Hi, I’m Shannon. My pronouns are they/them. I’ve been photographing weddings, families, and portraits in the Philadelphia area for +13 years. Philadelphia Magazine just named me Best Photographer for Best of Philly 2022, for my work as Founder and photographer of Youthphoria.
As someone who photographs milestones, I document candid moments as they happen. I like telling the genuine story, imperfections and all. That doesn’t mean I won’t be there to help keep everything running smoothly and assist in offering poses that feel natural to you.
Who is the human behind the lens?
I live in the suburbs with my ginger-haired partner (Pete) and our two young kids. We also reside with a dachshund named Dexter and an 18-year-old chinchilla named Maude. When I’m not taking photos of people who love each other, I can be found overwatering my plants, trying to feel in control by creating checklists, taking anti-racism courses, connecting with community through Mighty Networks memberships, and listening to podcasts. I identify as non-binary, queer, Autistic, and disabled and diversify my media feed to reflect these identities and learn more about how I can better serve my community, through intersectionality and the amplification of BIPOC voices. I’m fully vaccinated and mask up indoors and outdoors when unable to socially distance, due to COVID-19.
I’m also the founder of Youthphoria, a Philadelphia-based project dedicated to photographing trans, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming youth in the Philadelphia area at no cost, while providing an affirming experience that celebrates them along the way.
There is beauty in shared vulnerability.
I fully believe if I want to create safer spaces for my clients, I need to be vulnerable as well. [Content warning for health-related trauma in the paragraph ahead].
I’ve been asked “what happens if you get sick and you can’t photograph my session?” from potential clients dozens of times over the past +10 years. Years ago, I used to boast about how I’d never missed a wedding and even worked while having pneumonia a handful of times. After perfect attendance for years, I found myself having a baby during peak wedding season, along with unexpected brain surgery two years later. This meant briefly leaning on my network of photographer friends to pass the work along to them. I’ve always been incredibly transparent with clients, since so much of my business is sharing myself so we can build trust.
There are many articles for engaged folks who are planning their wedding, with questions to ask potential photographers. I don’t blame people for inquiring about a backup plan in the worst-case scenario, in fact, I think it’s smart. But, to set these expectations that we as vendors aren’t humans — who get sick, who may be chronically ill, or disabled — is ableist behavior. Pushing through pain and fatigue is part of any physical job to a certain extent, but we shouldn’t have to fear sharing our vulnerabilities. I have friends who have had gigs taken away from them because their main shooter wanted someone younger, healthier, “better.” There’s always this feeling that I’m going to soon “age out” of the wedding industry as a photographer. I think much of that is my fear of no longer being relevant. My grey hair catching up to me. The age spots under my eyes revealed.
If you’ve ever felt this way — like you have to hide your migraine behind a forced smile or your panic attack behind a mask or that you are not enough — you are not alone. These are not failures. There are so many of us working while chronically ill or disabled, and that in and of itself is activism. I am always here to support you in any way you need (within our own boundaries) during our time together.
Going through these life-changing experiences led me to focus on what mattered most to me — placing value on my time. Apart from the obvious things like my family and health, I wanted to strengthen the foundation of my photography business and focus on my brand values.
Normalizing joy as resistance.
Photographing intimate weddings has always been at the core of who I am as a wedding photographer. It allows me to photograph the most intimate form of a celebration over the span of a few hours and gives me the space to rest and embrace my own joy and love for my family. Too often, the life of a wedding photographer means packing your weekends with triple-headers to meet the needs of clients, while feeling like you can’t come up for air along the way. I’m privileged in that all of this has given me the opportunity to slow down and embrace the quiet moments of a City Hall elopement or backyard wedding. It’s something that not only allows me to care for my clients fully, but also myself, my family, and my community. I no longer have to worry about burnout or fatigue from 12-hour editing days. Instead, I am intentional with the amount of clients I work with, and really value those relationships along the way.
I’m committed to collaborating with marginalized communities and working to amplify the voices that too often go unheard — through their love stories and by normalizing the many ways joy can look.
Folks always email me in advance, warning me they’re “awkward” in front of the camera and don’t know what to do. I’m there to help you grow more comfortable and focus on enjoying our time together. You may feel nervous or anxious, and that is completely valid. I try to make our experience together an empowering one, affirming you and making space for you to be a part of the process. Just as a heads up, there’s a 99.5% chance my glasses will be steaming up or I’ll be tripping over a rock while making a joke you’ll probably feel obligated to laugh at (thank you). I try to make my clients more at ease by finding the perfect balance of using conversation as distraction and quiet moments as connection. You have the option to pause or stop at any time, your comfort is my top priority.
Blurring the binary.
As an intimate wedding photographer, I aim to create a more affirming experience for my clients. Please find out more about my brand values by visiting this link.
Let’s get to know each other.
As someone who has anxiety, I understand how you may feel discomfort or awkwardness approaching a photography session. It can be intimidating having someone take photos of you if you’ve never met before, which is why I try to make it more comfortable for everyone by getting to know each other leading up to our shoot. I will probably follow you on Instagram if you’re on social media and your boundaries allow, so we aren’t strangers. We’ll exchange emails leading up to the day about logistics and details, including a questionnaire where I’ll gather details about who you are and what you’re looking for out of our experience together. We’ll probably also swap stories about our favorite plants, what we’re watching, or the podcasts on our feed. I really enjoy getting to know my clients personally, I find it really helps to tell your whole story and connect on another level.