Meet the Black Photographers Who Are Changing How We Remember Weddings

Plus, they share their favorite work.
by Esther Lee

Once the day has come and gone, the remaining memories preserved are immortalized through the most powerful human sense of all: vision. It's why wedding photography and the visuals from the day bridge cherished moments to the memories you'll embrace forever. Here, The Knot chats with talented wedding vendors in the business, specifically Black wedding photographers, who are changing how we remember and capture events and life milestones. These pros are innovating within the space and are evolving not only how weddings are captured, but encapsulated for generations to come. 

Anée Atelier

Chat with any creative in weddings and a name that reverberates throughout the industry is Anée Atelier, a photography business that provides en-suite wedding experiences, owned and operated by best friends Sheena Meekins and Gina Esposito. Seven years ago, the business partners relinquished their corporate media careers to pursue their full-time passion: photography. Known for their bright, editorial style, along with their unique fashion tastes, the power players (affectionately known as "Sheena and Gina" within the industry), have built a presence among the more creative, fashion-forward couples who know they want timeless imagery with a modern look and feel. 

Anée Atelier's biggest innovation, perhaps, is the introduction of the "encore editorial" wedding photography package—for newlyweds who seek an overall destination experience with an editorialized postwedding shoot. "It's like an encore to the wedding day," explains Meekins. "It's something that we started because there are only so many photos you can do with a couple on a wedding day."

How We Started
The friendship sprouted organically for eight years before the business became official in 2013. Esposito already had a thriving photography background, while Meekins would work on the side as a secondary photographer for her friend. "I decided to slowly leave the magazine world behind and we rebranded Gina's business to Anée Atelier," says Meekins. "We picked it up and rebranded it in New York City and we've been full steam ahead as partners ever since."

Why Weddings?
Once the business was established, the two were asked to shoot a multicultural destination wedding with Nigerian and American traditions. "It was an actual 17-hour shoot day. It was a multi-ceremony, multicultural wedding in Dubai," recalls Esposito. "It was the most incredible thing I had ever seen but I would say that that was probably the longest and most demanding and most rewarding wedding that we shot early on in our partnership," she adds. 

What We're Changing
The two are extending wedding photography experience with the introduction of "Encore Editorial" sessions. For couples who savor the engagement photo experience, imagine a beautiful locale where the wedding weekend is completed with you and your partner in gorgeous attire to remember the geographic significance. "We started these things that we call 'encore editorials' where it's kind of mixing a postwedding portrait shoot with the couple in an editorial-style photoshoot," Meekins explains. 

As the business concept gains momentum, Anée Atelier has been approached by couples of varying backgrounds and love of specific regions. One shoot, for example, required nine gowns and looks across Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, the Dead Sea and the Negev Desert. "To round it back out that moment of being in the middle of the desert with this couple on a camel was a very like 'pinch me' moment of our skills coming together and us doing the best of what we do,'" Meekins reflects. "The photography is our first love and that's at the core of who we are, but also using our other skills and visions to pull together something… that's out of this world, that feels like the cover of a magazine for a real couple, something they'll cherish for life, is really us pulling together the best of all that we can do. That's just one of our pinnacles as a career highlight for us—thus far."

One Way We're Different
One way the pair combats the very ideals of what wedding vendors should "be" is how they dress for events. "When the wedding is of blushes and ivories and the vendors are in all black, you stand out like a sore thumb when you're in the background of a shot," says Meekins. "For that reason, we approach it in a way of kind of thoughtfully-curating outfits that blend in with the guests and that allow us to still move and lay across the floor or squat if we need to to get a shot." 

Such attention to detail sends a message to not only couples, but wedding guests and entire wedding parties. "The message is we're partnering…  and it helps them relax," says Meekins. "They forget that you are the camera and they feel like… You really immerse in the experience where that kind of helps us do what we need to do in order to make people feel comfortable and be themselves and to relax."

Our Message, Our Platform for the Next Generation
"There's a quote: 'Your talent will not take you where your character cannot keep you,'" says Esposito. "It is a mantra, it is a life[style], it is a life quote. There are some people who inherently possess that ability to know, 'I am ready for this, I know I can handle it.'"

"We believe wholeheartedly in excellence and I think there's a reality that excellence costs you something. Excellence costs you extra time, extra money, extra investment," adds Meekins. "The hyper intentionality, it absolutely costs you something and I think in today's world there are a lot of messages out there, especially on social media… I think there's not enough messaging kind of supporting people who do the slow and steady climb because all of those incremental lessons you learn along the way as you're being excellent, as you're being intentional, they all serve you well in the end."

Chip Dizárd Photography

Put Chip Dizárd in any party setting and he will, most certainly, be located in the middle of the space capturing the scene, while vibrating energy and emanating brightness himself. "If you see my images, you'll see part of me in them," he says. "I'm very gregarious, and a fun person. I like to party."  Couples (and fellow pros) will find Dizárd in the thick of it all, shooting lively images front and center, or being the life of the party at an industry event. 

"You have to be comfortable not only in your own skin, but you have to be comfortable in your own ability," he says. "I teach that… You can't fool yourself. When you have the opportunity and it comes, you have to be confident in order to execute."

How I Started
Dizárd, surprisingly, found his career path in church a decade ago, when he was part of the visuals and photography team. In 2010, a member of the congregation asked Dizárd to document his upcoming wedding. "He didn't tell me his was a concert wedding," he laughs. "And it was two hours."

Details aside, the wedding gained enough traction to launch the photographer's career. "The groom became my business advisor," Dizárd says. "Fast forward to 2015 when I went full-time. I was a teacher with a background in education, who taught photography and videography in high schools and at the college level. During the six weeks of vacation, I started doing weddings." 

From there, his business grew with Dizárd launching into industry education in 2017. Despite his numerous successes and industry influence, Dizárd continues to see through the lens of one particular direction. "I haven't made it," he muses, "but I know I've crossed a milestone. And when you cross a milestone, you know there's no going back."

Why Weddings?
"The challenge of capturing someone's special day is hard," Dizárd says. "But I'm more of a challenge kind-of-guy, and I like weddings for the challenge [they create]. I like creating images that are timeless… those images that people will look at 20 years from now, and people will say, 'Wow. We did that.' And I'm hoping to do that for a generation of people."

What I'm Changing
"I'm just changing the way I capture a story," he says. "The more I've done this, the more I have creative control over my work. I may compose and light differently, based on where I want more creative control."

My Message, My Platform for the Next Generation 
What sets Dizárd apart from his peers in the business is his focus on education and networking. "Accolades are good," he reflects. "But when you help somebody and they can move forward, that's the stuff that will live forever and live way beyond an award. When somebody says, 'Your work is good, but your mentee's work is really, really great,' that's a compliment to me. That means a lot to me. That's not just talking."

Elizabeth Austin Photography

Elizabeth Austin didn't intend to start a business, but after assisting another pro for one wedding, she discovered a new career trajectory. Austin, who considers her work as part-fine arts, part-documentary-style, is based in Atlanta, but shoots events and weddings all over the world. "What I strive for so that 20 years from now a couple can look into their wedding album and it looks just as relevant as it did today," she reflects. "So I like clean, minimalist in terms of the way that I like to pose couples and that's how I would describe my aesthetic."
 
She's highly in-demand among engaged couples and planners throwing luxury events, and it's because Austin embodies what pros do best. "Even if it's me putting down my camera and helping a bridesmaid into her dress, I feel like those moments make me feel like I'm in the right career," she says.

How I Started
"It was really random," she says. "I was doing family and newborn portraits and I wasn't really happy. And my friend, a photographer, was doing his friend's wedding. He was like 'I need another photographer to help me.' And I was a second shooter for him. The rest… was history."

Why Weddings?
"From that whole experience, it was the love in the room and the air," she recalls of her first wedding. "I was like 'If I'm gonna spend time away from my family, I love this.' It's a positive space."

What I'm Changing
The importance in Austin's work also encompasses the clients she welcomes. "Over time, it evolved into more of a mission to provide really beautiful images to families and then even more of a mission of showcasing [clients of all backgrounds]: African-Americans, interracial couples and minority couples, in a luxury way," she notes. "That became part of my mission. It evolved over time, but it all started with a friend inviting me to shoot and I'm so thankful for that cause it's been years now, being in the industry."

One valued difference is Austin's emphasis on the quieter, intimate moments of the day. "When I capture my couples' photos, I don't allow anyone in so that they have that moment, and we ensure that they have that on their wedding day," Austin explains. "When I document those types of moments, it makes me realize, 'This is where I'm supposed to be.' I go to work and I'm happy and it makes me happy even when it's chaotic."

My Message, My Platform for the Next Generation
"Your fear is not always the truth, and that you have to continue to push forward—knowing you're good enough for whatever blessing can come out of your business," she says. "Just taking that leap and saying, 'I'm going to do this and I'm going to make this financial investment and just jump'—I feel like that's the best advice that I could give because we can be stuck inside of our heads a lot."

Kirth Bobb Photography

Glance over D.C.-based photographer Kirth Bobb's work, and a range of emotions, from curiosity to hope, even sorrow, will be felt. "My style is humanistic," says Bobb. "I draw from a tradition of photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Dorothea Lange, where it's not about the effect, but it's about the relationship and the experience people are having. It's humanistic, it's grounded, and it's visceral… I want people to feel something." 

He pauses: "And to do that, I have to feel something."

How I Started and Why Weddings?
From deep grief came a new career for the Guyanese-American photographer. "When my wife and I were getting married, it was a storm where two of the most important people in our lives died," he recalls. "We didn't wait to marry. We did it. In that time, there was a photograph that my wife had of me and my grandmother. Around the same time, we were burying her father. To this day, it's still the most important photograph I have. And it was then when I realized that what I'm doing at weddings has nothing to do with the commercial aspect of it (the venue, and the beauty, and the opulence). It's about the people, the experiences and the relationships."

For Bobb, weddings represent the best of humanity and relationships. "I can't just make pictures just for the sake of making pictures," he says. "I'm not much of a crier, but my heart… I feel my heartstrings pull when I experience relationships and families, hope and joy, and all these other things that regardless of where life takes these people, there's solid evidence that they experienced this moment together."

What I'm Changing in Weddings
Bobb's line of work showcases, in the most simplistic of terms, human connection. "There's a shared value around the preciousness of life, the preciousness of truth and storytelling," he muses. "I tend to work with a lot of artists, a lot of entrepreneurs, a lot of people who've dug into this life a bit and are journeying so to speak, who are intentional about everything."

"The message is to remember why, as a species and as a culture, we decide to get together. Weddings are a message of love," he says. "I don't think you can find a tradition or a culture in our humanity that weddings [don't touch]… It's almost like two funerals and one birth. That's what it symbolizes."

"With wedding photography, specifically, there is an established aesthetic. I want to change it," he concludes. "I want to influence the aesthetic, but I want everyone to try to influence the aesthetic. Because all of our experiences are so rich and unique that aesthetics could really just be global, and more inclusive by default, because it shows everyone."

What Differentiates My Business
For Bobb, his practice and his work alone are innovation. "It's simply by doing the work that I do," he says. "I'm innovating because I'm practicing photography outside of the wedding industry. Outside of the aesthetic, outside of the ideas of what it should be and shouldn't be. I think my innovation is just my work and the intention that I bring behind my work."

"It took me a while to get there from transitioning from a business to a practice," he adds. "Sure, I do it to exchange value, but it's a practice. The clients and the people I do work for, I know that the memories are going to mean something to them in the future, and something to the people who come after them."

My Message, My Platform for the Next Generation
"Your life, as it is, is where you should do the deepest work," says Bobb. "Use your gift to highlight the beauty [where you are], because if you try to create from an aesthetic, it's empty. Intention is messy because… I find that as many beautiful photographs I've made, I've made an equal amount or even more horrible photographs. That's part of it."

Mo Davis Photography

There's family-style catering options, but how about family-style photography? For Moesia Davis, the mastermind behind Mo Davis Photography, family comes first in her work as a wedding photographer. "I've always loved photography," Davis says. "Looking back at all the family photos and all the portraits, I didn't realize that I was the person who'd taken them all." 

The photographer, who's based in New Orleans, takes a classic, relationship-first approach to her work. "I'm comfortable in my skin at a wedding, I love being around families," she says. "I have a huge family: my mom has seven sisters and one brother, while my dad grew up with eight brothers and five sisters. And so, I've always been around people, and weddings are a huge family reunion that you get to do every weekend. That's the way I've always looked at it."

How I Started
Prior to entering the weddings space, Davis worked in catering, which opened the door to food styling, then to photography. "The caterer was like, 'You need to be doing this full-time. You're really good,'" she recalls. "And so, I decided to basically work for a photographer." 

For close to five years, Davis worked as a second shooter for an established pro in the industry, shooting close to 40 weddings a year. "After about four years, I decided, 'It's time for me to start my own business.' And so that was around 2016 and that's basically how I got started," she notes.

Why Weddings?
"People ask me all the time, 'Do you get sick of weddings?' And I don't, because I'm a believer of love and I love telling a love story. And I was always taught to shoot the world as you see it. And not only that, pictures should tell a story of how the world is now. And so, I just feel like with everything negative that goes on in life, like weddings were a safe place for me: I knew there would be kissing, I knew there would be dancing, I knew people would be hugging. I knew that I would be seen in my best light."

What I'm Changing
There's power in the first look and other one-off wedding moments, but that requires an eye for emotion—and real conversation. Davis is thriving because of her "organic" style imagery, and it starts with the first look. She's the temperature setter for the couple before they even walk down the aisle. 

"I love a first look, because that's a moment you feel like the bride and groom have so much control of their emotions versus if you're standing there and she's coming down the aisle and you're seeing her before 100 people," explains Davis. "I can completely tell the difference. They speak more, he tells her how beautiful she looks. Conversations like, 'What have you been doing all morning?' and 'Your hair looks good.' They're just standing there basically asking each other questions. With: 'This is how I imagined it would look,' there's so much intimacy, so much."

What Makes My Business Different
For Davis, the formula is straightforward: Like salt and pepper, her style is classic and timeless. "I want to have longevity and I want to be in this business for a long time," she says. "I want you to be able to look at your wedding photos 50 years from now. I've never considered myself to be a trendy photographer."

My Message, My Platform for the Next Generation
"It's a lot of hard work," admits Davis. "I've been in this game 15 years, it doesn't come overnight. It's a lot of sacrifice, it's a lot of long nights, it's a lot of money… to invest in the equipment." With the realistic experience she communicates, Davis encourages those with a passion for the art to pursue it. "Don't get discouraged… I've been told 'no' so many times," she says. "Believe in the product, believe in the person, and...and once that happens, I mean everything else is completely up to you."

What's Been on My Heart
"I'm not gonna say it's long overdue, like the respect that we've [recently] been given… but in a way, it kind of is," Davis concludes. "It feels good people are finally reaching out. Like I said, we don't wanna be hired because we are Black [wedding] vendors. We just don't want to be overlooked because we're Black vendors."

She adds, "The pot is heavy, there is enough for everybody. I think people don't realize that. For example, you go to New York City and there's a Starbucks on every corner, and New York can do that because there's enough people to actually spend the money to buy coffee on every corner."

Something Davis has appreciated the most is a simple message. "Some don't even know what to say. I've been receiving texts that basically say, 'I see you,'" she concludes. "And I think that's the most powerful thing that you can say. Just say that you see us. That's it."

Stanlo Photography

Adventure is Stanley Babb's first love; capturing couples in the midst of far-flung destinations is what the industry loves most about him. Babb is known for attracting powerful clientele who want their photos to represent a sense of time and space. "I like epic portraits," explains Babb. "So I go for the most amazing backgrounds. I'll hike an hour or two if I have to get there. Like my couples, they really go for it. I had a shoot where we traveled nine hours to get to the desert in Morocco."

Babb's love of adventure stems from his childhood and exploring the world with his parents. "I loved traveling so much and… I don't really like landscape photography. I take my couples and capture a place, like trademark that particular place, versus just taking a regular picture of the actual place." 

How I Started
While Babb's exploration of photography started early, it wasn't until he started getting paid by friends for imagery that he realized how to extend his passion into a full-fledged career. "I actually sold one of my cameras and tried to upgrade it, and made a friend [in the process]," he recalls. "And he was like, 'Hey, you have a real good eye. You need to shoot some weddings with me.' So I shot two weddings with him and fell in love with weddings. I didn't wanna shoot anything else."

What Was a "Pinch Me" Moment in the Industry?
Given his vast following, it was only a matter of time before Babb would be tapped to shoot a celeb wedding; in fact, he was the name behind Safaree and Erica Mena's 2019 nuptials. "It was one of the most like 'pinch me' moments as far as weddings go," he says. "You kind of see them on TV like all of the time, like 'Oh my God, I captured that wedding.'"

Why Weddings?
"I went to college for IT and I had to basically choose between weddings and my career," he recalls. "At my other job, [I would be doing] the same thing over and over… Whereas, if I had to shoot weddings and shoot the same thing over and over the same venue, the same...like I wouldn't like it." But what Babb gets is a variety of clients, backgrounds and styles. 

"Every wedding is different… Across the world, every person is different and you have different traditions," he notes. "You have Indian weddings, you have African weddings that I do a lot of now, Haitian weddings. The differences, that's what really drives me. Every wedding is just different. Different people, different reactions… So that's what really drives me, to be able to create something new every time."

What I'm Changing
Destination shoots and how they're executed are Babb's specialty. In his case, his clientele really seeks a choose-your-own-adventure-style shoot. "If a client emails me now, most of the time, they're asking, 'Hey, I want something amazing, you pick the place.' They're like 'You pick the place,'" says Babb. In short: his clients are willing to pay for travel, stay and the expenses all in exchange for high-quality, editorialized imagery that lasts for generations to come. 

My Message, My Platform for the Next Generation
"Keep trying to create relationships, keep focusing on expanding your network," he advises. "That is the only way I've gotten to where I've gotten here. It's so important."

Terri Baskin

Joyful, romantic and of-the-moment imagery is D.C.-based photographer Terri Baskin's specialty. In 2012, Baskin was asked to shoot an engagement session, which turned into a request to be the lead wedding photographer for the same couple. Weddings, coincidentally, run in the family. "My dad was a wedding photographer when I was growing up, so I was always surrounded by events," she says. "That was my first exposure to wedding photography."

How I Started
After wrapping grad school in 2009, Baskin gifted herself a camera, which ultimately resulted in two friends approaching her with an opportunity of a lifetime. "My first engagement session had turned into my first wedding before I had ever shot a wedding," she laughs. "My dad came along as my second shooter… He helped me through it." 

Why Weddings?
"Wedding days are busy, long, but they're fun!" Baskin enthusiastically reflects. "You have standard parts of a wedding, but cultures are different, celebrations are different, the couples are different, and that's what makes it exciting each time."

In 2018, Baskin was hired to shoot a special wedding where she found herself capturing dignitaries as guests. "The power of relationships is having your name shared when you're not in the room," she says. "I had a couple two years ago who both worked for the Obama administration. That's how they met, that's how they fell in love, and their florist recommended me. They were the sweetest couple yet they were so connected. It was a surreal moment to be in the room with high profile people from Congress. In the DC market, that was really special."

What I'm Changing
For Baskin, her photos must evoke emotion—with an editorial twist. "Is it romantic? Is it joyful?" she asks. "I want people to see the emotion in the image… That comes with how I style details and direction." As a photographer based in the nation's capital, Baskin has sought out spaces for couples who want the D.C. look and feel—without overdone and posed imagery. 

What Makes Her Business Different
"I take pride in educating my clients through the process, from the engagement session to the wedding day to the day they're designing their album," she says. "I would tell a newer photographer to know why they're in the business and why they're photographing the couples that they photograph… I tell a story with every couple and whatever their uniqueness is."

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