The Wedding Planner
Al Riccio Finds His Niche

Photos © 2001, Al Riccio, All Rights Reserved

He makes no bones about it: "Pretty pictures are what make the world work for me," Al Riccio says, and those are the pictures he always plans to take. He's in the right business, that's for sure. Actually, two businesses-wedding photography and the sale of images to greeting card, calendar, and poster companies.

Al started in weddings years ago because it was, frankly, an easy way to get started as a photographer. When he took some of his wedding images to a greeting card company, he got happily sidetracked. "They hired me to work for them as a director of photography," he says. Eventually he stopped doing the weddings as the sale of his images to card and poster companies took all his time. A few years ago he picked up weddings again, and today, at 20 weddings a year, they account for about 15 percent of his income.

Al turned to the Polaroid transfer process he used for the images you see here simply to give himself a new look to take to the market. Of course, the Polaroids appeal to his artistic sense, too. "I try to relate all my images to emotion," he says, and each Polaroid transfer is a unique piece of art, strong in the emotional content he desires for all his work, and close to the palette of the Impressionist masters he admires.

Wedding Cards & Posters
By applying wedding themes to several of the transfers, he was able to market the work to greeting card and poster companies. "Those companies are always looking for images that say wedding without being the traditional images of weddings."

Once in a while a bride and groom will express interest in having an original transfer done for them, but Al doesn't actively promote the work that way. "It's tough," he says. "I have to do an 8x10 and paint it; it's very time-consuming and may take a few tries to get something that I consider up to my standards. It's hard to price a work like that because of the time involved, but in those cases where I've done it, the couple love having a unique, framed work of art done exclusively for them."

Al shoots his weddings with a Bronica SQ-Ai. His Polaroid transfers almost always originate as 4x5 images he takes with his Calumet view camera onto Polaroid Type 59 film, then transfers to art-quality watercolor paper and hand-paints.

The images you see here have been successful as posters and greeting cards, but for Al they were successful long before they sold: "What's best for me are the reactions I get from people who see my work. People respond to the emotion in the images, and I know when I've captured something that's going to get an emotional response."

You can see examples of Al's wedding photography at his site, Follow the link at the bottom of the page to see other examples of his Polaroid transfers.
-Barry Tanenbaum