Wedding photography in Pittsburgh, is always a little bit risky. Especially in March and April. One day you can have rain, the next day sun. The following day snow. Its a beautiful time of year for weddings, but it does carry a bit of risk.

I was sitting at home editing. I was pushing hard because I had to meet up with David Burke to drop off a light stand that I had borrowed. Right as I was preparing to leave, the phone rings and he asks if I want to shoot with him. It just so happens that we had just been talking about shooting as much as possible, while staying focused on a story. This is harder than it sounds. Your wedding day is a fantastic story. Its about families coming together, often meeting for the first time, its about friends becoming husband and wife, dancing, and commitment. With that in mind, how could I say no?

Often times, wedding photography is lots of beautiful portraits, photos of details, and a few moments filled in with snapshots. When you focus on telling a story, you have to find ways of showing the moments, capturing the laughter and tears, while still including the guests. Its harder than it sounds. As a storyteller, I have to be better than snap shots. At the end of the day, a wedding should be able to be told through 50-100 images, and nothing should be left out.

Each day I shoot, its pushing closer to that. Editing becomes harder, as I hold myself to higher standards, and as a documentary wedding photographer, I have to work as hard as possible, because at the end of the day, the portraits are nice, but the story is your true legacy.

Congratulations David and Stacey.

David, thanks for having me along brother.

Ceremony at St Patricks Church in Cannonsburg
Reception: Bella Sera
Video: Keith Parish: Diamond Weddings


Custom Pittsburgh Wedding Cake
Bella Sera Wedding-Pittsburgh Wedding Photography by Dan Speicher

Multiple bouquet toss-Bella Sera Reception-Pittsburgh Wedding Photographer

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After a long day of wedding photography, or any day for that matter, I love relaxing with a good cigar, and a drink. It usually ends up being a craft beer, but every once in a while a good spirit is just what the doctor ordered.

For the past year or so, my dad Ray, and sister Elle over at Smart Site Strategies have been working with DiSalvo’s Station restaurant in Latrobe. From time to time they bring me in to shoot photos, create a short video, and help create newsletter content that is needed.

A little while back after a Sunday brunch, we were down stairs smoking a cigar, when Joey asked if I could grab a few photographs for him. All I had on me was a camera, a 50mm lens, and a small video light, so we made do with what we had, and shot a few quick photos for their news letter.

I really enjoyed shooting these, but I wish that I had brought some lights with me.

Pittsburgh wedding Photography, DiSalvo's Station Restaurant, Joey D's Cigar Bar
Pittsburgh wedding Photography, DiSalvo's Station Restaurant, Joey D's Cigar Bar
Pittsburgh wedding Photography, DiSalvo's Station Restaurant, Joey D's Cigar Bar


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I’ve been a Pittsburgh based wedding photographer for nearly 7 years. I know weddings. Up until recently I didn’t know marriage.

I know that everyone says that life after marriage is a compromise. Those first months after you say I do, can be tough. But they are also some of the most exciting times in my 30 years here on earth. I married my best friend Kelly on June 21, in a small private ceremony before heading to a small beach in Canada for another intimate immediate family sunrise ceremony just a few short days later. We were married in front of our cottage, my families summer vacation home for 50 years, on the shore of Lake Erie. It was perfect.

Coming home to weddings just a few days later was an adjustment, but incredible none the less. Here we are 10 months later, and I feel like I have learned a few things already. Ive also been given some great advice by friends who have been married decades longer than us. Most of these are cliche, but here is my take on them.

Marriage is give and take. My days as a bachelor are over, and so my life should reflect that. That being said, I married someone who compliments me. But she is not me. Working from home, I like to get out of the house more. She prefers to relax at the end of the day. So we plan a schedule together. I ask her if she has the energy, and sometimes when she doesnt, but knows I need out of the house, she says yes. Some days I am ready to go socialize, but she needs me to just stay low key with her. In those moments, our health is more important than my desire to go grab a beer, or dinner with friends. At times we both compromise, but we see it more as giving what the other needs.

Fights happen. Say your sorry, tell them you love them, and forgive. Forgive means to let it go. Not just in the moment, but to really let it go. Dont throw it back at your partner later, and dont use foul language no matter how angry you are. When you let patterns of anger and language into your relationship, you are effectively saying ” I dont love you, and I dont respect you.” Never go to bed angry, and the first time you sleep on the couch after a fight, the first time you say “You arent worth the effort.”

Sharing a house is easier than you think. Just realize that you both have different ways of storing food, doing dishes, and folding laundry. As a bachelor I liked to shop a couple times a week for food. Planning a meal or two, but also deciding more last minute. My wife hates having to go back to the store, two or more times, so we make a list, plan meals, and if I want to change things up, I run out. Adding stress to your partners life, because its how you do things isnt necessary.

We all have strengths and weaknesses. My wife is super organized, good with a schedule, and always prompt or early with bills. I am none of those things. She takes care of that, I take care of the majority of cooking, and laundry. Together we tackle dishes, cleaning house, and taking care of our new Labrador Retriever Ava.
Changing your name is not as easy as it should be. Seriously, they dont make it easy.

Most important is to show your love daily. Dont just say it, do it. For us, I make Kelly coffee just about every morning. Its my way of showing her that I love her and want to serve her.

Our marriage has been incredible. We have worked on weddings together. Edited projects side by side. Traveled to India, and hosted Easter for both of our families, in our little house. We gathered around the farm tables that I built, and shared about life, love, and adventure over a pretty good meal if I do say so myself. At least pretty good for cooking for 12, even though we had enough left overs to last a family of five a week.

What did you learn in your first year of marriage?

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The place where post college graduates go to find themselves. Where those looking for spiritual clarity tend to flock. Where photographers love to travel.

Where Columbus was trying to get to.

I’ve been in Mumbai with my wife for nearly a week now. The trip is a two part event. What started out as a delayed honeymoon, has turned into two weeks of shooting for some incredible people.

It starts out in Mumbai with our longtime friend Dr John Abraham and his wife Ammini. His clinic serves the poorest of the poor in his area. People will often come from miles away, to get his help.

When the monsoons come, he is very busy taking care of entire families that are suffering from colds or the flu. He has often worked with these families for more than 20 years, and some for as long as 35 years.

He works to heal them holistically.

Prayer, medicine, food. These are just some of the ways that he has been able to help them.

For me, Mumbai has been a difficult place. As a foreigner in the part of town we are in, people are suspicious of me. I get warning looks when I take my camera out, and as the slum is all around us, safety is a big concern.

My iPhone has been my friend while here.

It has allowed me to shoot when my slr would have crowds surrounding me, and it has helped me to produce some beautiful images.

The days here are good. We start in the morning visiting the clinic, going around the neighborhood, and having lunch. Then it’s time for a nap, before heading out to make house visits and meet the people that John works with.

We have spent the past three evenings in the slums, visiting people in their homes, and I am amazed at the kindness every time.

It’s unbelievable to me, that 8-12 people can live in a place that is only 10×10 or smaller. Often times you will have 2-3 families in the same 8×8 room; sleeping, cleaning, and eating.

We have heard people’s testimonies, and while they may be stuck in a cycle of perpetual poverty, God is alive and rich in their hearts.

Mumbai is the dirtiest place I have ever been. Streets are covered in garbage, sewers are left uncovered by anything except a metal grate, and when it gets hot, the smell begins to permeate everything.

The roads here are terrifying. I have driven on a lot of bad roads, with crazy drivers, but I am not sure you could pay me to drive here. There is no sense of order, no one really obeys the few traffic lights that there are, and with 26 million people in Mumbai, not only do you have to dodge rickshas, motorcycles, and terrible drivers, but people, cows, and dogs. I read recently that Mumbai is like a fish bowl overflowing with minnows. It looks like total chaos, but the minnows rarely hit each other. That describes this dance pretty well. It’s like imagining a mosh pit where people do everything but hit each other. They run full force and then slide by at the last moment. It’s intimidating, and as a result, from 5am-midnight, horns are the predominant ambient sound.

Monday we fly down south to Kerala to meet our friends at Influence International. We are so excited to see the work that God is doing through them. Between their seminary school, and children’s homes, lives are being changed, and families made whole.

Until next time, enjoy some photos, ending with one from the last time I was here, 20 years ago.

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I’d also like to welcome my wife kelly to the blog. as she is an important part of my life and business, she will be helping me to stay on track, update the blog more frequently, and while we travel, share her take on what we see.


Hi Kelly here.

I count this a rare opportunity to see a country not as a tourist but as a member of a family. Dr. John Abraham and his wife Ammini have gladly received us into their home and life. I have been told that the people of India are a very private people. But we would never know that. We have been welcomed into many very humble homes and given a glass of juice (which is considered by those who have little to be a very special treat). People are willing to answer the questions we have about their lifestyle, their way of making money, their woes. They do this because, in their eyes, we are not foreigners, but children of John and Ammini.

This is a singular and uncommon opportunity provided to us. We are blessed.



you bolt upright
from a quiet sleep

sets in



Your mind wont shut down.

if just for a moment


"Sleepless" Dan Speicher 2012

This image was created “In Camera” using multiple exposures, and a flash, to create one image without compositing multiple images together.