We consider ourselves to be pretty fun wedding vendors…which is part of why we love photographer Dani Leigh so much. As “The Fun Photographer,” she has a knack for capturing some of the most joyous and delightful moments at weddings. While her portrait-style photos are also beautiful, it’s the candids that she snaps that make her a wedding legend.
Although she was born and raised in Maryland, Dani didn’t always know that a career behind the camera was in the cards for her. Her old job was providing grief therapy for an organ procurement organization. “As you can imagine,” she says, “it was pretty depressing.”
She asked herself, “What’s the best day of someone’s life?” That’s what she wanted to be involved in. She started second shooting, providing support and alternative angles for another photographer. After two years, she left her safe job and went out on her own as a Maryland wedding photographer.
While she loves her career now, it does come with its challenges. Work/life balance can be hard, especially as a mother of two rambunctious little boys. And then there was that pesky pandemic that turned the wedding industry upside down for a while. While it may not have the same kind of stability as her former career, she wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Dani was kind enough to share some of her thoughts about weddings with us, which we’ve included below. Enjoy!
Responses have been lightly edited for clarity.
What’s your favorite venue and why?
My favorite venue is the George Peabody Library. Strictly because every time I am there, I am in awe. It makes me feel like I really made it as a wedding photographer. I will be thrilled when it finally reopens.
What’s your favorite thing about weddings?
My favorite thing about weddings is all the people I get to meet. I always say that it's a good thing I am pretty decent at taking pictures because what I really enjoy is getting to know people. I love learning about their lives, their relationship, all the fun little quirks only they know. I also love capturing people laughing and the joy of the day. And most of the laughing photos on my website are just my couples making fun of each other—I love couples who can laugh at it all.
What’s the wildest thing a couple has ever asked for?
Hmm. This is a tough one. I am asked so many, "Is it ok if at the end of the shoot we..." type questions that I am not even phased anymore. It's also always a groom. The bride never has a list of ridiculous photos they need. It's a luchador mask, wrestling belts, a friend popping out in a Freddy mask…
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen a member of the wedding party do?
What’s the best “little kid moment” you’ve seen at a wedding?
When I remove a kid from a photo and they are super bummed about being asked to leave, I let them take the next picture. It's so fun to see how excited they get to help me. I put the camera on Live View and tell them to tap the face of their favorite person in the picture, and only the kid and I know who they touched. And then the photo snaps and we high five.
What’s one thing you wish people knew about working at weddings?
I wish people knew that while they are so fun, I am in a full-on wedding hangover the next day. No alcohol at all the day before, but the next day you sorta just feel like you were hit by a bus. I do a lot of squats on a wedding day, my gear is heavy, and my croc flats only help so much. And the amount of work afterward for a photographer is immense. Every other vendor leaves the wedding and is done and can wash their hands of it. I get to have it on my computer screen for a couple of weeks before sending the gallery off to the newlyweds.
What’s the best speech you’ve ever heard?
My favorite speeches are always the ones that mix a good blend of humor and sentimentality. Make me cry and then bring me back up with a funny story. I enjoyed one recently where the bride's sister told a sweet story about her sister being her bestest friend and that they did everything together. She never wanted a brother, because having a little sister was the best thing ever but when the bride met her husband, she knew she was going to gain a brother—and she ended her speech with "thank you for being the greatest brother I never asked for" and it was just delivered so perfectly and wittily. It was perfect. I could've cried and laughed at the same time.
What’s your favorite wedding movie and why?
No joke, every time I see that The Proposal is on tv, I watch it. I also am a sucker for the dancing scene in American Wedding. The venue, the floor, the aerial shot, I love it all. Oh, and I watch Crazy Rich Asians every time I am on an airplane. Fight me on it, but it is awesome whether you think it's a wedding movie or not.
What’s your best marriage advice?
Make sure to laugh. Every day. And when you think things are boring, remember you probably have exactly what you always wanted.
All photos by Dani Leigh Photography
Wednesday, January 26, 2022