When soon-to-be-married couple Taylor and Matt reached out from Washington, D.C. to Seattle wedding photographer Jonas Seaman, he was beyond thrilled. "Their wedding was slated for October 2016, only weeks before the presidential election," Seaman explains. "The timing of their wedding felt intentional. They both work in the Capitol building. They met as staffers for members of Congress. They are both political junkies, and both are clearly driven by their struggle to make a positive impact on history through their work."
For photographers, having a sense of history, Seaman adds, is crucial. "It’s our job. But, as a wedding photographer, I’m never truly on the front lines. I’m not recording the tectonic shifts of world events, as much as I’m involved in the monumental, but very personal moments of just a few people. The images I make will only be meaningful to a small group of individuals and families. I think what intrigued me most about Taylor and Matt’s wedding was that it not only dealt with this type of personal micro-history, but due to the players and timing of it all, it became a part of another story as well. As their day approached, it grew clear that the wedding of these two Capitol Hill staffers would take place during one of the most divisive elections in recent U.S. history."
While the venues were in Virginia, the photographer and his wife, Mary, flew into D.C. a couple of days early. "Taylor and Matt arranged for us to get a private tour of the Capitol Building, which was amazing," Seaman says. "It also gave us a chance to add a little extra coverage to their collection. I wanted to give them images of not only their wedding day in Virginia but also the D.C. neighborhood where they spend most of their time working. I never know where people will be 30 or 40 years from now, so I always want to give something that helps them remember the specifics of this moment in their lives. I know for myself, images of the places I was once intimately familiar with begin to hold so much more meaning to me as time goes on. I always want a couple's collection to resonate with them in this way and to reach out to them from their past."
Even in her initial communications with Seaman, the bride expressed how she wanted her photographer to capture this sense of time and place. She wrote Seaman: We chose our venue [The Rosemont Manor] because it used to be owned by Senator Harry Byrd. It has a very fascinating history. All the rooms are named after the different Presidents who stayed at the manor, or other notable people who stayed there like Albert Einstein. Everything about the venue is classic and beautiful. I really want my photographer to capture the natural beauty of the architecture of the venue, the history of it and the surrounding area.
The only challenge of the day, photography-wise, had to do with the ceremony itself. "They had a traditional ceremony in a beautiful Catholic church near the Rosemont," Seaman says. "As is often the case with church weddings, there were restrictions on photography—we could only shoot from the side, and once in position, we couldn't move from our spot until the ceremony was over. These restrictions are always a challenge, but I also feel as photographers, we are guests. It’s important to respect the rules of the house. Also, for more traditional weddings, the solemnity and sacredness of the ceremony is what is most important. For less traditional weddings, I usually get in close with a 35mm, but for this one, I shot from the wings with a 135mm. Meanwhile, Mary was on the other side of the aisle getting an alternate view with her 50mm."
All in all, Seaman says the day went off without a hitch. "The storm that threatened from the night before ended early with a rainbow," he adds. "The light and locations we were given were gorgeous. The family and guests were some of the most gracious people we’ve ever met. And Taylor and Matt’s obvious love for each other was palpable."
GEAR FOR THE DAY
Cameras: Canon 5D Mark IIIs
Lens: Canon 24mm f/1.4L, 35mm f/1.4L, 45mm Tilt-Shift, 135mm f/2L (Mary was shooting with a 50mm f/1.2L)
Facebook: Jonas Seaman | Photographer