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 my sister were 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, and over years of nights spent up late listening to stories, I discovered the importance of stories. Because of my liberal arts education and artistic upbringing as a child, it did not take me long to put into practice the familiar concepts of narrative and composition. Much of what I knew about storytelling came from stories and songs I had been exposed to growing up in rural Appalachia in the 90s. Today, I use those same story telling approaches in my photography.
While on scholarship for the U.S. Department of State to photograph my travels around the world as a student, I discovered a true love for photography. My time spent traveling thought Europe revealed a desire for visual storytelling. There, I learned the value of photography in storytelling, and connected with other photographers and creative directors in London who helped me get started. I moved back to the United States and began pursuing photography in a professional capacity. I began my career as a part-time photographer in university, where I traded my time photographing events in exchange for a full tuition scholarship. I began to take a camera with me everywhere I would go, and taught myself the technical aspects of photography. After university, I relocated to Costa Rica where I worked as a freelance photographer. I soon began learning under veteran photographers in the destination wedding industry who taught me how to excel as a destination wedding photographer.
Today, I use my storytelling background and experience in photography to capture the most important day in peoples’ lives. I am fortunate to live in a city as beautiful as Antigua Guatemala and to tell the stories of couples in love who travel from around the world to get married in the ancient ruins here. My journey through countries and cultures around the world inform my photography. My creative pursuits have come to define who I am. My love of art is a crucial element of who I am as person. 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.
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 unnatural lights. Rather, my passion lies in capturing the moments before me as they occur in real time. 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 compellingly tells a story. I capture moments as they happen as if a photographer was not present. I do not pose and I rarely intervene in the scene infront of me. It is my aim to evoke emotion in every photograph—to preserve beautiful moments that might otherwise disappear. Intention is what separates me from others in the competitive industry of wedding photography. I choose journey of creative discovery, and through photography show moments otherwise missed.
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 make my transition to Antigua Guatemala easy amazed me. They are some of my favorite people. Their work and friendship have influenced me greatly.
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 around the world.