More photos in the gallery after the story
Most wedding photos are corny dreck. No matter how cool your day is some photographer who spends his week shooting stupid kids' portraits at Sears will contort you in the cheesiest of poses. Not Mike Allebach "the original tattooed bride photographer." He enjoys photographing tattooed couples because there's no bullshit. They can take a traditional wedding and throw it out the window.
"Tattooed people are always in this phase of defining and finding themselves, so they are willing to rewrite the wedding rules, or throw them out altogether," Allebach says.
He treats weddings as individually as the people in them. "Corniness comes from sticking people in a box. I want to capture what's important and make it amazing. 50 years from now, I hope the images they have show personality of my clients. There are a lot of photographers who do the same old, same old. People choose me because they want to do what they want."
Allebach has no problem going with the flow of the crowd for the sake of good photography. If they want shots, he eggs them on, if the couple wants to get lost in their own world, he'll willingly fade into the background.
"When it comes down to it, the wedding photographers are body language experts," he says. "If you can't read and take cues from body language, you aren't going to get natural looking photos. They will look cheesy and posed."
Allebach prefers working with color versus black and white to capture the real energy of a wedding. He's influenced by 1920-30s fashion photographer Edward Steichen, Canadian photographer Von Wong, and photographer and blogger Brandon Stanton's Humans of New York.
Allebach hopes his art lives on with the people he shoots, "I hope the couple puts photos on their wall. Photos that show their personality and maybe a few tattoos. Photos they can look at on shitty days. That and I hope the wedding party gets really drunk and dances horrible and get to give the wedding couple blackmail material."