Pittsburgh Wedding Photographers » One of the "50 Top US Wedding Photographers" - weddzilla.com

Susie and Guido’s Pittsburgh Athletic Association Wedding:

A bride and groom embrace in front of the grand fireplace in the lobby of the Pittsburgh Athletic Association

Asking me to pick my favorite weddings is kind of like asking me to pick my favorite child. Every wedding is different and I love them for different reasons. Susie and Guido’s wedding was pretty special for me, though. You see, back when I started to get serious about taking on wedding commissions I was fortunate enough to be hired by Susie’s big sister Leah and her husband Ben. I always do my best, but their wedding was the one where it all sort of clicked for me and I felt like I had found my voice as a documentary wedding photographer. It helped that Leah and Ben and their families are some of the kindest, most open, and loving people you’ll ever meet.

So I was quite excited when Susie contacted me to tell me that she was getting married and she wanted me to photograph her wedding. She said it was already a done deal. She and Guido weren’t considering anyone else because they wanted the best photographer they could get and I was that guy. No pressure, right?!?

Anyway, we met up for an engagement session and I got a sense of who they are as a couple. A golden retriever and a snowball fight will make any portrait session fun 🙂

Here are some of my favorite photos from their wedding day:

Susie looks at herself in a full-length mirror held by her bridesmaids. Such a simple and beautiful dress:

A bride looks at herself in a full-length mirror held by a bridesmaid

Guido waits for the first look with his groomsmen (Lisa’s photo):

A groom looks for his bride while standing near the Cathedral of Learning

Susie and the girls walk over to the Cathedral of Learning for the first look:

A bride holds her arms out as she walks along Fifth Avenue in Oakland

Lisa’s photo:

A groom stands with his eyes closed as his bride approaches for their first look

a bride and groom embrace while their bridal party looks on

We were very lucky to have caught a break in the rain for the first look and portraits prior to the wedding ceremony. The light was soft and beautiful:

a bride and groom walk hand in hand beneath the trees outside of the Cathedral of LearningA groom kisses his bride

Leah’s son Weston is a cutie:

A cute little boy looks up at the camera with his fingers in his mouth

Ring bearers Weston and Lucas burst into the wedding. The ceremony was originally scheduled to be held outside in the sculpture garden in Mellon Park, but rain caused Susie and Guido to go to their Plan B inside of the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. You’ve always got to have a Plan B when you have an outdoor wedding (Lisa’s photo):

two young ring bearers burst into the wedding

Compositionally this is not the greatest photo that I’ve ever taken, but it never fails to move me when I look at it. In this moment Guido’s affection for Leah and Ben’s son Wyatt says so much to me about the quality of his heart:

a groom kisses the forehead of a ring bearer in a wheelchair

Lisa’s photo below:

A bride and groom say their vows as they are photographed from above

The ceremony was so joyful. It really captured Susie and Guido’s spirit:

A bride laughs as she looks at her guests

Lisa’s photo below:

a bride and groom raise their champagne glasses as they toast their guests

Leaving the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts:

A groom laughs as he and his bride walk under the shelter of an umbrella

On to the reception! Weston and Lucas were still running, with Leah and Ben behind them this time:

The ring bearers run into the wedding reception

What an entrance!

bride and groom leap and run into the reception as they are introduced

Susie and Guido react to Leah and best man Anthony’s speeches:

matron of honor and best man toast the bride and groom

Parent’s dances (next 4 are Lisa’s photos):

parenttwin sisters dancea bridesmaid raises her hands on the dancefloor

These two know how to dance:

bride and groom stretch their arms out towards each other as they dance

Guido stole the show with his signature moves to Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean:

groom dances with his tie swinging

Guido and his fraternity brothers gathered in a circle to serenade Susie:

a bride is surrounded by the groom and his friends as they sing to herbride and groom play air guitar

Guido’s dad Larry and Susie’s dad Dale shared a dance to the delight of the bride:

father of the bride and father of the groom share a dance as the bride laughs

Guido and his brother Gabe:

groom picks his younger brother up and swings him around on the dance floor

The after party was held in the bowling alley in the basement of the Pittsburgh Athletic Association. A very fun way to end a great day:

bowlers in the basement of the PAA

Thanks very much. I just wish that there was a third sister!

Bride and groom are reflected in a puddle outside of the Cathedral of Learning

  • Rebecca Kiger - February 6, 2015 - 10:15 pm

    Awesome work, as always.

  • Stephanie Gurrera Vellente - February 7, 2015 - 1:06 am

    A night to remember ❤️

  • Karen Miller - February 7, 2015 - 2:50 am

    Absolutely stunning!

Laura and Carson’s Pittsburgh Children’s Museum Wedding:

A newlywed couple stands near the old Carnegie Library on the North Side on a summer day

Laura and Carson came back to Laura’s hometown of Pittsburgh for their wedding celebration. They’re a loving, gentle, humorous, and generous couple. Their also very detail-oriented people whose biggest concern was that their guests have a terrific time at their wedding. They totally succeeded in that, as you can see in the photos below.

I loved Laura’s reaction as makeup artist showed her the results:

a bride reacts with joy when she sees her face after the makeup artist finished her job

Carson and his brother got ready in a different room at the Hyatt on the North Shore (Lisa’s photo below):

a groom and his brother look at themselves in the mirror as they get ready for the weddinga bride reaches for her dress hanging in the window of a hotel room

Laura’s mom Maureen and her sister help her get her dress on:

a bride smiles as her mom and sister help her get her dress onsoft light wraps around the face and arms of a bride as she puts her earrings in.

Laura’s niece helped her with her dress as she headed for the first look:

bride looks back at the flower girl who carries the train of her dress as she leaves the hotel for her wedding.

Carson waited for Laura on the bridge over the water steps near PNC Park on the North Shore:

a bride taps her groom on the shoulder as they have their first look on a bridge at North Shore Park

Molly, their Welsh Corgi was waiting for her turn to see Laura:

a bride and groom with their pet corgi at North Shore Park

Laura’s dad did his best to keep a smile on his face – he was pretty emotional before walking Laura down the aisle:

A father tries to keep from crying as his daughter, the bride, as they talk before walking down the aisle.

a bride and her father walk through a portico with twinkling lights on the ceiling during her wedding ceremony at the Pittsburgh Children

The ceremony was filled with laughter:

a bride leans back and laughs while holding hands with her groom during their wedding ceremonygroom raises his fist in triumph as the bride laughs at the end of their wedding ceremony

First dance. The big red room at the Children’s Museum is a great place for dinner and dancing. It’s very elegant and the huge Chinese lantern chandeliers are very cool:

a bride and groom dance beneath giant Chinese lanterns in the big red room of the pittsburgh children

Laura and Carson’s guests rushed the dance floor to join them after the first dance:

reflections of guests rushing to the dance floor to join a bride and groom at their wedding

Lisa’s photo below:

bride and groom dance and smile during their receptionbride caresses the cheeks of her husband as they dance

There was a sort of selfie machine at the Children’s Museum that would automatically project a grid of photos on the wall above the dance floor. I love to photograph expressive people. Everybody at this wedding was very expressive 🙂

bride and groom make funny faces into a screenwedding guests dance energeticallygiant Chinese lanterns with tiny guests dancing beneath thema woman dances with a man as he makes a crazy face during a wedding reception

Carson’s brother plays a mean air guitar:

a man slides to the floor while playing air guitar during a wedding reception

There are so many different spots around the museum that offer interesting possibilities for portraits that I feel like I’ll never run out of ideas photographing there:

bright colored lights lead down a dark hallway where a couple embraces at the end of it

Thanks to my friend Jenna at the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum for working hard to ensure that everything and everybody was well taken care of. Thanks to Rania’s catering for a great meal and to the fantastic Allison McGeary for making the space more beautiful with her floral creations. Frank Shepard from DJ Rockin’ Bob’s kept the guests dancing while All Occasions and Lendable Linens did a great job in transforming the space into an elegant dining and dancing hall. Finally, thanks to the late, great Andy Schick for providing the tasteful, classy lighting in the big red room. His gentle personality and talent are missed.

  • Rebecca Kiger - January 20, 2015 - 1:48 am

    Awesome job, once again!

  • Wendy Crise Cosentino - January 20, 2015 - 5:50 pm

    Beautiful photos!! So sorry we missed this wonderful event!

Photos from Marina and Tony’s lovely early summer wedding at Lingrow Farm:

couple embraces in the doorway of a farmhouse

The farmhouse at Lingrow is a great space. It has such a wonderful feel to it with sunlight filling the rooms. Here Marina has her makeup done:

bride is reflected in the glass of a table top while having her makeup done

Meanwhile Tony was outside giving shoulder rubs to the guests as they arrived (Lisa’s photo below):

back rub chain of groom and wedding guests

The first look was impromptu when Tony came into the room where Marina had just finished getting her gown on:

groom pops his head into a bedroom door to see his bride in her wedding dress

It was a lovely moment with Marina’s mom Nancy looking on:

couple kisses as the bridebride looks in a mirror as her maid of honor and makeup artist adjust her necklacegroom smiles as his boutonniere is pinned to the lapel of his suit jacket

portrait of a bride lit by a window

Tony and his mom get ready to walk down the hill to the pavilion before the wedding (Lisa’s photo):

groom makes a nervous gesture as he and his mother prepare to walk down the aisle at his wedding.

Marina and her dad Frank waited in the lower level of the barn for their turn to walk down to the pavilion:

bride and her father stand ready to walk down the aisle togetherbride looks at her father as they walk down the aisle together

Tony watches as Marina and her dad make their way towards him (Lisa’s photo):

groom smiles as he sees his bride coming towards them during their wedding ceremony

The ceremony was really lovely and personal. A friend wrote the score for the processional and the couple surprised everyone by exchanging their vows through a vocoder voice synthesizer. That was a new one for me!

bride looks at her groom during their wedding ceremonyview of the wedding from behindgroom looks at his bride during their wedding ceremony

Exchanging the rings proved to be a challenge for both of them:

bride struggles to get the ring on her groom

(Lisa’s photo below):

groom makes a face as he struggles to get the ring on his bride

The couple stopped at the top of the hill for a moment just after the ceremony:

bride and groom embrace as they pause on a hill above their wedding ceremony

I love the bright colors and light on the back porch of the farmhouse:

bride and groom look out the windows of a farmhouse porch after their wedding

First dance (Lisa’s photo below):

bride and groom share their first dance under strings of lights

Marina’s dad’s speech was pretty athletic:

father of the bride jumps in the air while giving a toast to the couple

But it was definitely entertaining (Lisa’s photo below):

bride and groom laugh during toasts

…and heartfelt:

groom smiles during a toast from the father of the bride

(Lisa’s photo below):

groom and father of the bride embrace after a toast

One of the couple’s young guests ran through the field as the crew prepared the fireworks display for later that evening:

a child leaps into the air in a field during a wedding reception

One of the guests came up with an awesome and original tribute to the couple:

the shaved head of a wedding guest reveals the last name of the couple

Tony danced with his mom:

groom picks his mother off of the ground as they danceadults and children dance together during a wedding reception in a barn

This brave guest patted one of the farm cats on the head. From the looks of this cat, it gets into a fight every night and loses a lot of them (Lisa’s photo below):

a wedding guest pats a farm cat on the head during a wedding reception

Both Marina and Tony are artists. Tony made the disco ball out of broken mirrors:

a mirrored disco ball spins during a wedding receptionlesbian couple kills it on the dance floor during a wedding reception

This fantastic fireworks shot was taken by Lisa:

bride and groom kiss with fireworks in the background

There was a campfire for the guests to enjoy. Tony’s dad spent weeks soaking pine cones in different salt solutions so that the flames would be colored. It was a very interesting effect:

wedding guests gather around a camp fire

Marina and Tony had dozens of these multi-colored lights spread out on tables all throughout the reception. I thought it’d be an interesting element in a portrait if I gathered a bunch of them together. I think it worked out pretty well:

bride and groom share a tender moment illuminated by colored lights at their wedding reception

  • Rebecca Kiger - January 15, 2015 - 11:37 pm

    These are fantastic!

  • Joe - January 19, 2015 - 5:30 pm

    Thanks Rebecca!

Pittsburgh Photojournalist:

I love weddings. Filled with narrative, emotion, beauty, and joy – they’re an ideal vehicle for visual storytelling.

Variety, as is said, is the spice of life. For a very long time I worked as a full-time newspaper photojournalist. The subject matter and range of situations that you find yourself in while doing that job is nothing if not varied. I still enjoy the opportunity to do that sort of work and I’ve been very fortunate to have done some freelance work for The Washington Post over the past couple of years.

Here’s a story that I photographed for the Post. I had a great time with the King family, of the Great American Country network series Farm Kings. The editors liked the photos enough to run them on the section front with a double truck spread inside! That sort of play really gets a photographer jazzed up. Since it was in one of the country’s largest and most-respected daily newspapers you can just imagine how I felt.

Newspaper section front showing a family eating dinner together outdoors at picnic table as well as an image of plated turkey with all of the fixingsNewspaper pages with images of a family being filmed by a television crew while eating dinner, a woman picking flowers, men cleaning butchered meat, a man removing plastic mulch from a field and a woman making gravy for dinner

Here’s a link to the online version of the story on the newspaper’s website. The photos are bigger in this gallery.

If you follow me on Instagram (joeappel) you know that I love to photograph food, so that made this assignment that much better 🙂


Diane and Rick’s Fairmont Pittsburgh Wedding:

Rick and Diane had their wedding in the late spring. We returned to the beautiful Fairmont Pittsburgh hotel for the second weekend in a row. It’s a great place as is St. Mary of the Mount, where they had their ceremony.

married couple stand close together on the walkway beneath the convention center by the Tenth Street Water Feature

Diane gets ready with the help of her bridesmaids:

bride and her bridesmaids are reflected in a mirror while she puts her earrings in

Her parents Mike and Peg look on:


Diane’s maid of honor (and sister) Sarah helps her put her shoes on:


Such a beautiful bride:

portrait of a beautiful bride focused on her blue eyes

Some details, include Louboutin shoes for her and mis-matched socks for him:

detail photos include funny socks on groom, Christian Louboutin shoes, buttons on the back of bride

The guys had some refreshments before heading over to the church (Lisa’s photo):

hands reach for shot glasses

Like any good husband, Rick knows how to follow directions. Like any good wife, Diane knows how to give them (Lisa’s photo):

groom holds note that bride left for him giving him instructionsbride wears her Christian Louboutin shoes

Rick and his mom share a moment outside of the church (Lisa’s photo):

groom and his mother share a private moment before the wedding ceremony

I don’t know who looks happier, Diane or Mike?:

father looks at his daughter as he walks her down the aisle during her wedding

Rick had tears in his eyes as he saw them walking towards him (Lisa’s photo):

groom tears up as he watches his bride walk towards him

You never know how the handoff is going to go at the front of the church. This was a really nice moment:

groom embraces the father of the bridebride caresses her groom during their wedding cereomonybride and groom kiss at the front of the church during their wedding at Saint Mary of the Mount

Really, it’s not that difficult 😀

groomsman makes a face as he opens a bottle of champagne in the limousine after the wedding

Bridal party photo on the water steps near PNC Park:

wedding party cheers while the bride and groom kiss at the water steps near PNC Park

We went over to the walkway underneath the D.L. Lawrence Convention Center for some photos. Intense sunlight can make doing portraits in the middle of the day difficult, but the light was beautiful there:

Beautiful bride beneath the David L. Lawrence Convention Center

Rick’s turn:

Three portraits of a groom beneath the Pittsburgh convention center

Back on the limousine bus, the party was in full swing:

Groomsmen sing and dance onboard the limousinebride and her bridesmaids sing and dance on the limousine

We took a few moments for portraits in the lobby of the Fairmont before the cocktail hour:

bride and groom stand together on the stairway next to the big windows at the Fairmont Pittsburgh

Some details from the reception:

detail photos of the decor including flowers, place settings and tables at the Pittsburgh Fairmont

The couple makes their entrance into the reception (Lisa’s photo):

A man applauds as the bride and groom are introduced into their wedding reception

First dance in the Fairmont Hotel ballroom:

bride and groom share a first dance at the Fairmont Pittsburgh hotel ballroom

It was very sweet to see Diane’s reaction to Rick and his mom dancing together:

bride watches as her husband and his mother dance

Diane’s grandfather is a LOT of fun. He was on the dance floor for the whole evening:

crazy old man dominates the dance floor at his granddaughter

This was great. Mike and his brothers cleared out a space on the dance floor, got in a circle, and ran towards each other:

a circle of men rush towards each other

I love the reaction of the other guests!

A circle of men bounce off of each other as they jump into the air the father of the bride yells after jumping into the air with his brothers


a couple dances very close to each other during a wedding reception

These lighted foam sticks were Rick’s idea. The guests loved them!

a group of guys play air guitar as they dance

Bouquet toss:

a bride gets ready to throw her bouquet to single women

Sarah grabbed it:

the maid of honor raises her hands in triumph after catching the bouquet

The garter toss was hotly contested (Lisa’s photo):

a single man jumps for the garter tossed by the groom

Rick and his guys:

the groom and his friends sing as they dance together

Diane and her bridesmaids (Lisa’s photo):

the bride and her bridesmaids laugh and dance together

Rick and Diane’s dog made an appearance. I don’t think he knew what to make of the celebration:

the couple

Last dance:

the groom lifts his bride and a beer during the last song of their wedding reception

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  • Rebecca Kiger - December 24, 2014 - 1:08 am

    Awesome work!