Emily Sterne Photography in Boston


Emily Sterne Photography in Boston | A Practical Wedding

One of the best parts of having written APW for almost four years (you guys! It will be APW’s four-year-old birthday in two weeks, and to think I almost forgot about that!) has been watching the creative businesses of sponsors grow and thrive over the years. Emily Sterne Photography in Boston found APW really early. She was getting married and reading the site (you can check out her amazing wedding-graduate-in-the-pouring-rain post here), and then, years and years ago she joined us as an advertiser. It’s been amazing getting to watch her build a business by working with all of you, and to see her images and artistic work blossom in startlingly lovely ways (like the first picture in the post, which has got to be one of the more emotional images I’ve seen this year).

Emily Sterne Photography in Boston | A Practical Wedding

But what Emily Sterne Photography has always really really gotten about you guys is The Joy. She understands why you get married, and she sets out to document you just as you are. This seems obvious, a photographer wanting to document you as you are on your wedding day, but it’s rarer than you would think. So many photographers are focused on taking pretty images: images that will get published on blogs, images of you looking all model-y by a couch in a field. And I am very serious about the fact that if you’re going to hire a professional photographer to document your wedding day, you want someone who will capture you at your most raw and your most present. You want someone that will catch you looking joyful, overwhelmed, snotty and teary, and grinning your face off. You want someone to capture the essential humanness and truthfulness, which is such a serious talent set for an artist (and honestly why I think some photographers would rather focus on photographing you posing with props in the middle of nowhere… it’s easier). And that’s what Emily does. That’s her gig.

Emily Sterne Photography in Boston | A Practical Wedding

So, I wanted to let Emily talk a bit about why she does what she does because it helped me make sense out of A) Why her photos are so good, and B) Why I have such a problem with half the wedding photography trends out there. Oh! And! To top it all off, she’s offering you a free engagement session. BAM! Here is Emily:

Emily Sterne Photography in Boston | A Practical Wedding

I’d like to offer to include an engagement session at no extra cost to APW couples who book 2012 dates as a result of this post. The reason I’d like to offer this as a special bonus to APW readers is that the most valuable thing about the engagement session (to me) is getting to know the client—and it has been my experience that APW clients are not only enjoyable and rewarding to get to know, but more importantly, I find that I can do a better job photographing their weddings when I know them (even a little).

Emily Sterne Photography in Boston | A Practical Wedding

I have found that a practical wedding (sometimes) means a wedding that does not necessarily sparkle with the tangible glitz and glamour that would make creating visually beautiful, archetypally blog—and magazine—splashy images a breeze. They are not always set atop a pristine cliff at the precise moment that the sun’s rays gently kiss a professionally made-up cheek. Sometimes they are in church basements because the main sanctuary is under construction, but it’s your congregation so you get married there anyway. Sometimes they might feature no flowers, or really any decor to speak of, and take place in a black box of a music hall, because the couple is having a rock and roll party and actually doesn’t give a rat’s *ss about flowers. I think lots of photographers could walk into a decked-out room or sunset cliff situation and make stunning imagery. When you don’t have those kinds of visuals to work with, but you feel a connection to the people in that basement or black box—then there is still the possibility to create even better pictures—the kind that can show those people who they were on that day, and how they were feeling.

Emily Sterne Photography in Boston | A Practical Wedding

So back to that engagement session—I want to think about it as a chance to get to know each other. By doing it via a photo session, couples get some Nice Pictures to use for a Save the Date, or a Facebook page, or a refrigerator magnet.  I like to encourage people to consider doing the session in a place that has meaning for them as a couple—their home, a special place they have enjoyed spending time together, etc. Or to do an activity they love (think bowling, ice skating, gardening, spelunking). These kinds of pictures, to me anyway, have a higher “interestingness” factor than the perfect Public Garden background. (Boston reference, sorry to the non-East Coasters.)

Emily Sterne Photography in Boston | A Practical Wedding

I continue to push, in my small way, against the idea that wedding photography should result in fashion photographs. My recent copy of PPA magazine had an article about how to get images from a “low budget” wedding published. I was intrigued and excited, until I realized that much of the angle of the article was how to basically stage shots that would represent what the bride had “envisioned” the wedding to be like—not what it really was. Any photojournalistic-minded photographer would scoff that this, which I guess I do. It also sounds exhausting to me. I’m looking for clients who are looking for pictures of what really went down at their weddings.

Emily Sterne Photography in Boston | A Practical Wedding

And that for me, nailed it. How have we gotten to the point where the wedding industry is telling photographers to take pictures of something that’s not REALLY your wedding because your wedding wasn’t good enough, or blog-worthy enough? This is nonsense. For me, the whole point of photography (if you choose to have photography at your wedding) is to capture some essential truth. Why skip the flowers and keep the photographer? Well, in theory, because you want to be able to look at your pictures and reach back to how you felt in that moment. Not how you were supposed to feel, but how you really were. And that is exactly what Emily Sterne Photography in Boston does. It’s what she’s been doing all along, as she built her business working with you, and with your help, it’s what she’ll keep right on doing.

Emily Sterne Photography in Boston | A Practical Wedding

So go for it Boston! Emily Sterne is a phenomenally talented, super professional photographer, with skills, and class, and a kick-ass philosophy. You guys are going to make music together.

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  • Lturtle

    This makes me wish I lived in Boston! And as a west coaster I have to say, anyone who has read Make Way For Ducklings knows about the Public Garden. ;)

  • ElisabethJoanne

    “I am very serious about the fact that if you’re going to hire a professional photographer to document your wedding day, you want someone who will capture you at your most raw and your most present.”

    This is an excellent description of the APW (or maybe just Meg’s) wedding photography philosophy.

    I can’t answer the “How did we get here?” question, but I bought this wedding photographers’ handbook from about 1994, and it advises the photographer to stage a grand exit, even if it the couple didn’t plan one. It was such an offensive idea to me that every album must be so alike that a photographer should stage events couples reject “because brides expect it.” On the other hand, the book assumes the photographer will be one of the last vendors hired, after the caterer and DJ. To me, it’s a fascinating interplay between “pretty photos are more important than what actually happens” and “pretty photos aren’t as important as [what other vendors sell].”

  • http://www.thesongsontheway.com Pamela

    Too bad I’m not in Boston! But I just wanted to comment to say I loved reading this. Emily, I could really tell your personality was coming across and you sound like the really down to earth and the brides who get to work with you are blessed.

  • http://fromasmallstep.blogspot.com Kinzie Kangaroo

    I really really love this photography. These is the kind of pictures I dream of taking someday. So much JOY.

  • Littleredcat

    I cannot say enough about Emily’s photography. She really captured the joy and the emotion of my wedding day and when I look at the photos she took they bring me right back to what an incredible day it was (that’s me with the red hair screaming at the horah and smooching my handsome man). Some of my favorite photos she took are of our guests when they were not aware of her and o good lord did she capture personalities. Now that I am living far away from friends and family, those pictures are really valuable to me.. She got all of my DIY details too but it’s the way she can capture “how the day went down” that makes my wedding photos special.

    • Carbon Girl

      I love your dress with the blue tulle!

  • http://dylanandsarah.com Sarah T

    Oh wow, the b&w picture with the bride and the dad. That is really something.

  • fleda

    Just want to say: Emily was our photographer. I basically hired her on the spot without interviewing anyone else. Why? When we were chatting over coffee, she actually wanted to know what my dissertation was about–and not just in a polite way. That sealed the deal for me. She was great, and so are the photos. It was such a comfort to have someone so smart, sane, and human around throughout the whole ordeal of getting married.

  • sarahdipity

    Emily was our photographer too. She was great and I love our photos. She did an amazing job even though our venue was a museum and the guests weren’t all centered in one place. Somehow she still caught photos of the little details as well as funny shots of our guests just being their crazy selves.