Emily and Tim’s reception at The Watermen’s Museum.

Photographing small, intimate events is in my blood.

There was a time, not too long ago, when I made my photographic living covering weddings. Every year I would book about a dozen or so ceremonies in the very short season of upstate New York. I lived the wedding photographer’s life for just over a decade.

I won’t lie, doing them was hard work. You are on your feet six, eight, or more hours. You are constantly “on” as you move about. I often joke that the most important piece of non-photographic equipment a wedding photographer needs is a good pair of shoes because you are going to putting some serious hours in them and miles on them.

Stress is something that I’ve came to terms with a long time ago and made friends with. Stress keeps you on your toes and ready for everything. Bad things are going to happen at the worst time. The key to survival in this game is planning on them and being ready when they do pop up.

Despite all that,  I loved every single one that I covered. I can sit back, even now, and remember moments from every one I’ve done.


Covering these events appealed to me on several levels. The biggest plus was sharing a pivotal moment in two families lives as they merged into one and started a new life together. Being able to work in such a positive, fun-filled, environment was such a joy.

It also allowed me to do what I do best – document those key, fleeting, once in a lifetime moments in an otherwise very hectic day so they can be cherished anytime for years to come. To get those kinds of images required vigilance all the time. You simply could not put the camera down or take a break or else you’d miss that special moment. You also had to be able to think on your feet and make split second changes in an ever evolving environment.

I have moved on from doing big weddings, for the most part, for a variety of reasons. But that’s not to say that I don’t do weddings at all. In fact I average one or two a year. If you dig back to earlier entries on this page you’ll find them. It’s just not the main focus of my current business.

Let me make it clear – I’m not knocking those that want the big productions. I’m all for them. If that’s what you want I know several truly gifted photographers that I would gladly name in a heartbeat. They just aren’t for me any more.

I just love the small, intimate affairs. You know the ones. A small, informal gathering of close friends that are just a couple hours from beginning to end. Like the ones I describe here – https://photosbymarkk.com/sincere-weddings/

Take Emily and Tim’s recent wedding reception, for example. They had already gotten married but didn’t have their reception until recently. I met with her and her mom, Laura, two weeks before the event to go over ideas and desires. All they were looking for was someone to cover a few hours at the reception. We talked about options and what they wanted for a final product.

I had my trust notebook with me and took notes.

As the wedding itself was already done, the pressure was reduced. The event was held at The Watermen’s Museum in Yorktown, Virginia. It was a fun-filled night of dance, food and mingling. I got to do my thing – move around, capturing those special moments and documenting the night’s activities for the couple to enjoy for years to come.

When it was over, I experienced that familiar feeling of a runner’s high that I always got after an event. I was tired but stimulated and energized. I had done something special and was feeling like I was on top of the world.

Mark Knopp is a Virginia Beach-based portrait photographer covering the Hampton Roads community. Contact him today at mknopp1@cox.net for your photographic needs or for lessons.



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