I have been to many places where three out of four visitors are swinging a camera or perhaps at least a camera phone. Everyone wants to capture their own memories, whether the weather is perfect or not, the angle just right, or the crowd cooperative.
It’s understandable. After all, they are your memories.
And if you’re wondering, I have carried a camera to Niagara Falls, the Hoover Dam, Statue of Liberty and other natural or man-made wonders. I’ve taken the obligatory shot of the popular, but typically it’s the out-of-the-ordinary that interests me.
Perhaps it’s my photojournalistic leanings. I look for the reaction of the crowd, the impact of nature, the light and the shadow. I’m as likely to work to capture the solar flare in the corner as the majesty of a statue.
This explains why I often catch what others might miss, the background in disarray during a portrait session, the colorful foliage in the foreground, waiting to frame my subject.
As a photographer in the Catskills, I’m surrounded by the wonder of the region every day. I admire the mountains on mundane outings to a grocery run or to a gas station. They’re unavoidable.
I see the shots of colorful fall foliage shared by friends on Facebook and give the obligatory “thumbs up” if the image prompts a smile.
Hell, every year scores of “leaf peepers” flock to the Hunter area to catch a glimpse of perfection. The bigger the better, they must think as they aim their iPhones toward Hunter Mountain or Black Dome, Windham High Peak Slide or Westkill.
I prefer the smaller subjects. It could be a lone tree sitting peacefully in a pasture, or a single leaf capturing the early colors of fall.
At a wedding, all eyes are on the bride and groom, from the moment their eyes meet through the cutting of the cake. As a wedding photographer, I have the privilege and responsibility to capture moments most guests miss.
Those could be near private exchanges between a parent and the bride-to-be, a laugh between the best man and groom or even a moment alone between the bride and her dress.
I remember a wedding in Greenville where, while guests gathered to watch the ceremony, I captured the bride catching a breeze in her gown behind them all. She twirled in the sunshine for her and her alone – and my lens, smiling in my direction.
I remember a moment in Durham when the groom grinned ear to ear, happiness overflowing as even his bride, glancing away missed it.
In Tannersville I photographed a proposal, where even those who were in on the surprise missed the moment. The surprise on her face was as pure as they come.
Intimate affairs, small weddings and parties, are a joy to photograph. I’ve worked plenty of large formal weddings, but it’s the smaller events on the family farm, in the favorite barn or at the bed and breakfast, that remain with me.
At a large event, the bride and groom, perhaps their parents and the wedding party consume much of the focus, naturally. To the other 100 or so people in attendance, I’m the fellow in front, in the way of their Facebook post.
At a smaller event guests tend to warm up to me. When it’s just the closest friends and family, I become a new part of that group for the day.
When everyone’s guard is down, we get the good stuff – the comfortable and genuine emotion. Honestly, I love photographing these smaller events. Maybe two parties really are better than (n)one. That’s not only because a celebration is a wonderful thing, but outcomes are even better when subjects are familiar.
Thanks for reading. Reach out, if I can be of any help. You can also find, follow & like Jonathan Ment Photography on Facebook and at www.catskillsphotographer.com and check out the broad-topic’d “Observational Ramblings” of the Ment Media Group’s “Business Blog.”