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The Short Version: Forged in the North is a collective of wedding photographers and videographers who believe that the best way to create fun wedding memories is to (oddly enough) have fun! Using a healthy level of inner-group competition and a strong commitment to innovation, this NYC-based studio memorializes your special candid moments in authentic and industry-leading ways.
It feels like everyone and their dentist’s uncle is a wedding photographer these days. And as much as people feel obliged to support this creative exploration, the reality is this: Couples want the best of the best when the big day comes.
So how do they make sure that happens? How do they capture the jaw-dropping wedding photos that they’ll want to carry around in their wallets forever? Ryan Browne, Co-Founder and wedding photographer at Forged in the North, says that it comes down to the connection you feel to the artist’s work, the compatibility you feel with the artist themselves, and your ability to let loose and enjoy this monumental day.
That’s much easier to do when you’re in the hands of Forged in the North, a Brooklyn-based but world-traveling team that’s made a name for itself in the wedding industry in just under a decade. The crew of six started out as friends (or friends of friends) with a shared passion for visual storytelling and a love for, well, love.
Leveraging a strategic balance of inner-group dynamics and unique skills, this highly developed and flourishing company offers engaged couples a smorgasbord of talent.
“We’re always interested in capturing people in very real moments and not staged moments,” Ryan explained. “And hopefully that comes through in the work.”
Sometimes the most successful love stories are those that started by accident, and we’re not just talking about that of Ryan and Heidi, married couple and Co-Founders of Forged in the North.
Truth be told, Ryan and Heidi Browne never planned on being photographers. They were both happily enjoying their careers as architects when they decided to pick up a camera and start shooting in their free time, both as a way to explore other creative avenues and to experiment with showcasing their architectural designs. One thing led to another and, soon enough, it dawned on them: They were actually good at this.
“We just started shooting a lot of different things then got asked by some friends to shoot engagement shoots and then do a wedding. And that led to another wedding,” Ryan explains.
After dozens of gigs and I do’s later, Ryan and Heidi ditched their architectural sketch pads, wrangled a whole team of fresh and hungry creatives, and formed the group that is now officially known as Forged in the North. What started as a team of two has evolved into a six-person community of talented artists who all share a passion for capturing the beauty of love through visual storytelling.
And, evidently, they’re onto something. They won’t be the first to tell you this (they’re a pretty humble crew), but they’ve received some accolades and honorable mentions since the forming of this one-of-a-kind collective. That includes being recognized on the list of best photographers in the world by Brides Magazine and earning the Rangefinder Rising Stars award in 2015.
“We’ve probably done over 800 weddings collectively at this point,” Ryan said. “We have a lot of experience shooting together and working together.”
You don’t find yourself at this level of success without knowing what works and what doesn’t when it comes to memorializing a couple’s special day. This begs the question: What makes for a good photographer and couple match?
First thing’s first, Ryan insists that you feel a strong connection with the artist’s work. Sounds a bit too obvious? Maybe it is. But, according to Ryan, you’d be surprised at how many couples choose a photographer with the intention of making their own personal tweeks once the red light starts flashing.
“I never recommend someone to pick a photographer and then try to change their style or change their editing or do something about how they work. The best thing you can do is find a photographer whose work you really love and have a call or an email to connect with them on a personal level,” he urges.
This leads to his next piece of advice: Make sure you actually like the person. You’ll practically be glued to them from the moment you drink that first wedding morning mimosa until the moment you ride away in your white vintage Volkswagen. So you’re going to want to make sure you can stand them (and if they know how to crack the occasional hilarious joke, that’s always a huge bonus).
As long as you resonate with the photographer’s work (exactly as it is) and maintain a good rapport, everything else will fall into place. The only thing you’ll need to worry about doing after that is having fun.
“Don’t worry about the photos, that’s the biggest thing. Just have a kick ass party. You’re gonna be so in love with each other, you’re gonna be around family and friends, so just have an awesome day and really embrace that,” Ryan shares.
If you’ve done some scrolling on Instagram or Pinterest recently, it’s easy to see that the wedding photography industry has evolved astronomically over the years, with each couple of decades or so representing a new stylistic era. This new era, Ryan tells us, is characterized by a focus on capturing candid, authentic moments — the ones that have traditionally been left out of the wedding story. Ryan and his team have been inspired by the pioneers of this contemporary method, recognizing that the creatives at Forged in the North and so many others have been able to build on what they’ve created.
“I’d say we were kind of the second generation of this new era. And now, we’re into maybe the fourth or fifth generation of it. The whole industry has been elevated, in part, by this kind of photography, because after you have these weddings, the only thing remaining at the end are those special images,” he says.
Knowing that many creatives in the wedding industry have adopted this new style, it’s impressive to see how Forged in the North has continued to stand out among the rest. Ryan believes this can be attributed to a few reasons, the first being that the team has found its stride as a group — one where all storytellers are treated and paid equally yet still celebrated for their unique differences.
“Paul tends to always be thinking of very offbeat and unique compositions. Heidi and I, just with our backgrounds in architecture, are always interested in creating a strong sense of place in our work. Bennet’s video work tends to be a little bit more emotional and storytelling driven. And then Benjamin’s work is a lot more like, ‘Hey, we’re having a party. It’s upbeat, it’s fun,’” Ryan describes.
They also offer couples something notably less common in the wedding industry: a dual photo and video approach. Quite often, Ryan tells us, the photographer and videographer are hired separately, or sometimes one outsources the other in an attempt to appear more marketable. When you hire a team that has both, however, there’s a noticeable energetic flow between creatives, ensuring that one partner’s skills seamlessly complement the other.
“For Heidi and I, we’re always bouncing off each other photo and video-wise. Or sometimes it’s Paul and Ben or me and Paul or Heidi and Ben. Whatever the combination is, there’s always a very integrated approach and that’s something that we’re definitely super proud of,” Ryan told us.