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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In photography, lighting is the most important aspect of your work. As a Pittsburgh wedding photographer you have to be able to work with lights because the weather here isnt always cooperative. Some days you wake up, the sky is blue, and it looks like its going to be an amazing day. But by the time the reception rolls around, the light is gone, clouds moved in, the wind is blowing, and rain is pouring down. In those situations we still have a duty to our clients to create beautiful work. So we always bring a supply of portable lights and modifiers with us, and they live in our car. If a flash breaks, no problem got a back up. Pocket wizard wont fire, pull out the chord. Both flashes die, or get stolen, we have some work lights that create beautiful light when pushed through an umbrella. While the situation may not be ideal, it is our job to give our clients our best work. I heard recently that we dont get an A for showing up and being friendly. Clients expect us to be professional, polite, and make great memorable images of their day.

As a story centered wedding photographer, that makes the need for lights a little bit less, but during portrait time, and during the reception, we have to make the venue, the people, and the couple look incredible. The images have to be able to bring back memories years down the road. More importantly, they need to tell the story of the day, after everyone that attended has passed away. Wedding photography is about a legacy. It is about documenting a story for the future. Its about Grandma and Grandpa being able to look fondly back on the photos and tell the grand kids about the life they lived together.

Today I shot a few portraits of my wife, just to brush up on my lighting skill. I dont use lights often, I prefer nice beautiful natural light. But sometimes a flash is the only available light that we have.

Off camera lighting- creating portraits as a pittsburgh wedding photographer

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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 cold fades

flowers bloom.

Out of dormant winter

comes life renewed.

I just celebrated my 30th year on this earth. I am incredibly grateful for the past year and all that is has brought with it.

I married my best friend, moved into a new part of pittsburgh, built my first Farm Table, and visited India with said best friend.

I have filmed some great stories over the past year, been a part of incredible weddings and festivities, and I am so excited for what 2013 has in store for us.

I love being a photographer, and I cant wait to listen to, and watch, more stories unfold.