Milla C. Photography » documentary wedding photography by Milla and Brad Chappell

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Hi friends. One week ago today I was packing my bags to head home from the wonderful experience that was The Foundation Workshop. It is difficult to fully process an experience like FW, not to speak of trying to explain it in words. But, I want to try to write out a few things while it’s still somewhat fresh on my mind.

My assignment at the FW was to find a story within a specific place. I was tasked with getting to know strangers while photographing them and learning about their stories, and I was personally challenged by my team leaders to grow bolder and to start understanding composition and light on a different level.

At the end of the week, each student presented a slideshow of the work completed during the week, and while I was deeply proud of the work I produced, I still haven’t shown it to anyone outside of the workshop, as I know that it won’t be fully understood in the context of what I was personally learning when each photo was taken. But, I do want to show three photos that I think were pivotal moments in my understanding of three things: seeing light, moving away from fear, and being persistent in capturing moments. I have given the photos in that specific order.

The Foundation Workshop is organized and overseen by many wonderful folks, but Huy Nguyen of F8 Studio West is the brains behind the idea of the workshop that allows wedding photographers to work in photojournalistic projects as they learn to see and shoot differently. So, thanks Huy, for everything. Also, thank you David Murray, Becca Spears, Ray Soemarsono, and Erwin Darmali for your personal attention and instruction.

Truly… what I learned last week has changed how I see everything around me. I am very grateful.

  • February 11, 2011 - 12:25 pm

    Mary - Love them, Milla! You rocked your assignment!ReplyCancel

  • February 11, 2011 - 1:20 pm

    Wes Harkins - Wow…Wow…truly amazing in every way, Milla A definite look and “feel” to each one. “Seeing the light” is obvious in each one. I look forward to seeing the others. These really make me smile!!ReplyCancel

  • February 11, 2011 - 1:59 pm

    David Murray - Oh Milla, can you please put the opening image on as well? I so love that photo!



  • February 11, 2011 - 9:04 pm

    Huy Nguyen - I love your spirit Milla :)ReplyCancel

  • February 11, 2011 - 9:34 pm

    Katia - Milla!These are so wonderful!They really caught my eye! I love them all!ReplyCancel

  • February 13, 2011 - 7:34 pm

    Jenny J - Gorgeous Milla! I can’t stop looking at that first one.ReplyCancel

  • February 14, 2011 - 9:20 am

    Christina Montemurro - Wow, Milla! These are fantastic. Each one is excellent, but the first is my favorite. You completely achieved your goal.ReplyCancel

  • February 14, 2011 - 1:57 pm

    Jenny DeMarco - Beautiful, just beautiful! I loved your project. Way to go!ReplyCancel

When someone says they are a wedding photojournalist, what does that actually mean?

If you have interviewed photographers lately, you have probably heard this word used over and over, accompanied by other words such as “candid” “unobtrusive” and “real.” But, for those of us who haven’t ever worked for a newspaper, who haven’t been sent on assignment with only a camera and notebook, and who don’t have degrees in photojournalism, this word is often overused and even misunderstood.

So, then, we are faced with the dilemma: how can wedding photographers who love the idea of story-telling, wide composition, real moments, raw emotion and risk-taking but who haven’t had a background in photojournalism make this term more real and useful and honest in practice?

One option is to attend the Foundation Workshop. The Foundation Workshop is called “the original, most challenging photojournalism workshop for wedding photographers” and it aims to help wedding photographers see and shoot more like photojournalists.

Today I am leaving Pittsburgh and traveling to Austin TX to work one-on-one with some of the top photojournalists in the field in an effort to better understand how to create incredible images that capture the true story of each wedding day. I will be shooting assignments on my own, going through public critiques, and learning to apply photojournalistic principles to the wedding day. The workshop is geared towards wedding photographers, but the assignments are totally unrelated to the work that we’re used to in order to push us from our comfort zones and force us to look at things differently.

While I’m there, I am hoping to gain a greater sense of creativity and boldness in my approach to photography. And, when I return, I look forward to saying with a deeper sense of understanding that, yes, I am a wedding photojournalist.

I’ll try to keep you updated on my progress at some point during the week, but in the meantime, you can enjoy one of my favorite story-telling shots from Jennifer and Jarrett’s wedding.

And, if you’re interested in a small taste of what we’ll be doing this coming week, you can check out this short video that Vladimir Chaloupka put together after last year’s workshop.


I love non-traditional bridal portraits, those that are the most natural, unposed, those taken when the bride doesn’t even know I’m taking them. In this portrait, Joanna had just put on her dress and veil and was getting everything situated with the help of her bridesmaids. I love the way the light wraps around her veil and shoulders. You are gorgeous, girl!

  • January 28, 2011 - 4:21 pm

    Joanna - Milla!! This is one of my favorites :) This just shows how truly talented you are!! You’re the best! Thank you for everything :) xoxoReplyCancel

  • January 28, 2011 - 4:49 pm

    ellie - loving this new photo-of-the-day thing!ReplyCancel

This photo was taken in the tiny little bride’s room in Heinz Chapel. Julia’s dress was hanging on the mirror and she was getting ready with her bridesmaids in the background. I was waiting, hoping to catch a glimpse of her in the mirror when she leaned over to grab something out of her bag and her silhouette was perfectly illuminated by the lamp behind her. Yes!


This one has been on the blog before but I am posting it again because it’s one of my all-time favorites. Ashley… either your makeup process was very boring or facebook was very interesting! :)

  • January 25, 2011 - 10:48 am

    michele bowman - that’s funny stuff right there!ReplyCancel

  • January 25, 2011 - 11:41 am

    Kelly - That picture is the BEST!

    Found your blog from a co-worker of mine you photographed. Just wanted to say I enjoy your work, you take really creative pictures. And the photo of the day feature is a great idea, keep it up!ReplyCancel

  • January 25, 2011 - 12:13 pm

    Stephanie - Do I know anyone in that picture?ReplyCancel

  • January 26, 2011 - 9:26 am

    Milla - Not that I know of… ?ReplyCancel

Christy and Jared had a beautiful New Year wedding at Pittsburgh’s Grand Hall at the Priory. These two are neighbors and friends as well as clients, so it was especially meaningful for us to be part of the celebration.

Special thanks to Mary Schwarz from Birchtree Photography. Mary is a friend and colleague who assisted me and Brad at this wedding and provided many of these beautiful images!

  • January 24, 2011 - 5:21 pm

    Christy - Milla, Brad, and Mary, As always your work is amazing! We can’t thank you enough for capturing the energy and beauty of the day.ReplyCancel

  • January 24, 2011 - 5:21 pm

    Christy - Milla, Brad, and Mary, As always your work is amazing! We can’t thank you enough for capturing the energy and beauty of the day.ReplyCancel

Today I have been looking back through the images from last year, reflecting on the work that we produced. And, I was struck by how many amazing clients we worked with, how many beautiful/fun/hilarious/sweet/meaningful images we captured, how many wonderful wedding stories we told through photography, and how fortunate we are to have this wonderful job of documenting life.

Many of my favorite images from 2010 were never posted here for various reasons, one of those being my lack of blogging in general, but mainly I think that looking back on the year, the photos that make me laugh and cry and relive the day aren’t the stereotypical portraits and ceremony photos but are the smaller details of the day that were captured when no one knew we were taking them.

So, I am going to start a photo of the day series here on the blog where I post those photos… the small things, the emotional moments, the hilarious interactions that we have the great privilege of documenting every weekend.

I am calling today’s photo “the meltdown” – and really, it needs no more explanation!

  • January 20, 2011 - 3:49 pm

    Mary - Ha ha ha, I love this, Milla!ReplyCancel

  • January 21, 2011 - 12:30 am

    Melissa Chappell - classic.ReplyCancel

I am so excited to post one of my favorite weddings from last year – Anne and JT’s beautiful Heinz Chapel wedding and Duquesne Club reception.

Anne and JT’s wedding was elegant, classy, and FUN! Their family and friends were wonderful to be around, and we thoroughly enjoyed being part of the celebration. Thanks Anne and JT for asking us to document your beautiful event.

Here are a few photos from their big day:

  • December 30, 2010 - 10:58 pm

    Katia Forero - Beautiful Milla!as always!I love the detail pictures…how gorgeous!Have a wonderful new year!ReplyCancel

  • January 3, 2011 - 11:50 am

    Milla - Thank you Katia!! I really appreciate it… happy new year to you!ReplyCancel

  • January 17, 2011 - 7:12 am

    Digital Backround Gal - These are all so beautiful…love your style!!ReplyCancel

Becca and Matt have one of the sweetest engagement stories I’ve ever heard. It begins with a long walk around the city and ends on the North Shore with a diamond ring in an easter egg. So, for their engagement photos, we went to the very spot where Matt asked Becca to be his wife!

Thank you both for being flexible and waiting for beautiful weather for our session… it was an absolute joy to be around you both a little bit and learn about your story.

Here are a few of our favorites from the day!

  • December 17, 2010 - 10:45 pm

    Beth - Milla, you’re awesome! These are fantastic!ReplyCancel

  • December 20, 2010 - 11:15 am

    Hannah - Beautiful people, beautiful photos!!! Milla, awesome job, it makes me smile to see your pictures and the love you capture, i keep coming back to your blog cuz i love it!!!!ReplyCancel

Deanna and AJ are amazing… they survived the cold, rain, and snow to come outside for engagement photos in downtown Pittsburgh! And when I say cold… I mean cold! It was about 14 degrees during our session!

Deanna and AJ are sweet, fun, and very in love with each other, and I had a great time documenting their goofiness (in Deanna’s words, not mine!). :) Thanks, guys, for being so wonderful to work with. I had such a great time and am really looking forward to the big day.

Here are a few of my favorites from their session:

  • December 16, 2010 - 4:31 pm

    Mary - Love these, Milla! I don’t know how they did that without any coats on! Congrats to the lovely couple!ReplyCancel

  • December 17, 2010 - 7:32 am

    Stephanie - I love all the glittery lights in the background. Very well done! And her ring is gorgeous!ReplyCancel

Hello again, sweet blog!

As I mentioned in my last post, I am revving the blog back up again after a short haitus. I have been enjoying sharing photos and telling stories on our business facebook page instead of the blog recently, but I don’t want to forget about her completely! So, over the next few weeks, I am going to be posting some of my favorite photos from some fall weddings, engagement sessions, and family portraits that we haven’t blogged yet.

Up next… Maggie and Patrick! Maggie and Patrick are getting married next year at St. Paul’s Cathedral and having a reception at the Pittsburgh Athletic Association, and we are thrilled to be part of their celebration!

Here are a few of my favorite engagement photos from their chilly November session. We started out the morning with waffles and tea at Oh Yeah! coffee in shadyside (one of my absolute favorite Pittsburgh spots). Then, we took a walk around the block to enjoy the fall colors and cool winter air.


  • December 8, 2010 - 10:28 pm

    Heather - LOOOOOVE this session! SO many great ones Milla!!! Just love it!!ReplyCancel

  • December 11, 2010 - 8:38 pm

    Maggie - Woohoo! We made the Blog :-) Fun! We had a blast Milla, thanks so much for capturing it all! XOXO Maggie & PatrickReplyCancel