How I became a wedding photographer

photo by sam hassas

photo by sam hassas

My fascination with photography came hand in hand with my growing love for travel back in 2004. I lived in Egypt for a year and was fortunate enough to explore around Egypt, the Middle East, and parts of Europe.

Now I didn’t have a “fancy camera”, and this is even well before smartphones. I just had a lame old 2 megapixel Nikon point-and-shoot. At the time, I took the typical tourist “here I am standing in front of the pyramids” photo. And, “here is a bowl of hummus I ate” and “this here is a donkey pulling a fruit cart”. They were to document that I was there, to show what I did, or to capture something hilarious.

But on a specific trip through Syria, I began to see things a little differently by way of my traveling buddy, who, had a film camera and knew how to use it.

I remember watching a concentrated man deep in worship. I remember the joy of seeing those laughing kids on their school field trip to the Citadel of Aleppo. I remember that calming cup of mint tea in the Turkish bath house. I remember looking through a broken window of a destroyed home in Golan Heights and wondering, who lived here?

A photograph has the power to really move you and implant a lasting memory. Since then, I aspired to create photos that make you feel, and can take you to a different time and place.

“So how did you end up shooting weddings? Why are you not shooting for National Geographic?”

Really I had no ambitions to be a professional photographer at all. It’s not exactly a highly coveted career path for South Asian males born to immigrant parents. So I graduated from UCSD with degrees in electrical engineering and political science and worked in tech for a while. Like a good Pakistani boy should!

But traveling extensively for work rekindled that desire to document through the lens yet again. I went to Asia and Europe frequently and packed my Canon Rebel xTi, always making time to get out into the city I was in. I was fascinated by how people in different parts of our world lived, and I wanted to share that with folks back home.

Fast forward to 2010, and a friend of mine asked me to take some photos of his small wedding. It was a Vietnamese tea ceremony followed by a traditional Islamic ceremony. And it was amazing to be a behind-the-scenes observer of a wedding. Never experienced that before! For a day (or a week if you are South Asian), you step into someone else’s world, witness a new beautiful union, and eat really good food.

Weddings to me are like a mini trip away from home.

And in 2011, I did what anyone in Silicon Valley only dreams of doing; I mustered up the courage to leave my day job and build a business around what I was truly passionate about. Since then, I’ve met some really interesting people from all walks of life and have been welcomed and honored to document their most special and intimate moments.

As your wedding photographer, my job is to give you a way to enjoy your most important and personal relationships in a beautiful and meaningful way.