“Life has loveliness to sell. Buy it; never count the cost.” – Sara Teasdale


You might think that the very first wedding I ever photographed was what inspired me to become a wedding photographer. You might think that I left that first-ever wedding with a spring in my step and a song in my heart.

You would be wrong.

At the end of the first wedding I ever photographed, I called my best friend and said something along the lines of, “F*ck this sh*t.”

(Not to put too fine a point on it or anything.)

See, weddings didn’t come naturally to me. They were an uncomfortable mingling of awkward family photos and erratic emotions. They demanded that I be everything at once: efficient, artistic, sensitive, focused, connected, unaffected, conscientious, and highly organized – to name a few. And, at 19, I was lucky to nail just one of those on any given day.

I didn’t feel wedding photography for another couple of years, when, at 21, a coworker asked if I would take pictures at her tiny backyard wedding. My only camera was an all-manual Mamiya 645, a medium format clunker not at all well-suited to documentary image-making. But I didn’t know any better, so off I trotted with a $350 check and 10 rolls of 120 film, eager to make a series of moving, Cartier-Bresson-esque photographs.

And it was at this itty-bitty, 50-guest, cake-and-Dixie-cups celebration that I found my heart.


It wasn’t the wedding. It was the people, and the tiny, barely perceptible moments. It was the light and the shadow and the laughter. It was the unexpectedness of everything, with no planner to keep a schedule and no band to announce the next event.

This little wedding set me on my path for the next wedding, and the next, and the next one after that.

Over the years that followed, I grew a casual Craigslist endeavor into a full-fledged business, shooting weddings for $500, then $1500, then $5000. Every year my income doubled, my client list grew, and my responsibilities weighed more heavily on my shoulders.

And before I knew it, I was back to where I had started, shooting frantic events in policy-smothered churches and questionably desegregated Southern country clubs. I was fending off handsy groomsmen and evading moody mothers. When a bride screamed – yes, screamed – at her maid of honor for wearing the wrong earrings, I knew something had to change.

Because once again I was on the phone, telling whoever would listen, “F*ck this sh*t.”

My motivation had never been the weddings themselves, the pomp and circumstance, the glitter and glamour. It had been the life and the celebration. It had been the people.

Where were those people, the couples who had drawn me into the bizarre world of wedding photography in the first place? Where were the lovers and the dreamers? Where were the simple couples in complicated love, focused less on holding bouquets and more on holding hands?

I blame the industry, in part. I really do. It’s hard to define, but there is a culture that permeates the world of weddings, perpetuated by media and money and – yes – even myself. Because how can a couple survive without a minimum of 8 hours of photographic coverage? How can two people expect to be happy if they don’t hire a team of at least 2 photographers? How can anyone find fulfillment with anything less than a handcrafted wedding album, imported from the other side of the globe?

I bought it for a long time, the lie that any one thing made a wedding what it was.

And I sold it.


“Friends marry Friends,” I read in a novel describing the Quaker wedding ceremony.

Quaker tradition holds that marriage is between two people, and those two people alone. It is not religious, but it is sacred. It is not a legal construct, but it is binding. There is no officiant. There are only the two Friends, becoming one family, surrounded by their loved ones.

This revelation nudged at the part of my soul that had loved weddings. It pricked at that callous in my heart that had grown tired of the tradition, weary of the ritual. It reminded me why I do what I do.

Not for album sales or print purchases. Not for newspapers or magazines or blogs.

I photograph weddings because a friend is marrying a friend, and such a milestone deserves to be documented. I photograph weddings because “sometimes the best historian is the artist.” I photograph weddings because there is life in celebration, there is purpose in community, there is fulfillment in every moment of loveliness we wring from this world.

While I’d been pouring my energies into sales pitches and marketing endeavors, I’d lost my heart for the beauty of this work. I’d forfeited my wonder at the mystery and the madness.

And I’d disconnected from couples who shared my values, and settled for couples as lost as I was – caught up in the posturing and the obligation and the process.

Perhaps, for some, that’s all a wedding is. Perhaps there are couples whose perfected, directed, impeccable wedding days will bring them joy for decades. We all have our truths to uncover, and who’s to say that I’m right and they’re wrong?

But I know what I believe. And I know what brings me joy. And I know that I’m not alone.

So I’m re-centering and letting go of the industry standards. I’m slowing down, and sifting through the crowd for the couples who are meant only for me. I’m closing my eyes to the trends and blocking my ears to the sales pitches. I’m returning to the love stories, the life stories, the families grown and growing.


After a months-long, soul-searching hiatus, I shot my first wedding of the fall in the mountains of north Georgia, an intimate affair with incessant laughter and flowing wine and homemade cakes and love… so much love. And when it was over, I picked up my phone.

And I told my best friend, “It was perfect.”

I know that not every wedding can be that wedding. But that’s okay, because not every wedding is for me. I’m committed to holding out for the perfect fit. I’m dedicated once again to the craft, the connection, the kindred spirits.

It’s what brought me here in the first place. It’s the good that keeps me coming back for more.

Anne Simone

Anne is a lifelong photographer and accidental writer from Atlanta, Georgia. She prefers whiskey over wine, cheese over chocolate, and flat shoes over heels — because you never know when you might need to run for your life.

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  1. Todor

    This really moved me. It made me want to shoot a wedding with my old Bronica and a few rolls of 120 film.

    • Anne Almasy

      Sometimes I miss the simplicity of film – no retouching, no Photoshop, no Lightroom, no color correcting – not from me, anyway! Of course, now every expects their film to be scanned. It’s not like the “good ol’ day” when I handed you your prints and called it a day! 😉

  2. Jim Robertson

    Lovely, well written article, Anne. I would love to photograph weddings if I could always find the one, fun, intimate, “perfect fit”. So I’ve settled on your “F*ck this sh*t” approach before getting started. Don’t know if that’s right or wrong but it’s what’s happening. Congrats on finding your wedding sweet spot!

    • Anne Almasy

      Hey – it’s not always sunshine and rainbows. But I feel so much happier having decided to prioritize my own fulfillment. 🙂

  3. Andy

    Lovely piece. I am starting to dip my toes into the wedding photography waters (I have shot and/or assisted in the past) this season in the form of assisting established pros and I am looking forward to putting my candid spin on things in the coming years.

    Let me know if you would ever be open to me second shooting one of your small ceremonies.

    • Anne Almasy

      Andy, I know we’ve chatted online before… but if you’ll shoot me a message, maybe we can connect when I’m in DC in a few weeks!

      • Jim Robertson

        Ditto, Anne, if you ever have a shoot in KY. Would love to learn from you. We got bourbon!

        • Anne Almasy

          You had me at “bourbon”… 😉

  4. John Channing

    Fabulous honesty, cutting through the crap that permeates the wedding industry – well done.

    • Anne Almasy

      Gotta hand it to Zack… he’s compiled a lot of like-minded creatives. 😉

  5. Trent

    I had a different start, but ditto on pretty much everything else. Thanks Anne!

    My favorite weddings nowadays are involving just 3 people: the bride, the groom, and their photographer.

  6. Barra Freed

    Good post the word of your description sounds simply so sweet. Nice post it was.

  7. Daf

    I’m not a full timer – but I do shoot the occasional wedding.
    But as yet – I’ve only shot weddings for friends.
    I still charge – but about half of what a pro would likely charge. I have been asked several time to shoot other weddings but have turned them down. Some have tried strongly to convince me to double my rate to shoot these. But as yet I’ve held out.
    Your post makes me glad that I’ve done this. Thanks.

    • Anne Almasy

      You know, you have to do what suits your soul. I’ve gotten so much flack by colleagues for not doing things the “right way.” But I’m the one who has to go to sleep at night with whatever decisions I made during the day. If something doesn’t feel right, I don’t do it. Kudos to you for following your gut!

  8. jarWoodson

    My first official legit wedding gig is in September after being in ninja mode for the past year. I always make a point to check with the pro folks first, and hope I can learn something/anything in the process. This here has shown me my heart is in the right place. Thank you so much!!!


  9. David Taranza

    your articles are so strongly resonating with my soul every time and it is no different today. I again found myself wiping a tear during the read. Huge respect for following your gut when considering the business side of things. You are so brave. You are so inspiring. Every. Single. Time.

    • Anne Almasy

      Can I just tell you how brave I DON’T feel? So. Thank you. 🙂 I’m honored. For real.

  10. Luke

    This is an excellent post. I’m in it right now, the “F*ck this sh*t” state of mind, and this has helped a little. Thank you.

  11. Robin M

    Thanks for reminding us that weddings should be about the people and not the marketing, slick photo retouching, gimmicks and other commercial crap! I was just dipping into wedding photography when an injury waylaid me. No longer able to stand for those “8-12 hours” of coverage, I would love to find couples who want something small, intimate, funky and quick! Your article is inspiring me to pursue it further.

  12. Roy Clarke

    I am not, nor have ever been a wedding photographer but I am glad I stumbled across your well written article which I enjoyed. It somehow speaks to my yearning to rekindle my passion for capturing moments of emotion, light or “connection” rather than taking pictures, however technically correct or aesthetically beautiful they may be.

  13. MR

    yeah right
    Sorry I call bullshit

  14. Kyle

    This stands head and shoulders above so much of what passes for “content” on photographic sites today. Not just the underlying point, but the wit, warmth, and intelligence with which you expressed it… This is a talisman to ward off 4,000 “exciting new gear” reviews.

  15. Andrew Hoffman

    I could read realizations like these all day. Good reminder that we all need to take a minute while we climbing the ladder to make sure we’re even on the right ladder or it’s going where we want it go. Thanks for the vulnerability to write and acknowledge such things.

    “Where were those people, the couples who had drawn me into the bizarre world of wedding photography in the first place? Where were the lovers and the dreamers? Where were the simple couples in complicated love, focused less on holding bouquets and more on holding hands?”

  16. Benedikt K.

    Dear Anne,
    thank you for that one.
    I had the luck to be part of such a perfect wedding you described, a ceremony with caring about the connection, about the people. It made a big difference!
    Good luck with your next weddings/ jobs!

  17. Simone Berna

    Go, Anne! I really like your words! 🙂

  18. Liz G.

    Great piece. I just shot a wedding reception recently. The bride had Quaker roots, so they had a very private ceremony in the morning and then the evening reception was focused on family and friends. Everything was about the love and joy surrounding the occasion, and I absolutely loved documenting it. I wondered if some wedding photographers focused on more private, intimate events, and was so glad to find this post!