My first wedding… that I shot when I was 12

Apr 29, 2013  |  Posted by: Megan Stay

People often ask me how I started in photography. Not long ago I realized that my very first wedding was in fact the first time I shot a camera, when I was twelve. Get ready for some blurry, horribly colored, scans of prints from my very first wedding. None of these have been altered in any way.

I’ve always been an artistic oriented person. My mom tells stories of my dexterity when I was a kid, my love of crafts, sewing, painting, DIYing (before it had a name) all lead me to photography. My dad had always been a hobbyist photographer and had his 35mm minolta with him nearly everywhere we went. He was king of the slide. We had a ton of carousels of slides when I was a kid.

There is a significant age gap between me and my siblings. My parents were married before they hitched along with each other and had two kids, each, from their previous marriages. So by the time I came a good 14-19 years had passed between children. The only sibling I ever lived with as a child was my sister, Kathy. She and I grew very close during this time. I blame her for my Michael Jackson obsession as a child. We would have many a “sister’s day” together, seeing movies, buying Pearl Jam tickets, painting our toe nails, and the like.

When Kathy told me she was getting married and invited her fiance to our “sister’s day” I was mildly upset. Which is being generous to my angsty twelve-year-old self, because I’m fairly certain I stopped talking to her. On Kathy and Jeff’s wedding day (March 23, 1996, clearly it was a rough day since I still remember the date!) my dad forked over his beloved Minolta, gave me a brief lesson in how to use it and get an exposure right and I spent the day hiding behind the box. Observing my world crumbling before my eyes, or so I thought.


It was that day, the first day I photographed anything, that I fell in love. After my success I took classes in 4-H in middle school (I told the sad story of an egg who met his demise on a rock). Then in high school I went completely outside my comfort zone and took the Photography I class, without any of my friends. Even today it surprises me that I did this. When I went to college the only thing that I wanted to study was photography. I earned my BFA in photography and spent a semester at NYU in their program.

The picture below is the one I was most proud of from the entire wedding day. I loved the romance and the real moment, funny how that need for those two things in my work has never changed.


All of this can be brought back to Kathy’s wedding, when my dad handed me a pacifier in the shape of a box with a lens. I also have to give a huge credit to Kathy’s professional photographer that day. For when I was taking this photo below of my dear sister and flipped the orientation of my camera from horizontal to vertical he said, “that’s very smart to turn the camera. Most people would just back up until her dress was in the frame.”

What did I get from this comment?



Look at me rocking those detail shots 😉

I seriously thought I was a child prodigy in photography. And maybe that little compliment, something this man never gave a second thought to, is what pushed me to pursue my love to create in the form of this medium.

Here’s the backside of the man who gave me my gusto. Please note his sweet Mamiya-RZ. I do have one of those too. P.S. My mom took this photos, the evidence is in the stamped date in the lower lefthand corner.


I know I was super lucky to figure out what I wanted to do when I was twelve. Not many are blessed with that. How did you get started doing what you love? Is it still a hobby, or did you turn your passion into your career?


  • Nicki says:

    You WERE a child prodigy in photography! Nice work, meg 🙂

  • Claudia Mom says:

    And all these years later, I found out you had taken those wonderful photos of Kathy’s wedding – I thought it was your dad!! You done good Meg. We love you.

  • Lisa says:

    So awesome! Now you made me wonder what was the first thing I photographed, must figure it out! lol

  • JamieY says:

    Such a great story. That is pretty amazing that you knew at 12 and stuck with what you wanted to do the whole time.

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