A Milestone and World’s Best Wedding Photos

We’re coming out of a year like no other which is making me think back on my career as a photographer. While I’m celebrating a career milestone I’m also looking forward to what the future has in store. Some exciting news: I was asked to join an exclusive listing of photographers – World’s Best Wedding Photos!

A Decade on My Own

If you’ve spent some time on my website you’ll know that I was once a photojournalist on the staff of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. I still do work for magazines and newspapers as a freelancer, but it’s not my full-time job any more. In 2011 I decided to take a chance by becoming my own boss. For sure that was an exciting prospect but also one filled with risk. Employees usually don’t have to worry about revenue or payroll or any of the thousand other things that go into running a business. Still, I wanted the freedom to chart my own direction.

Joe Appel Photography at PPG Wintergarden

Thanks for the photo, Alexa Diserio!

Ten years later I know the decision to leave the relative safety of a job on a newspaper staff was one of the best I ever made. Success isn’t a solo journey. I am grateful to my clients, family and friends who have supported me along the way.

Loving Photography More than Ever

Working with couples to tell the story of their day in pictures is wonderful. I love it! Being behind the lens means that I don’t have a lot of photos of myself. But every now and then I end up in a picture. Here are a few behind-the-scenes photos with the image I was making at the same time.

Photographer Joe Appel takes a photo of a couple in the entry to the Harvard Yale Princeton Club in downtown Pittsburgh

Amy and Siva are a striking couple. We had a little bit of time for portraits before their reception at the William Penn. Luckily, there are a lot of really nice spots that are just a short walk away.

Photographer Joe Appel poses a couple in the park across the street from the William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh.

These are from late 2019 when we didn’t wear masks everywhere.

Photographer Joe Appel takes a photo of a father dancing with his daughter at her wedding in Montgomery, Alabama

This is one from earlier this year in Montgomery, Alabama. The reception took place in a tent because it’s still pretty nice there in early January. I do my best not to draw attention to myself while I’m working the angles.

These are fun to see!

Looking Ahead and Best Wedding Photos

If I could, I’d leave a one-star Yelp! review for 2020. Would not recommend. Honestly, it wasn’t all bad. The weddings that I photographed in 2020 and early 2021 were all affected by the pandemic and its restrictions. Weirdly, that seemed to add an element of joy to those events. Maybe it was the shared sense of gratitude for something to celebrate. Maybe it was just the opportunity to cut loose a little. It was probably a little bit of both.

A bride and groom hold hands and look at each other with fall foliage behind them. When your work is among the world's best wedding photos you've got to up your game!

I think that attitude will be with us going forward. I’m fully vaccinated and excited to get back to being with people! A year like the last one also makes you realize what’s really important – like family and friends. Photographing those relationships is the driving force behind my work. I want to give clients photos that they’ll value for the rest of their lives.

A bride and groom embrace during their first dance. The bride has a small smile on her face and closed eyes. This is the type of image that these folks will treasure for the rest of their lives. It's that kind of meaning that the world's best wedding photos all have in common.

That’s what’s great about being a part of World’s Best Wedding Photos. They get it. I look at the photographers on that site and am struck by their excellence and talent. I know many of them and can tell you that they’re terrific, generous people in addition to being wonderful photographers. So I’m honored to have been asked to join this group.