(Note: I got a little long-winded. So if you just want to see some cool photos, skip this text and enjoy!)
Every year, before the ground thaws, and before the grey of Winter burns away, I try and set goals for myself. Some years I focus on the business end of Eric Brushett Photography. How can I be a better marketer, better accountant, better web designer? What are my business goals? Should I raise my prices? Am I too expensive??
Other years I turn inward, and try and look at myself as an artist. Where is my photography going? What can I do better? Are my images any good?
In so many ways, 2016 was quite the year. On a personal level, I feel like I hit my stride with being a father. Corey and I managed to balance the demands of this wedding photography business with the patience and effort needed to raise a very energetic little boy. Professionally, it was my most successful year yet. I don’t measure success only in dollar signs. I measure it by weighing the effectiveness and execution of my images against the expectations of my couples.
Five years ago I said goodbye to my cubical job. It was a Wednesday afternoon in May. I clocked out for my 30 minute break, stood up from my desk, went to lunch, and never came back.
I remember calling Corey on my way to her office, “Let’s get lunch together today!” Just being able to say that phrase to her gave me a sense of freedom.
Wedding photography is hard. The hours are long, and the time spent in front of the computer screen can seem endless. But it’s also beautiful. I meet so many incredible people, and see so many incredible places. I am warmly invited into some of the most intimate moments of people’s lives, and I am tasked with the job of documenting it all with my camera.
There is nothing else I would rather be doing with my life. There is no other art form I appreciate more, and no other discipline in the world of photography like being a wedding photographer.
I am extremely proud of the images below. These are the 20 most important photos from the 2016 wedding season. I am very honored that you’ve come to this page, and I hope you enjoy this collection.
As usual, I’ve included the EXIF data with my exposure settings so you can see how the images were made. Thanks to everyone, especially my wife Corey, for such a wonderful and successful year. Cheers!
To keep with tradition, here are some numbers:
218,707 clicks of the camera | 56 weddings | 27 engagement shoots | 22,000+ miles driven | (and baby number 2 on the way!)
Here are 4 photos that just missed the Top 16, but were deserving of this post anyway.
Elizabeth and Will at the New Haven Lawn Club.
Fuji XT1 23mm f1.4 1/800th ISO 200
Here, Elizabeth stepped away for a moment to finalize her vows. As she crouched down at a table I stuck my camera in the window of the bridal suite and photographed her without entering the room. It’s a very real moment that happens at many weddings. Here is our beautiful bride, in a moment of solitude just a few minutes before she walks down the aisle. (Side note, look for Elizabeth a will again a little further down the list)
Audrey and Greg outside the Omni
Fuji XT2 18mm f4 1/400th ISO 400
While out photographing Audrey, Greg and their wedding party around the Yale University campus a group of international tourists gathered behind me and starting taking their own photos. I invited the whole group to join the wedding party for a quick photo (much to the dismay of the tour guide). It what ended up being one of the funnier, more memorable moments of my career.
Krista and Mike at the Waterview in Monroe
Nikon D75050mm f1.4 1/180th ISO 1600
If you know me as a photographer, than you know there are three things I love. Windows, reflections, and shooting wide open. This photo has all of that. I absolutely love this candid, alternative portrait of Krista laughing shortly before her ceremony. It’s not the most traditional way to capture a bridal portrait, but for me it’s so much more interesting than “look at me and smile.” Their wedding was a great time with lots of familiar faces from my hometown. (Side note: Krista and Mike’s wedding was the last day I shot with my Nikon gear. I started the transition to my mirrorless Fuji system the week after)
Kristina and Sean at the New Haven Lawn Club
Fuji XT2 23mm f1.4 1/200 ISO 2000
I waited to finish this list because I knew Kristina and Sean’s New Years Eve wedding at the Lawn Club would be awesome. The whole day from start to finish was filled with potential photos for this post. I chose this one for a few reasons. Kristina had just arrived to the venue from the hotel and was the last to leave the bus. Here’s this incredible moment that no one else but me was there to see. Everyone had gone inside to warm up, so I took three quick photos of her as she walked into the venue. If you think about it, it’s a pretty amazing moment. A bride, about to enter to her wedding venue for the first time, everyone inside waiting, minutes from the first look, and just a few hours from being married. It’s as quiet as it is powerful, and I love it.
16 | Audrey and Greg in downtown New Haven
Fuji XT1 56mm f1.4 1/300th ISO 500
The silhouetted city-dwellers in the foreground of the photo are what bring it all together for me. After setting up Audrey and Greg for a simple walking photo these three came into frame and I decided to go with it. The lotto sign on the top left adds to the realness of this photo for me. I even like that the man in the jacket is partially obstructing Greg. It’s a city, and there are people everywhere. This photo captures the essence of New Haven and it’s a great way to kick off the Top 16.
15 | Megan and Jeff at Anthony’s Ocean View
Fuji XT1 23mm f3.2 1/1400 ISO 800
Every wedding photographer knows that that sun sets pretty dramatically on the beach outside of Anthony’s. The challenge is to create something fresh and interesting out of something that’s familiar. I LOVE this portrait because it fully captures the warmth and beauty of the sunset, and it includes the couple in a creative and effective way. I am genuinely proud of this one. (Side note, it’s was my first wedding shooting with my now-beloved Fujinon 23 f1.4)
14 | Liz and Jeff engaged in downtown New Haven
Fuji XT1 23mm f1.4 1/400th ISO 200
For the second year in a row I’ve included an engagement session in my Top 16. Liz and Jeff’s photos were hard to ignore (and it was even harder not to include THIS rainy portrait from later in the day). If you know Liz and Jeff, it’s easy to see why this was the pick. This photo IS Liz and Jeff. In every way possible this captures how fun, funny and in love these two are. This is one of my absolute favorite engagement photos of the year!
13 | Christine and Chris at the Woodway Beach Club in Stamford
Fuji XT1 23mm f2.8 1/25th ISO 2000
It was dark. If you’re a photographer than you can tell by my settings above that I squeezing the last bit of light out of the wedding day for this awesome and moody portrait. The sun had long since set, but the sky had suddenly come alive with this incredible swatch of oranges and pinks. I pulled the couple out for less than 30 seconds to catch this quickly-fading scene. It was gone in an instant. I took 14 total photos, and the last 4 had little-to-no color. We hit it just right (and the flag only added to the look) and I couldn’t be more pleased.
12 | Caitlin and Mike at their backyard bash in Cheshire
Fuji XT1 56mm f1.2 1/500 ISO 400
I’ve known Mike and Caitlin personally for a long time, so I was really honored and excited to photograph their wedding. In the image above, Caitlin was getting ready at her family home. She went upstairs to get her dress on, and when she came back down to put on her jewelry I snapped this photo of her mom and her bridesmaid watching. The reactions in this photo are everything. One of my favorite moments to photograph are the reactions of people as they see their daughter/sister/friend in her dress for the first time. As easy favorite from 2016.
11 | Lindsay and Zach at Wright’s Mill Farm
Fuji XT1 35mm f1.8 1/100 ISO 3200
A couple of months before the wedding Lindsay and Zach’s venue burned down. Literally. ( Article Here ) For a lot of couples, this would have been the absolute end of the world. But not for these two. They improvised – moving the reception to an outdoor pavillion and totally replanning their whole wedding. When the day finally came it poured. Hard. But they didn’t care! Truly, all they wanted to do was be married, and no amount of fire or rain could change that. I love the entire set of their wedding images, and I especially love this late-night, rainy, moody, foggy, humid portrait we took down the road from the pavilion.
10 | Krista and Steven at the Wadsworth Mansion in Middletown
Fuji XT1 18-55 @ 20mm f4 1/180th ISO 800
It’s super important to be aware of your surroundings as a wedding photographer. When Krista and Steven started their first dance I quickly bolted inside, up the stairs, and out on to the balcony for this top-down photo. What makes this image for me are the straight lines of the patio, and the wavy, curving line of everyone watching. I chose to frame the other photographer (my buddy Joe) and the filmmakers (David Long from Epic) into the photo, since I really felt like it added to the story of this image. Corey tells me it may be her favorite photo of the year, and it’s certainly an easy pick for my top 10.
9 | Carolyn and Jordan at the Avon Old Farms Hotel in Avon
Fuji XT2 35mm f1.4 1/25th ISO 1600 OCF @ 1/16th camera left
When Carolyn and her father shared a dance together her Mom and her new husband embraced and watched. It was a quick, but absolutely wonderful moment that I am so happy I was able to catch. I always shoot the first dances and parent dances towards the people watching. It’s tempting to mount a light by the DJ and shoot towards that direction, but so many of my favorite photos come from shooting towards people. It’s the number one thing you can do as a wedding photographer to make your images more effective. This is the perfect example of that.
8 | Mary Anna and David at the Stratton Mountain Resort in Stratton, VT
Fuji XT2 56mm f1.8 1/20th ISO 1000 Lowell GL-1 handheld behind couple
There are a lot of reasons why I love this image. First, aesthetically it’s awesome. It’s dramatic, it’s got snow, and warm lighting, and a great pose… all the elements for a killer night photo. But even more important to me than all of those things was the execution. We were up on a mountain and it was cold. I didn’t want to keep them out in the weather for half an hour trying to get the ‘perfect shot.’ So I grabbed my good friend, fellow photographer (and wedding guest) Jim Brandolini, and pulled them out for less than 60 seconds. I took 11 total photos, some wide, some tight, and chose this one has my favorite. A good wedding photographer can make images like this one out in the cold and the snow without taking forever to get it done. This is absolutely my favorite wedding portrait from the year.
7 | Megan and Mark at the New Haven Lawn Club
Fuji XT1 23mm f2.8 1/640th ISO 500
“One, two, three, TURN!” That’s all it took to grab this awesome bridesmaid reaction photo. It’s a very fun moment when a wedding party gets to see the bride for the first time in her gown. It’s not always possible, but when it comes together it’s a great way to capture real, genuine reactions of some of the bride’s closest family and friends. It’s such a real moment, and I knew it would be on this list the moment I shot it.
6 | Annmarie and Brian at Lake of Isles at Foxwoods Resort
Fuji XT1 35mm f1.4 1/400 ISO 2000
You might have noticed from my EXIF data that I don’t have a lens longer than 56mm. This is because I like shooting with primes, and I like being close to the action. There’s nothing wrong with throwing a telephoto lens on and shooting from across the room, but images like these are why I love being right there with the couple. This cake cutting shot from Annmarie and Brian’s wedding tells the whole story of how happy, fun, and in love they are. As always, I like shooting towards people, and this image is a great example of being in the right place ready for whatever happens.
5 | Amy and Ryan getting ready at a family home in Madison
Fuji XT1 23mm f4 1/400 ISO 200
Though I tend to focus on the bride and groom at my weddings, there are so many fun and unexpected moments that happen with other people throughout the day. In this image, one of Amy’s bridesmaids is sitting next to her flower girl on the steps of the home where she was getting ready. There are so many reasons to love this photo: the expressions, the banana, the bare feet, the similar outfits… it all came together for this one quick, and unexpected getting-ready photo. One of my favorites of the year!
4 | Mary Kate and Tom at the Lace Factory in Deep River
Fuji XT1 35mm f3.5 1/160 ISO 1600
I believe it’s my job as a wedding photographer to deliver unposed, unplanned images that not only tell stories, but capture perfect moments. For so many reasons this photo is my favorite first dance image of 2016. Aesthetically it’s got everything I look for… warm colors, a clear subject, interesting background, ambient lighting. I think it’s important as a photographer to know when to keep it simple. I didn’t have a flash set up for this one. I was just shooting along with the colors of the room. Sometimes it’s just better to crank the ISO and fire away. I like to let the camera do as much of the work as possible so I can spend my time creating images like this, rather than tinkering with gear all night.
3 | Liz and Scott at Farmington Gardens
Fuji XT1 23mm f1.8 1/600th ISO 400
Corey and I were looking forward to Liz and Scott’s Labor Day Weekend wedding for a long time. For one, Corey was a bridesmaid in the wedding. She’s been friends with Liz forever and couldn’t wait to be a part of it. Two, I have known Liz and Scott as long as I have known Corey and I was so excited to be a part of the wedding of two close friends. Their whole wedding was a blast, and there were so many familiar faces friends that we got to see that day. In this image, Scott was blindfolded as we took a trolley to their first look location. It’s one of the more clever ways to do a first look. If you know Liz and Scott you would know that this image is a perfect representation of how fun and in love they are. The expressions, and the wedding party in the foreground bring it all together. It was an easy pick as my top first look photo of 2016, and an easy pick for my top 3.
2 | Kayleigh and Matt at the Riverhouse
Fuji XT1 56mm f1.2 1/300th ISO 1600
At this point in the post any of these images could have easily been number 1. It’s so hard to pick an order for these photos, and Kayleigh and Matt’s wedding back in April had so many moments that could have made this list. I chose this one because all of the elements of a good wedding photo came together. Interesting subjects, nice lighting and a bit of lucky timing.
If you can’t tell, Kayleigh and her father had just stepped outside into the doorway. In the foreground is Matt standing and waiting for his bride, and in focus is Matt’s Mom. Moments before she had turned and smiled at him, but I missed it. I figured that when Kayleigh stepped out she would turn and look at him again. Luckily I was right and I had my camera focused on her waiting for the turn. This time I got even luckier because she winked! And in that moment I knew instantly that I had a top 3 photo of the year.
Sometimes as a wedding photographer you just have to get a little lucky, and that’s what happened here. What an awesome couple and an awesome wedding.