous with all the attention. The photographer may have only a split second to capture tears and has to be positioned correctly to capture it. Notice I am at eye level with the boy. I was Kneeling down upfront and got the shot at eye level. Had I been standing the shot may not have had the same impact. PS: The boy’s Mom loves this photo! I’m sure he will get a kick out of it in a few years.
Here is another example of being positioned in the right place. Once again I am at ground level anticipating what was just about to happen. This was late in the party and I noticed that during a particular song people were starting to use the open floor to do some sort of wild dance move. The groom had just done “worm dance” (not sure if that’s the right term!) and then the bride was up. I had a feeling she would be doing something low to the ground so I literally put the camera on the floor to get a really low angle shot. As soon as I did that she slid onto the floor and started playing some air guitar. Click. Photo made. Again, had I just stood up and taken the photo from above it wouldn’t have the same impact. Photographers need to get ‘down and dirty’ to get the shots.
Since I showed some candid action shots above, I now want to present a wedding party group shot. This part of the day requires a totally different set of skills from the photographer than the candid photos above. Here the photographer needs to step away from being a behind the scenes candid photographer and must know how to guide, organize and keep everything fun and breezy for the wedding party. This shot was taken in Princeton and I used the steps to create a pleasing layout. Group shots don’t always have to be a shot where everyone is lined up in a straight line. As a matter of fact if the group is really big (say more than 8 on each side) a straight line is not the best idea. In this photo I also mixed the guys and the girls because that creates a nice balance of color. Notice also how I split up the best man and maid of honor. They are the only couple not together in the photo and the reason for that is to keep the photo symmetrical and the bride and groom centered.
Sometimes sunset photos like above aren’t possible for many different reasons, but that doesn’t mean late afternoon or outside evening photos can’t be equally nice. In this case the wedding was at the Olde Mill Inn just of rt. 287. The venue has a really nice courtyard where the ceremony usually takes place. The reception hall is just off to the right. In this photo I set up an extra flash directly behind the couple and triggered it when pressing the shutter on my camera. That extra flash illuminates them from behind outlining them with light and separating them from the background. I usually test and set the shot up with my assistant before asking the couple to come out. Again, the reason being is that I want the couple to enjoy the party as much as possible without interuption. This photo and a few others took the couple out of the party for no longer that 3 or 4 minutes.
This photograph was taken at Perona Farms, more specifically at their apple orchard which is one of the many areas they can hold a ceremony. On the surface this photograph looks like a simple photo of the ceremony, nothing spectacular or very different. But it’s what you don’t see that makes the story here. The couple had requested or expressed their desire of having a shot of the ceremony from above. But the thing is, the apple orchard is just that, an apple orchard, there are no structures to climb (other than trees), there is no balcony. In other words there is nowhere I can go to get a shot from above. So how did I get this shot? First off, I don’t use drones, so this wasn’t a drone. I also didn’t climb a tree (though a while ago I did climb a tree for a large group shot that couldn’t be done at ground level). What I did here was the following. I grabbed a Monopod out of my car. A Monopod is like a tripod except with one leg only. I extended the monopod to its maximum length (probably about 6 or 7 feet) and then attached my camera to it. Then I set the camera on a 10 second timer. After setting the timer I hit the camera shutter button and the 10 seconds started counting down…..so I quickly raised the monopod with camera over my head and tried to hold steady while the seconds counted down and the picture was taken. Adding my height, 6ft plus another 2 feet of extended arms plus another 6 feet for the extended monopod that means this photo was taken from about 14-15 feet up in the air. Enough to give us a nice overview of the scenery. Since then I have repeated this in a variety of situations that called for this solution.
The above photo was taken in the early 2000’s at a time when wedding photographers shot less images per wedding and weren’t generally shooting from many particularly creative angles. It was more of a get the “basic important shots done” and move on. There was a time when 200 photos taken at an entire wedding was about the norm. Now the norm is easily in the 4 digits. But I liked to explore different angles and perspectives right from the start. Just “doing the basic shots” wasn’t enough. Maybe that’s why back then and for a few years following many couples would always point out this image as one of the reasons they wanted to book me for their wedding. It just seemed different at the time. In this shot the couple was outside the church during the receiving line and I decided to go up the cramped steps of the church and see if I could get a shot from up there and thats when I found this window.
This photograph was taken at a wedding in Morristown New Jersey during the best man speech / toast. You can see him in the background. The couples expressions here are priceless. I actually wish I could remember what the best man said! Whatever it was it certainly hit home with the newlyweds. As a photographer I have to be ready at all times to capture these kind of moments. They happen fast. In a still frame they look like they last forever but in reality this is a fraction of a second, if you are not ready, you will miss it. I love the fact that they are hugging also. Most of the times the couples aren’t sitting that close together, but in this instant they not only laughed but also hugged at the same time. Love it!
This photograph was taken during the getting ready part of the day. When the bride puts her dress on I usually step out of the room to give her privacy and ask her to call me back in when she is mostly dressed and ready for me. When I stepped outside into the hallway the brides dog was there and was hanging out with me when he suddenly decided he had enough and was going in. He walked right up to the door and wedged himself in there and popped the door open. I had the camera ready and took this photo as the bride was just noticing her pup walking in.
This photograph of a just married Chrissy and Justin was taken at the Stanton Ridge Golf & Country Club in New Jersey. After the ceremony at the country club we explored the area and found this hill on the edge of the golf course. I asked them to go to the top so that I could take some shots of them up there. When I saw the clear sky and how the hill entered into the frame I purposefully composed the image to have lots of empty space and just a sliver of the hill showing. Its one of those photographs in which I think more is less. It’s interesting how the objective here was to get to the top to take a photo but it’s the photo of them getting to the top that to me is truly striking.
This is why I love Jersey. We can have weddings in all kinds of places. Beaches, Mountains, Lakes, Cities, Farms, you name it we have it! This photo was taken at the Jersey Shore in Spring Lake. More specifically at the entrance of a private underground tunnel that connects the beach to Spring Lake Bath and Tennis Club. This club is a venue I have photographed weddings at many times and the underground tunnel is amazingly convenient! No need to cross the busy Ocean Ave. Just go down some steps and come out on the sand! In this shot I ran into the tunnel before the couple started their way down and then zoomed in from a distance to capture the moment they first appeared on my viewfinder.
This wedding took place on the farm of a family member of the couple. The property which is on preserved farmland is tucked away in the hills of Sussex County. It was a beautiful day in a very relaxed atmosphere. In the back of the property and down a hill there was a pond with a small rowboat tied up to a post. The groom decided that he wanted to take his newly wed spouse for a ride. I recall that the entry into the rowboat by the couple was somewhat treacherous with the boat bouncing around and the groom trying to keep his balance. Somehow though they made it into the boat safely and proceeded to row into the pond. At one point the groom stopped rowing and I noticed a ripple going through the water. When he leaned in to kiss her I took the photograph. For this shot I used a fish eye lens which gives an extremely wide view that a normal lens doesn’t.
You never really know what to expect during the toasts at a wedding. Sometimes they are quick, sometimes they are really long. Sometimes they are sweet, sometimes awkward, sometimes funny and usually a mix of all that. But one thing is for sure, it is very likely that some emotions will be shown. So a photographer has to be ready to catch it! Don’t ask me what the best man said that caused this reaction but lets just say it was steamy!
This colorful photography of the bride and groom dancing at the Madison Hotel in Morristown was possible because of a few techniques I use the moment I take this type of photo. The idea here is to show motion and movement in the photo while keeping the subject (in this case the bride and groom) still and in focus. This type of photo is usually done and possible at the reception in a room with artificial light. What I essentially do is set the camera to take a longer exposure than usual and turn the flash on the camera on. Then when I take the photo I quickly zoom the lens so that I am zooming as the photo is captured. It is that zooming that creates the light streaks in the photos since the light was capture in different places in the frame in that brief moment the image was being captured.
I used the same technique at a different wedding at The Venetian in Garfield to capture the drummer of the band that was playing. The technique is great for action shots, such as dancing, bands and even DJ’s. These type of images are truly unique as it is very difficult to get the same exact result twice since so many factors are involved.
When you are taking wedding photographs in public places you can’t expect to have the whole scenery just for yourself and at the Jersey Shore it’s no different. There’s a good chance that in many candid photographs there will be people in the background. But sometimes, like this photo in Spring Lake, thats a good thing! The little boy playing in the sand and running into the frame of the photo makes the image! I was walking backwards as the couple walked in my direction and at first the boy was off to the side. Then suddenly he decided it was time to make a run for it and just took off, shovel and all! As soon as I saw him do this I knew that I had to take the photo before he disappeared behind the couple. A fraction of a second later and it wouldn’t have been the same. We have many photos of just the couple, so having this extra one with that little boy is a big bonus. To me the image says, “Most important day in our lives AND just another day at the beach” all in the same frame.
Let’s stay on the beach since we have more unexpected photo bombers making appearances. This wedding was at McLoone’s Pier House in Long Branch and the ceremony was just getting under way when a little beach goer just randomly wandered into the photo and decided to sit in the best seat in the house. This little girl must have been marveled by the idea of a wedding taking place right there on the beach in front of her very own eyes! From the corner of my eye I saw her Mom quickly approaching and I knew the opportunity for this shot wouldn’t last. So I quickly took the shot. A couple seconds later Mom swept her up and took her away. Notice how one bridesmaid sees the girl. I don’t think the couple knew of this wedding crasher until they saw the photograph.
Lets complete a beach trilogy here. In this shot, also a Jersey Shore Wedding, the fisherman didn’t run into the frame. As a matter of fact I could have easily framed him out….and I did in other shots…. but I simply couldn’t pass on the opportunity to include him in one of the photographs. It’s not often you get a chance to show in a wedding photo just everyday activities contrasting that to the most important day in someones life, so when you get a chance you have to take that shot! Lesson to be learned here with these 3 photos…. you never know what you are going to get at a beach wedding and who might make a cameo appearance!
Some years ago, to be exact in 2006, I photographed a wedding on a weekend in which the entire east coast was experiencing the remnants of Hurricane Ernesto. Ernesto was a category 1 hurricane that by the time it made it’s way to New Jersey it was already a Tropical storm. But don’t let that fool you, a tropical storm is no joke, especially when the wedding reception is taking place ON THE BEACH! (story continued below)
Winds were gusting up to 60 MPH and enormous waves were crashing on the beach. The
ceremony was held inland at a church and from there we made the journey to Windows on the Water in Sea Bright where the reception was going to take place. Obviously being that the wedding reception was at the beach the original idea was to take some photos on the sand at some point and even with the storm the couple and I kept an open mind about it. We would play it by ear and make a call when the time came.
After arriving at the venue we went upstairs to where the party was and as guests admired the view of crashing waves the reception got underway. Later on, the three of us ventured downstairs to where the door leading directly to the beach was. I can’t remember exactly, but I recall that the wind was so strong that I had either a hard time opening or closing the door, maybe both! With sand, wind and rain blowing everywhere I looked at the couple and said “It’s up to you guys? I’ll do whatever you want”. They looked at each other and said “Yea we better not!”. Instead we headed back upstairs for the cake cutting. That’s when I took the above photo of a newlywed couple having a great time despite a hurricane happening right behind them.
Oh….and did I mention, the Groom’s dads name … Ernesto. Which was also the name of the Hurricane! True story!
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About the Photographer: Louis Schroder has photographed over 500 weddings in the New Jersey New York area and is also available for family portraits, events and other photographic projects. Please email or call me for inquiries. Follow me on Instagram for my photographs on a variety of subject matter. https://www.instagram.com/schroderphotog/