WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY BY MICHAEL ONEILL FINE ART
I entered the world of professional photography in the wedding photography and enjoyed the reputation as one of the most influential wedding photographers in the world. Though my professional photography career had taken me into the areas of corporate public relations photography, studio product and still life imaging for advertising and point-of-purchase displays, corporate annual report photography, editorial and advertising fashion assignments, plus my personal works consisting mainly of landscapes and other environmental images; wedding photography had always been my main area of focus (pun intended). I had the privilege of studying with some of the most legendary photographers who ever walked this planet: Dean Collins, Don Blair and Monte Zucker to mention just a few.
I was a wedding photographer long before it became “fashionable" to be one. Back in the 1980's wedding photographers were looked down upon by the rest of the photographic community. It was considered an inferior photographic pursuit by the more glamorous and recognizable fashion, corporate, advertising and celebrity photographers. Then a funny thing happened. The economy took a downturn and advertisers tightened up the purse strings in their advertising budgets. No more lavish destination fashion assignments in exotic locations. No more big dollar studio photography productions. No more editorial assignments with generous budgets. Guess what all the financially strapped “superior" photographers turned to? That's right. Wedding photography. The first large influx of newcomers into a craft that I was passionate about for the art form it is...not just for the financial rewards it provided.
Fast forward to the turn of the century. I was one of the pioneers in using digital cameras for wedding photography. I retired my film cameras in 2001 and had never looked back. I saw the potential for digital photography earlier than most of my colleagues did...probably because I had been exploring digital manipulation of my film images long before an acceptable digital camera hit the market. Technology has changed everything in the world of photographic imaging. Today's cameras are so technologically advanced that even someone with a minimum of knowledge can capture an acceptable image. Information is everywhere (for those who are dedicated enough to seek it out). Any aspect of photography one wants to learn about will be covered in depth, though not necessarily expertly, in some YouTube video or online training program. It seems as if everyone with a digital camera, a laptop and a homemade web site is calling themselves a wedding photographer these days. While some of my constituents complain about this influx of “newbies" into the wedding photography market, I embraced it. Their presence made my work stand out even more dramatically from the unacceptable, the ordinary and the so-so that is, unfortunately, becoming the norm these days.
If you were looking for an exceptional photographer...one who created exquisite, extraordinary, elegant, timeless wedding images; one who would work personally with you from your very first consultation to the final delivery of your finished masterpiece wedding albums, then I was on the short list of photographers to interview and consider. You met with ME when you come to my studio to discuss your plans and wishes for the big day. It was ME who took your engagement session photos prior to the wedding day. It was ME (and my skilled photographic lighting assistant) that was your photographer on your wedding day and I would personally handle the editing, retouching and enhancement of all your wedding photos; as well as the artistic design of your finished wedding albums. I truly believed that not only the actual photography, but also the preparation, retouching and design stages of your wedding are all a part of the creative service you were commissioning me for. The old school model of a large wedding and portrait photography studio with numerous photographers and professional sales people is dead. The new paradigm for contemporary wedding photography is based around truly personal service. We are, after all, charged with the responsibility of working hand in hand with you to create a truly unique personal product and experience. This can not be accomplished by working with a large firm who's employees are charged with tasks based upon expertise and efficiency rather than creativity and service.
So what were some of the things you looked for when choosing the photographer for your wedding day?
First: Experience. In today's age of internet-based business models it is easy for someone to portray a professional-looking “established" business when, in fact, they have little or no experience in handling the responsibilities that go along with photographing the most important day of your life. There are countless examples of “faux-tographers" who have engaged in the illegal and deceptive practice of stealing images from other photographers web sites and claiming them as their own. When you came to visit me for your initial wedding consultation I educated you further on this disturbing practice and showed you how to protect yourself from falling victim to this scam.
I personally photographed in excess of 2,000 wedding celebrations in my lengthy career. On Long Island, New York alone I had created photographs in Albertson, Amagansett, Amityville, Aquebogue, Asharoken, Atlantic Beach, Babylon, Baiting Hollow, Baldwin, Bay Shore, Bayport, Bayville, Bellerose, Bellmore,Bellport, Belle Terre, Bethpage, Blue Point, Bohemia, Brentwood, Bridgehampton, Brightwaters, Brookhaven, Brookville, Calverton, Carle Place, Cedarhurst, Center Moriches, Centereach, CenterportCenterport, Central Islip, Centre Island, Cherry Grove, Cold Spring Harbor, Commack, Copiague, Coram, Cove Neck, Cutchogue, Davis Park, Deer Park, Dix Hills, East Hampton, East Hills, East Meadow, East Norwich, East Rockaway, East Islip, East Marion, East Moriches, East Northport, East Setauket, East Williston, Eastport, Eatons Neck, Elwood, Elmont, Farmingdale, Farmingville, Fire Island, Flanders, Floral Park, Fort Salonga, Franklin Square, Freeport, Garden City, Gilgo Beach, Glen Cove, Glen Head, Glenwood Landing, Great Neck, Great River, Greenvale, Greenlawn, Greenport, Halesite, The Hamptons, Hampton Bays, Hauupauge, Head of the Harbor, Hempstead, Hewlett, Hicksville, Holbrook, Holtsville, Huntington, Huntington Bay, Huntington Station, Inwood, Islandia, Island Park, Islip, Islip Terrace, Jamesport, Jericho, Kings Park, Kings Point, Kismet, Lake Grove, Lake Ronkonkoma, Lake Success, Laurel Hollow, Lattington, Laurel, Lawrence, Levittown, Lido Beach, Lindenhurst, Locust Valley, Long Beach, Lloyd Harbor, Lynbrook, Malverne, Manhasset, Manorhaven, Massapequa, Massapequa Park, Mastic, Mastic Beach, Matinecock, Mattituck, Medford, Melville, Merrick, Middle Island, Mill Neck, Miller Place, Mineola, Montauk, Moriches, Mount Sinai, Muttontown, Nesconset, New Cassel, New Hyde Park, New Suffolk, Nissequogue, North Babylon, North Haven, North Hills, Northampton, Northport, Oak Beach, Oakdale, Ocean Beach, Oceanside, Old Bethpage, Old Brookville, Old Field, Old Westbury, Orient, Oyster Bay, Oyster Bay Cove, Patchogue, Peconic, Plainview, Plainedge, Plandome, Point Lookout, Poquott, Port Jefferson, Port Jeff Station, Port Washington, Quogue, Remsenburg, Ridge, Riverhead, Rockville Centre, Rocky Point, Roosevelt, Roslyn, Roslyn Harbor, Saint James, Sag Harbor, Sagaponack, Saltaire, Sands Point, San Remo, Sayville, Sea Cliff, Seaford, Searingtown, Selden, Setauket, Shelter Island, Shirley, Shoreham, Smithtown, Sound Beach, Southampton, Southhold, Speonk, Stewart Manor, Stony Brook, Syosset, Terryville, Uniondale, Valley Stream, Wading River, Wainscott, Wantagh, Water Mill, West Babylon, West Hills, West Hempstead, West Islip, Westbury, Westhampton, Westhampton Beach, Wheatley Heights, Williston Park, Woodbury, Woodmere, Wyandanch and Yaphank. In addition to these Long Island locales I had photographed extensively in the five boroughs of New York (Queens County, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Staten Island and Manhattan NYC). I had photographed numerous weddings in Westchester County, upstate New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. I was available for destination weddings countrywide and worldwide having travelled to California, Nevada, Virginia, Maryland and Florida in the United States as well as Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Elsewhere on this site you will find a list of some of the many venues I had visited as a wedding photographer. I've pretty much experienced them all in my tenure as a wedding photographer but always loved visiting a new venue for the first time. It was creatively inspiring to visit new venues and seek out fresh locations and photo opportunities.
In addition to the numerous places that photographers have visited you should take into account their experience with different weather and environmental conditions. I had photographed weddings in every conceivable weather from warm summer days and nights with fair skies and gentle breezes to the most horrendous inclement weather with torrential rainfall, high winds and even a few blizzard condition snowfalls. Not only should your photographer have the expertise to handle anything that Mother Nature may throw your way, but also the means to get there on time and unaffected. My aggressive four wheel drive vehicle had gotten me to events where even the professional transportation vendors (limousines and buses) and a good deal of the wedding guests could not handle the challenges of bad weather on the wedding day.
If you were planning a same sex wedding special consideration must be given to the photographer's experience. They must be sensitive to special needs, emotions and certain family dynamics. I had been photographing same sex unions since before they became legally recognized in New York State. I have examples of same sex wedding and commitment celebrations and welcomed the opportunity to work with same sex couples on their big day.
Secondly, when choosing your wedding photography professional, you should consider their stability and reputation. I photographed my first weddings in 1978 as a part time photographer working freelance for a number of large photography studios. In 1984 I left a lucrative job in corporate America to open my first studio on Larkfield Road in East Northport, NY. Some 30+ years later my studio was still located on this main commercial and retail Long Island thoroughfare. Now that's stability! That's longevity. The studio I maintained was located in a beautiful upscale professional building with lovely architecture. You entered into a warm, inviting reception area before I showed you to a relaxed, casual consultation room where you viewed numerous samples of my fine art portrait and contemporary wedding album designs. I'd show you my digital production area with it's state-of-the-art Apple/Mac computer workstation (which is connected to the other Macs on my network). This is where I worked my digital editing, retouching and enhancement magic to make sure your wedding pictures looked their absolute best. I had another room devoted solely to production and the custom picture framing services that I offered. I had a full camera room where I created some of the dynamic conceptual portraits that I was known for. All the rooms in my facility were connected by a gallery showcasing my body of personalfine art editions. There were also private dressing and lavatory facilities along with a small kitchenette that came in handy when hosting clients for gallery viewings and commercial portrait productions. Consider this when choosing your wedding photographer. Sure, the added overhead of a beautiful, modern studio must be reflected in the photographer's fees, but it represents a true commitment to their business and clientele. Think twice about any photographer who's total commitment to their business is summed up by a web site and showing you their portfolio on an iPad at Starbucks!
In addition to a photographer's stability you must also consider their reputation. Mine was evidenced and documented everywhere. I am a “Best of Weddings" recipient from The Knot and a quick search on any of the major wedding portals will yield raves from all of my past wedding customers. I am not going to be redundant here. Elsewhere on this site you will find pages documenting my professional accolades and accomplishments as well as testimonials from my past wedding clients. I encourage you to peruse them. My clients said they were a big part of their consideration of who they entrusted with capturing their memories on the biggest day of their lives. My reputation was further evidenced by the endorsements I had from some of the most prominent caterers in the Long Island marketplace. I enjoyed being a recommended vendor at all of the Lombardi family catering halls (Villa Lombardi's,Lombardi's on the Sound and Lombardi's on the Bay) as well as The Royalton Mansion at Roslyn Country Club in Roslyn Heights, NY, Carlyle on the Green at Bethpage State Park, The Hyatt Regency Long Island at The Wind Watch Golf Club in Hauppauge, NY, The Hamlet Golf and Country Club in Commack, NY, The Venetian Yacht Club located on the Great South Bay waterfront in Babylon, New York, Carlyle at The Palace in Plainview, NY and Crestwood Manor in the affluent Fort Salonga area of Northport, NY on the north shore of Long Island.
When choosing your wedding photographer you must consider their professionalism and creativity. If this visit to my web site is your first experience with my products and services I encourage you to visit the “Info" pages of this site to view some of my more noteworthy professional awards and accolades. If you've gotten this deep into this site I trust that you have already checked out the extensive wedding gallery of some of my favorite images and found them to be attractive.
Finally, when choosing your wedding photographer, consider their personality. You're going to spend more time with your photographer on your wedding day than any other vendor. You'll spend some time with your make up artist and hair stylist. Perhaps you'll spend some time with a limousine driver. You'll spend some time with your clergy or wedding celebrant and you'll spend a few hours with your caterer and entertainment. Your photographer will be with you from the time you're getting ready on the big day and still be with you at the end of the day when you're cutting your wedding cake, dancing with your parents and so forth. Then you'll be married for a couple of months after the wedding when they deliver your previews to you and work with you on the design of your finished wedding albums. A photographer could show you fantastic work and offer an attractive price, but if you don't enjoy their personality it will ruin your wedding day. Choose wisely. Meet your photographer before you sign a contract. Discuss with them, at length, your plans for the big day and how they can best serve you, your friends and your family at your wedding and for years to follow.