Sunflowers at Sunrise: An After-Wedding Photo Story

I wanted these AFTER the wedding photos to be fully unposed, but wasn’t sure how to do this as I got in my car, under the dark sky, before I met newlyweds, Andy and Kate, at sunrise.

I’ve grown into a photographer that thrives on documenting motion and moments when no one is paying attention – with no direction from me. I wasn’t sure what to do with Andy and Kate once we got to the sunflower field on this August morning. You see, there is sentimental history for the couple here, but not in a wedding dress & tux sort of way.

How do I combine making pictures of meaning and yet undirected + honest in THIS scenario?

This Michigan property belongs to Kate’s Grandfather and is a piece of family tradition.

Andy and Kate participate with the rest of the Kate’s family, spring after spring, throwing the sunflower & zinnia seeds into the dirt to create a beautiful field of color by summer’s end. One day, with the help of Kate’s dad, Andy proposed to Kate in the sunflower patch.

I was overjoyed when the couple hired me to be their engagement + wedding photographer. We did these photos later (after the wedding) for my own musing, because, what a story + what a location, right?!

In a typical couple’s work with me, we’d plan it around a meaningful activity to keep them busy and no attention on the camera. A questionnaire would be completed, I’d read between the lines, and go from there. This makes for honest, real moment documenting of something they’ve anchored as VALUE.

Here, being in a field and in wedding attire, I did only what I knew how in such a foreign, yet familiar scene: I kept them moving and documented the details + whatever organic moments came out of their movement.

There are a few portrait-type photos in here, but overall I tried my best not sway away from who I am as a shooter just because I was in unfamiliar territory. What else could I do, beside let them sit there and chit chat? It’s not like I could re-create the proposal. And, this was end of summer, not exactly planting season for these beauties. The “Proposal Patch” sign was used for their save the date photo, so it was fun to incorporate it here.

The moral of the story here: documentary family or couples (or whatever) photography doesn’t have to be black and white. Do the best with what you have to work with and you can STILL create highly meaningful photographs for your clients (or yourself). The couple has more history here than they do their wedding venue 😉

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Author: MarieMasse
I help client documentary photographers fine-tune their workflow + marketing game, so their work is filled with sessions that represent their voice + client values while earning a living. I shoot undirected, off-beat stories that aren’t preserved often enough (like the story of couples before starting a fam or becoming empty-nesters – a dream project of mine), so my clients’ old box of photos is a meaningful, visual diary of their life + legacy to leave behind.

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