Text by Elizabeth Friszell • Images by Ryan Joseph
"I am inspired by their ability to portray the emotion of their subjects," he says. "I try to instill that in my photographs."
One of the greatest influences on Joseph's work came from the legendary Henri Cartier-Bresson. The 1930s French photographer coined the phrase "the decisive moment" to explain how successful photographs combined content and composition.
In his 1952 book, Cartier-Bresson described this process as "the simultaneous recognition in a fraction of a second of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms." This expression became one of the most well-known descriptions of the quick and candid aspects of photojournalism.
"Simplified in my own way, it's the split second of capturing one moment that means everything. That's what I so respect," Joseph says. "And to be as precise back then with the cameras that were available . . . it's just astounding. Think of what those photographers could accomplish today. Think of what those images would look like if they were digital. Would it have the same effect? I don't know."
Old-School Digital"I keep the old classics in mind, but have the desire to stay current with my art—always open to being inspired—not just by photography, but by the creative process in general."
Joseph leaves one with many questions to ponder. But what can be answered is this: the equipment today rocks, in 21st century vernacular. He calls his style of shooting "old-school digital" because while it is digital, it has the flare of film.
"If I couldn't do it in the analog, film world, I will not do it in the digital world," he says. "In other words, there should be no indication that it was shot digitally. Digital photography is a modern medium for my art, giving me more control over prints. It's a different road to the same place."
Drawing upon his experience in the darkroom, he still creates vignetting and sloppy borders, and other effects. "I just don't take it too far. I keep the old classics in mind, but have the desire to stay current with my art—always open to being inspired—not just by photography, but by the creative process in general."
And his equipment helps him to achieve his goals. Joseph shoots with two Canon EOS 1Ds and one Canon 10D, with many lens options (see Gear Box for full description). For post-production needs, an Apple Mac G5 and Epson 2200 give him the quality, color management, and prints his customers expect.
Joseph is grateful for the luxury of equipment today, but now he directs his images more than ever before. "I'd be lying if I said that technology has not greatly aided the industry in the way we capture images. However, it ultimately comes down to the person behind the lens."
His style is more fine art with a documentary edge to it. Joseph is hesitant to call it either fine art or documentary style; it's a blend of both. His style lends a fashion feel to it, one that definitely mimics old-time beauty.
Timely & Timeless
Whether he's photographing domestically or out of the U.S., Joseph allows plenty of time to get comfortable with his wedding site. For weddings in Italy, Scotland, and Hawaii, he has typically arrived a day early to prepare and attend to last-minute details. For in-town weddings, he gets there two to three hours before ceremony time because "how the day starts really dictates how it will unfold from there, beginning to end."
"You can be the world's best photographer, but if your clients don't feel comfortable with you on a personal level, they won't let you in emotionally."
His clients get full personal interaction. "I routinely schedule consultations with potential clients, not just for them to meet me, but also for me to get to know them, their thoughts, and their vision of the day," Joseph says.
About 10 days before the wedding, he meets the couple again, by phone or in person, depending on proximity, to discuss the details and confirm times and locations.