A regular Joe

Joe photographing a couple kids in the back of the church.

Joe photographing the bride and groom's dog, Bubba Chuck, as he hopped in the bag and got ready to go.

Joe and Megan and Matt during the reception.

Over the years I’ve been blessed with many good breaks. Most recently, throughout the past couple years there are a few that really stand out.

The first was when Joy joined me in the business. She brings an organizational calmness to an incredibly hectic and fast-paced life. She does so much to keep things running that I can’t imagine where we’d be if she was still working as a nurse. And her compositional eye is outstanding. The second break is being blessed with supportive family and friends. The third is getting to know Joe Buissink.

The photographers who follow our blog know Joe, but some of our other blog readers who aren’t in the industry may not be so familiar with him. Joe is a wedding photographer, based in Beverly Hills. He’s good…really good. So good that last week American Photo magazine named him as one of the top 10 wedding photographers in the world. And absolutely no one was surprised. Over the past year I’ve had the opportunity to hear him speak a handful of times, including a three-day intensive seminar in Vermont last fall. And each time, whether there’s 10 in the audience or 1,000 I feel like he’s speaking directly to me.

I’d been talking to Joe about shooting with him for over a year, and we finally had an open date that worked. So I flew to Phoenix and joined him and his assistant John for an absolutely fabulous wedding.

Megan and Matt were the bride and groom and they were a pure delight. Their families were wonderful and their friends were fantastic. The wedding was held at the Trinity Cathedral and the reception was at Royal Palms. It was beautiful!

But even more exciting than a fantastic wedding was the opportunity to shoot with and watch Joe. Joe has an amazing ability to capture moments, and he does it better than anyone I’ve seen. When you watch him shoot it’s almost as if he’s firing two cameras in two different directions at the same time. He so fast it’s crazy.

But beyond his ability as an outstanding photographer is his uncanny ability to connect with people—anyone. Joy and I have been thinking and reflecting a lot about personality lately and Joe certainly has it. Everyone at the wedding opens up to him and lets him into their life, not only for the day, but forever.

Joe walked down the side aisle of the church just before the ceremony and someone called his name. He stopped, looked, smiled and suddenly a big hug. Then back to work. Minutes later a child with a toy helicopter started approaching him—not one ounce of bashfulness as he offered Joe the toy. All the while Joe’s snapping shots with his wide angle and talking with the little boy.

All afternoon and evening I watched him, laughing, chatting, and visiting with guests. You’d think he was at his high-school reunion, yet before the wedding he didn’t know a single person there, other than Megan and Matt. He’d grab a shot and then run up and show the person the image in the back of his camera. Their reaction: sometimes a smile, sometimes laughter, always a new friend. Simply amazing.

What does it take to connect with people? Obviously when a photographer connects with their subjects the result is better images. But it has to go beyond a desire for better images. The ability to connect roots itself in a passion for life and a love of people. Every person has a soul and it’s up to us to reach in and open it up.

Joe does it. At PPA last month in San Antonio I stood with the GraphiStudio folks after his presentation and watched nearly 100 photographers swarm him after the conclusion of his talk. He stood behind for over an hour, talking, visiting, laughing and connecting. Five days ago he concluded his 11-city tour with Marcus Bell. Shooting from the heart, that was the focus. I think back to the time I spent with him in Vermont last fall, what it did for me as a photographer. Not technically, but emotionally. That’s shooting from the heart.

Many photographers call themselves artists, and occasionally, I suppose, it’s an appropriate classification. But what I realized is that Joe IS an artist—an artist of relationships. And his photography is simply the bi-product.

Thanks Joe, for everything. And thanks Joy and Graycen, for letting me give up a rare open weekend.


Tim Co. said...

wow. this story is incredible, thanks so much for sharing and reflecting upon this incredible opportunity that was given to you!

wow...if memory serves I think this is ur first time second/third shooting as well? its gonna be hard to top this one lol!

I have some more thoughts that i'll share when I see u :-).

Mike said...

Absolutely a touching story! Most of us only know of Joe from what we read. But to listen to your words of Joe (and photos), his love of people, and his ability to translate those moments to the photographic media is the next best thing to being there! Thanks!

Frank DiMeo said...

Dang G, you still gonna second with me some day??? Really hope so.

WOW! What envy, what can I say… one of our favorite guys!

You deserve it bro, you are a great Photographer, Dad, Husband, and Person. Joe sees that just like we all do.

Honestly, no envy at all, I’m just so happy for you!

Hollye said...

HI Garret,
Thanks for the kind comments on my blog. It was great meeting you!
I don't doubt our roads will cross paths again.


ps. fantastic work on your site and blog!

LaCour said...

All I can say is...pure magic. Gentleness and magic are a rare combo of gifts. Joe's got both! The magic and gentleness shine on his face while he's shooting, in his eyes while he's talking to folks and through his heart when he's sharing with so many eager photographers.

Thanks for sharing this! What a great experience!
I was just about to call you to see how it went this weekend!
I think I'll call ya anyway :)

Arden said...

I meet Joe in Georgia last year at a Bambi workshop and fell in "love" with him. It is amazing that you have had this chance to work with one of the giants in our industry in such an intimate experience.
After the workshop I came away with knowlege from Bambi in a business capacity but Joe made his way right down to the heart of my creative eye. I envy your experience and hope to have one like that myself. Joe is truly one of the most amazing photographers of our time.
Congratulations on working with him as I am sure he changed your camera life as he did mine.

Robert Jimenez said...


I should just stop there because it says it all. Joe is my inspiration, I have never met him, or been to any of his seminars. I have only seen his photos at his websites, and other publications. But I just love his work, and I often think that it would be awesome to just spend a day with him at a wedding. I guess you are the lucky one!


Jenna & Matt Walker said...

what an amazing post. so true. must meet joe :)

i think you both have this gift as well...and it makes all the difference.

thanks for sharing your story garrett - you are both such an inspiration to so many!

Dawn Davis said...

What a great opportunity to work with Joe. He's the most wonderful guy and so talented. We feel (like you) so blessed to know him. Bob's having dinner with him as I type this (I'm so jealous!). I loved reading this post. You and Joy are incredibly wonderful people. Even though I have not met Joy yet, you both are so genuine! You have the hearts of gold and you treasure your family and friends! It's so obvious.

We can't wait to see you both at WPPI.

Take care and have an amazing day!!!!

~ Dawn

Anonymous said...

hey garrett,

thanks for sharing your experience with joe. it is so important to keep in mind what we are really doing in this business. when someone like joe is showing such openness and sincerity, it really gives you pause. you know, you and joy aren't too bad at this yourselves. hope to get together again with you guys soon.