Photog Faves: Dark and Moody

Emma Frankart Henterly

When we first came upon the dramatic photos of Abigail Reeder Photography, we knew we’d found something special. Reeder’s shooting and editing style isn’t like those of most wedding photographers, so we reached out to see what made her want to tell bright, happy wedding day stories with such high-contrast, dark-toned shots.

Reeder started her career as a graphic design major at Ohio State University, but by her junior year, she realized it wasn’t the path for her. Then, in a stroke of fate worthy of a movie script, disaster struck.

“I had a friend whose wedding I was just attending, it was a close friend of my husband’s. And the week beforehand, their photographer dropped out,” Reeder says. “I had my mom’s camera at that point in time, it was a Nikon and the only lens it had on it was like a 7200, it was a super long lens, but I didn’t know that much about cameras at that point in time—so I thought, whatever, I got this, I know it’s a nice camera.”

The friend had asked another acquaintance with film experience to step in, so Reeder joined the team as a second shooter to provide extra day-of coverage—and she loved it.

“But then I kind of figured, one and done,” Reeder says. “It was fun, but I don’t know what I’ll do with that.”

It wasn’t until Reeder was approached by two other wedding photographers—including the one who shot Reeder’s own wedding—who both praised her work that she started to consider wedding photography as a profession.

“I said, ‘OK, there’s two photographers who do this full-time who thought my stuff is pretty great. And I don’t want to do graphic design, so maybe this is something I can do.’ ”

Reeder started her business before graduating—a risky move that has since paid off.

“I don’t regret it, just because now I’m doing the business full-time, but those eight months, trying  to do my senior thesis and my photography business at the same time was awful. It was so stressful!” she remembers.

She credits her unique style both to her personal preferences and to her own sense of style.

“I’m a melancholy person, so I kind of view the world in this slightly dark way,” she says with a laugh. “I think it doesn’t affect my friendliness, but I think it affects my outlook on certain things, maybe. … And if you’re getting down to personal style and everything, a lot of what I wear is a little moodier. I’ve never worn super light, bright things. Neons scare me; I run away from them. I get terrified every time I walk into Target and they’re back in style.”

But ultimately, Reeder says the style comes down to more than aesthetics.

“I guess it’s the way that I see the world. … One thing that I always didn’t really like as much about the bright-light styles, I thought it just kind of took the natural shadow out of everything,” she says of more traditional wedding photography. “I don’t really think that’s exactly how life is. You do see shadows, you do see darker things. And that could be metaphorical or literal, it could go both ways.”

Reeder knows that her atypical approach to wedding photography isn’t for everyone. “I still get nervous about [building a client base] sometimes. Actually one of the first things I talk to someone about when they wanna meet up is I ask them, ‘Have you looked at my portfolio?’ [and] ‘Do you feel like you understand my style?’ ”

That communication is vital to making sure her clients will ultimately be happy with their final product. “I usually ask the question several times: Do you like my style? And it’s okay if you don’t,” she says. “There are so many beautiful styles out there, and your wedding photos should be something you want to look at for the rest of your life.”