The Scoop: Julian Ribinik is a wedding photographer in New York City, where he owns a studio with his wife, Evgenia. Julian told us about their style, which integrates the storytelling focus of his background in photojournalism with the elegant and sensual feel of Evgenia’s experience with boudoir photography. Julian urges couples to take the time to research different services and find a photographer they feel connected to and can fully trust to document their day.
Imagine this. You’ve just had the best day ever, getting married to the love of your life, celebrating with friends and family, and breaking it down on the dance floor. The wedding ceremony and reception were full of unforgettable moments that you got to experience alongside the people you love the most.
Now imagine you get the photos back from that day, and they just don’t quite capture the magic. Hiring a trusted photographer who “gets it” is probably one of the smartest decisions you can make when it comes to wedding planning. The caliber of a wedding photographer can not only make or break the day of the wedding, but how you remember it for years to come.
Julian Ribinik, a professional wedding photographer, talked to us about the importance of hiring the right wedding photographer and some trends he’s noticing in wedding photography now. Julian and his wife, Evgenia, have a photography studio based in New York City. Their timeless photography style is deeply influenced by Julian’s time as a photojournalist, and the pair capture weddings as if they were documentarians.
“When I started back in 2002, wedding photography was all the same light and bright and cheesy stuff,” Julian said. “There was no documentary-style wedding photography. I think it speaks to a certain kind of couple who want to capture the day authentically.”
Julian’s Journey to Wedding Photography
Julian was working as a photojournalist in New York City when friends approached him to photograph their wedding. Julian said he was hesitant to shoot a wedding since he didn’t feel connected with the typical style of wedding photography that was prevalent in the early 2000s.
“That took some convincing, but I did it, and they loved it,” Julian said. He took a different approach to photographing his friend’s wedding, departing from the overly staged, impersonal style that was popular among wedding photographers. Instead, he captured the wedding as if he were a documentarian, using the skills he’d developed during his time as a photojournalist.
“I think about my parents’ wedding photos, and it’s just people kind of staring at the camera, dressed strangely, and there’s so little emotion in any of the photos,” Julian said. Julian’s style focuses on capturing candid moments and the atmosphere of the wedding while integrating posed photos that capture the personality of the couple and the day.
After photographing his friend’s wedding, Julian decided he wanted to shift into his new style of wedding photography. When he met his wife, Evgenia, a fellow photographer with a background in boudoir, they combined her dark and moody style with his own. Julian said that his wedding photography style didn’t have a name at the time he started but has since become incredibly popular.
Often referred to as documentary-style wedding photography, the style seeks to capture the story of the day. The photographer takes the position of an unobtrusive witness, taking a few pages from the photo journalism handbook.
The Importance of Choosing The Right Documentarian
Julian said it’s important for couples to take their time choosing a photographer. “When it comes to a budget, it’s important to do your research on the industry standard in the area you live in,” he told us. “Budgets between areas vary a lot, even from city to city and state to state.”
Julian said that couples should become familiar with the range of prices in their area before putting a hard cap on their budget for a photographer. While some photography services may appear to be the best option due to the low price, Julian said couples usually get what they pay for.
“I suggest never setting a budget without doing a lot of research and understanding how much what you actually want will be,” Julian said. “And you want something you’re going to love. If you downgrade and just have something instead of something you love, the experience and end product won’t be great.”
Organizing a wedding is a lot of work, and often, it’s necessary to offload some aspects of the planning. Many couples recruit family and friends to help with planning, and while this can be a great resource, Julian urged couples to be hands-on when it comes to choosing a photographer.
“Don’t go and blindly hire someone just because they did your sister’s wedding or your friend’s wedding,” he said. “And don’t get your parents to pick one and hire them, either. Because mom might love one photographer, and you get the pictures back, and they just aren’t you. It’s disappointing.”
To Julian, a wedding is just too important not to photograph well. And that’s only possible with a good photographer. Julian told us that it goes beyond photography style. A great photographer is one who can understand the couple and the people the couple loves and capture all of them – and the day – in a way that truly reflects the couple.
Embracing An Authentic Photography Style
Julian and Evgenia’s style is marked by bold colors and the black and white backdrop of New York City. Working as a duo for over a decade, the two are always bouncing ideas off each other and developing their sense of what makes a striking photograph. Julian and Evgenia capture each of their clients’ weddings with a sophisticated flair.
The photographer duo’s work is timeless and elegant. While they shoot many weddings in New York City, they frequently travel and shoot weddings across the country and the world. They pride themselves on providing a luxury service that captures the story of the day in a way couples can treasure for years.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced many couples to take creative approaches to their weddings, and since then, more and more couples have rejected the traditional wedding formula. By breaking away from the straight-laced ceremony and predictable reception, couples are infusing their special days with all of the things that make their love theirs.
“Choose a photographer you connect with on a professional and personal level,” Julian said. “Meet them and hear them talk about their work, and see how it feels to be around them. When the big day comes, if there’s no connection, it’s really hard for everyone.”