Joe Appel Photography: 6 Things That Make This Pittsburgh Wedding Photographer Stand Out

If you’re in the heart of wedding planning, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the seemingly countless Pittsburgh wedding photographers out there. With so much talent to choose from, how can couples find the best one for their big day, and how can the photographers themselves stand out from the crowd? I think it all boils down to one word – experience. Years of honing your craft, recognizing and knowing your ideal client, and creating very thoughtful work is the difference between an amateur or hobbyist and a bona fide professional. And I’ve never met a Pittsburgh photographer more professional than Joe Appel. Not only is he the truest gentleman with a kind soul, but his background makes him distinguishable from the pack. Here are 6 ways how! 

He’s a storyteller.

For almost twenty years, Joe was a photographer at The Tribune Review, covering everything from high school sports to portraits of government leaders to life-changing emergency situations. This long career in photojournalism taught him to do just that – tell a story with a photo. He quickly learned to assess a situation, determine what story that situation could tell, and capture it in a compelling way. Joe has a mind for seeing the big picture, but an eye for spotting those serendipitous moments that allow viewers to see and understand it too.

How does this translate to wedding photography? Your special occasion is just one, big, day-long story waiting to be told. However, unlike covering a news story, Joe doesn’t see himself as simply an observer. With wedding clients, he feels so much more personally invested because he’s telling the story of a couple – YOUR story.

Joe Appel Photography: 6 Things That Make This Pittsburgh Wedding Photographer Stand Out

His work will draw you in.

You’ve heard that a picture is worth a thousand words. But have you ever considered what you want your photographs to say? Perhaps you want them to capture the essence of your silly, close knit family, or all of the idiosyncrasies of how you and your better half show affection toward one another? Maybe there is a seemingly minute detail of your wedding reception that actually holds a whole lot of meaning? A photograph can convey all of this, if captured in a thoughtful way. Take one look at Joe’s work and I guarantee, you’ll be drawn in. As an outside observer, I may not know as much of the story as the couple or family does. But Joe’s images have a way of moving me and making me wish that I did.

Joe Appel Photography: 6 Things That Make This Pittsburgh Wedding Photographer Stand Out

He’s very intentional with his photography.

One tendency for which Joe can thank his photojournalism career is his intentionality. Covering news stories is a FAST-paced environment. You have very limited chances to “get the shot” but you must absolutely get it right! This taught Joe to be constantly on alert, searching for those unique, once-in-a-lifetime moments to turn into photographs that will spark a memory. That is the point of a photo after all – to conjure up a memory. Putting so much thought into every frame allows Joe to deliver impactful images that will make you say, “I remember how I felt in that very moment.”

Joe Appel Photography: 6 Things That Make This Pittsburgh Wedding Photographer Stand Out

He’s genuinely interested in his clients.

So many of Joe’s clients describe him as being easy to work with. They feel comfortable being themselves around him, and the camera is able to capture that authenticity. This isn’t a magical photography technique or even something silly Joe does at sessions to get his clients to open up. He simply shows a genuine interest in and thoughtful care for the couples he works with. Joe has said that “if you show people you’re interested in them, they tend to open up to you.” And in order to make an interesting photograph, you have to find the subject matter interesting. Time after time, Joe finds himself forming bonds with his clients simply because they grow to become friends both before and after the session.

Joe Appel Photography: 6 Things That Make This Pittsburgh Wedding Photographer Stand Out

You’ll barely notice him or his camera.

Your wedding day will be one of the most stressful albeit happiest days of your life. One of the best ways to put yourself at ease is to work with professionals whom you trust and who will ultimately make your life easier. Joe has a way about him that is instantly calming, and you feel like you’re around a longtime friend. He is confident in his work and photography skills, which instantly helps clients feel comfortable, knowing they are in good hands. While a wedding day is full of intimate, emotionally-charged moments, Joe is a quiet, unobtrusive photo ninja – capturing the day in an unassuming, non-distracting, sophisticated way.

Joe Appel Photography: 6 Things That Make This Pittsburgh Wedding Photographer Stand Out

He’s working for you…but also the people who will come after you.

Let’s be honest…your wedding day isn’t just about YOU. It’s about your fiancé, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, friends, etc. But more than that, a wedding day is about the people who will come after your…your children, grandchildren, great grandchildren. There is nothing quite like looking at photos of your parents’ or grandparents’ wedding day and seeing them in such different lights than the ones from which you know them. Through prints and albums, Joe aims to ensure the generations that follow you get a sense of who you were. He wants to create that tradition of gathering around the coffee table, surrounding yourself with family, and leafing through your tangible memories, each time having that same visceral reaction.

Joe Appel Photography: 6 Things That Make This Pittsburgh Wedding Photographer Stand Out


The world of Pittsburgh wedding photography is a big one that can be hard to navigate. Do yourself a favor – don’t hire someone based on budget alone, but rather on the photographer’s style, personality, and experience. Lucky for you, Joe Appel has all three. Check out his website and follow him on Instagram to see and learn more!

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