My name is Joseph and I am a wedding photographer based in Antigua Guatemala. My creative journey began as a child through drawing and music. Though my father and sister were both photographers, I did not pick up a camera until I was 21. I was fortunate enough as a child to have a mother who read to me. Through years of nights spent up late reading books and watching films, I discovered the importance of stories.My liberal arts education and artistic upbringing as a child contributed to my approach to photography. Much of what I knew about storytelling came from stories I was exposed to growing up in rural Appalachia. Today, I use those same story telling skills in my photography.
During university I earned a competitive scholarship for the U.S. Department of State photographing my travels around the world as a student. It was then that I discovered a true love for photography. My time spent traveling thought Europe sparked a desire to explore visual storytelling as a hobby. There, I learned the value of photography in storytelling and connected with other photographers and creative directors in London who helped me get started. Once I moved back to the U.S. I began pursuing photography in a professional capacity. My career began as a part-time photographer in university. I began to take a camera with me everywhere I went, and taught myself the technical aspects of photography. After university, I relocated to Costa Rica where I worked as a freelance photographer and second shooter for professionals with decades of experience in the destination wedding photography industry.
Today, I use my background and experience to capture the most important day in two peoples’ lives. I am fortunate to live in a city as beautiful as Antigua Guatemala and to tell the stories of couples in love. My journey through countries and cultures around the world informs my photography. My creative pursuits have come to define who I am. I choose every day to not cut corners in my work and to deliver the best photographs to each client. In my free time, I still play music, draw, and read to exercise my creativity in various forms.
Approach to Photography
My photography often produces more questions than answers. In the words of Cartier-Bresson, “photography has the power to evoke, and must not simply document.” As a storyteller, I am not a photographer who invents moments with cheesey poses and bulky flashes. Rather, my passion lies in capturing real life moments as they occur in real time using natural light. I find inspiration in minimalism and use negative space in photographs to connect with my viewers. I focus on composing light, emotion, and movement in my photographs in a way that creates a compelling story. I rarely intervene in the scene in front of me. It is my aim to preserve beautiful moments that might otherwise disappear from memory. Intentionality in my photographs is often the difference between photography that feels lifeless and photography that evokes emotion.
Photo By: Kevin Heslin
Below I have listed three photographers who have had the greatest influence on my work and personal journey. There are so many more generous and creative individuals who have guided and inspired me throughout the years, but the three listed below have majorly shaped the way I approach photography today. I highly encourage you to view their portfolios and experience the amazing photographs they create. My experience as a second wedding photographer for these individuals allowed me to be creative with my photography and taught me the technical skills I needed to turn my passion into my profession. I love using the creativity I learned as a second shooter for other photographers to deliver fantastic photos to the couples who chose to book me. It’s a gift I will never take for granted.
Caleb Irvin. Caleb Irvin is a published wedding photographer in Central Kentucky. During university, I was fortunate enough to befriend Caleb through mutual friend and photographer, Justin Skeens. As a young photographer, I looked up to Caleb’s work and aimed to one day be as good as he is. In the summer immediately following my graduation, Caleb was kind enough to hire me as a second photographer. He taught me the importance of never using a shot list and instead allowing the day to unfold in its own way. To Caleb, check lists killed creativity and the ability to tell honest stories. He taught me that it was important to let the story of the day naturally evolve and that being aware of capturing that story was the most important part of photographing a wedding. Because of Caleb I began to view wedding photography as an art that needed to be carefully approached with a creative mind and an open heart.
Kevin Heslin. Kevin Heslin is a premium destination wedding photographer based in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. I studied under Kevin from 2016 to 2017. Kevin taught me the business side of wedding photography. He regularly reviewed my portfolio and would give me tips on how to constantly improve my storytelling ability. Often times, Kevin would put me in positions I wasn’t ready for and would allow me to learn through experience. He challenged me to grow as a person and photographer. Kevin always encouraged me to take new opportunities and made possible my progress today. What I learned from Kevin about the business side of wedding photography has proved invaluable. I am fortunate to have a friend and mentor like Kevin. To this day he remains a close friend and someone whose work I hold in high regard.
Daniel Lopez Perez. Daniel and Mishka are destination wedding photographers living on Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. When I met Daniel and Mishka, I was immediately taken up by how kind they are. Their humility and willingness to help me make my transition to Antigua Guatemala amazed me. They are some of my favorite people. Their work and friendship have influenced me greatly.
Photo by: Kelly Balch
Every accomplishment in my life is backed by incredible individuals who prayed for, inspired, and supported me more than I could ever have deserved. In an effort to pay it forward to future generations of young creatives, I donate my time, talents, and resources to youth around the world wanting to learn photography. I also give financially to causes I believe are making a difference in Guatemala and around the world. To make a donation to help break the generational cycle of poverty youth in Guatemala face, click here.