I arrived about half an hour early to a mostly empty venue. The Anchor Inn, owned and operated by Catering by Uptown, was serene, awaiting the day’s festivities. Greg was already in the parking lot, scoping out the setting. A few minutes later, Felipe joined us. Our trio hadn’t all worked together at the same time in some months, so we spent a few minutes catching up. We then wandered into the venue to look around and see what might have changed since our last visit.
Our coverage this day would be organized in a somewhat unusual way. Due to some last-minute scheduling conflicts, Felipe wouldn’t be able to stay in the second shooter seat through the entire event, so Greg was brought in to take over when Felipe would have to leave. Greg would be with us the whole day, helping with lights and getting a sense of the event’s vibe before taking over during the reception.
Preparations & First Look
Once things got started, we spent about the first 45 minutes covering the behind-the-scenes preparation activities in the Anchor Inn’s bridal suite. Stephanie and her bridesmaids arrived mostly ready to go, and already dolled up by the artists at Jackie’s Designs. Felipe and I traded back and forth, taking photos of Stephanie and her bridesmaids in the bridal suite, and capturing the anxious anticipation of Nate and his groomsmen in the main room.
In the midst of preparation activities, we found time to capture images of various details — most notably, the rings, shoes, flowers, and signage. The cake table was already set up and it featured a very cute little diorama of a dog taking a bite, which we used to stage a great macro shot of the rings.
We concluded preparations with a first look in the main room. The room was full of bright light from the almost panoramic view, and the venue’s tall steeple-shaped windows at the far end. Just before Stephanie walked out to meet Nate, the groomsmen stopped her to fan out her dress. It made for a great photo opportunity and the whole thing was a very sweet moment.
After the first look, we moved quickly into formals. The Anchor Inn can be a tricky place for formals in the mid-afternoon, especially on a bright and sunny day like this one. There’s very little shade to counteract the shadows cast by overhead sunlight and most of the best spots for portraits, in general, are out on the water.
We addressed this challenge using a strobe, which Greg artfully managed. This technique kept the background from getting blown out. Felipe first took the guys out onto the water, doing the best he could with the bright natural light. Meanwhile, I stayed closer to the venue with the women among the venue’s tall ornamental grass found in one of the few small patches of shade.
After a few minutes, we swapped. I brought the guys into the shady area, and the women went out onto the pier with Felipe. The results were a nice mix of organic-looking portraits in natural light and more formal-looking portraits in mixed light. Each set of photos contrasted the subtle distinctions between mine and Felipe’s shooting styles.
We finished up with our pre-ceremony portraits with a quick shot of the whole group, using the venue’s iconic waterfront edifice as the backdrop.
About 15 minutes before the ceremony started, the wedding parties tucked themselves away inside. Guests arrived and took their seats. The ceremony took place on the covered deck outside the venue’s reception hall, with guests facing out toward the water and the afternoon sun streaming in from the west. This arrangement is a typical for the Anchor Inn for a good reason: it works.
Felipe situated himself at the front with a wide lens. I stayed at the periphery using a long lens. This is a setup we prefer because it creates great aesthetic variety in the final images and a more robust sense of the story — not to mention it helps us stay out of each other’s way and reduce redundancy. During the processional, the lattice backing on the venue’s deck cast a really pretty speckled shadow on the wedding’s participants.
The ceremony was officiated by Nate & Stephanie’s pastor. He did a good job reflecting the couple’s reverence for the occasion. He also added personal touches that hinted at the real-life nature of their friendship with him. A very cute ring bearer tepidly carried rings up the aisle, and then Stephanie walked herself to the front of the congregation.
The ceremony concluded with a traditional exchange of rings. I captured a black and white first kiss photo that I’m especially fond of in this event’s images.
Following the ceremony, we spent some time on family portraits. We captured these on the deck where the ceremony took place. To avoid direct sunlight casting shadows across people’s faces, we reoriented ourselves to face west with the sun at everyone’s back.
When family portraits were finished, we went out onto the pier to capture some images of the full wedding party together. One particularly striking photo was captured in portrait orientation from across the pier. The party’s reflections were at the bottom, and boats fell out of focus in the background.
We finished portraits for the day with some sunset images of Nate & Stephanie at various spots along the pier. We used the strobe for many of these images until the sun dipped behind the horizon. Then we captured some purely natural light images, notably a silhouette against a bright orange and purple sky.
One of my favorite shots from the couple’s portrait featured Nate gently dipping Stephanie at the end of the pier. The water was catching the color of the sky, creating an almost magical backdrop.
At this point, it was time for Felipe to leave. Greg took over as the reception got started. He captured the end of the cocktail hour and smoothly transitioned into the main reception activities at the same time I did.
The reception started with traditional introductions, a first dance between the bride and groom, and then straight into toasts, and dinner from Catering by Uptown. Very nice toasts were shared by Nate’s brother and Stephanie’s sister. These inspired more than a few knowing glances between the bride and groom.
After dinner, the dance floor opened with concurrent dances shared by Nate and his mom, and Stephanie and her dad. The evening continued with energetic dancing, carried along by the skilled work of the DJ from Mixing Maryland.
When it came time to cut the cake, Nate & Stephanie respectfully shared the moment. No smashing cakes in each other’s faces at this one. The evening concluded with a final dance, and guests satisfied and happy to have spent the day together.
Greg and I grabbed a piece of cake on the way out the door. We remarked to each other what an incredibly kind and friendly group of people this was to spend an evening with. And the cake, it was delicious.