And the two of them become one…. wedding photography brightens the days ahead

We’ve been through a lot in the past couple of years. It was good to see 2022 start to brighten up a bit — professionally for me with wedding photography in West Virginia and Southwestern Pennsylvania — as two wonderful couples helped me realize that life was starting to get back to normal.

I was fortunate to be Megan and Robert’s wedding photographer, as they celebrated a perfect day in Crabtree, Penn., on June 11. As it said in their wedding program: “Deep waters cannot quench love, nor rivers sweep it away…” We’ve all needed quite a bit of love since the pandemic and other matters have challenged us to become better souls. Meg and Rob have most assuredly passed this test, and are on their way to a deeper harmony.

Megan and Robert are all smiles during their wedding
ceremony at St. Bartholomew Parish in Crabtree, Pennsylvania.

Visit Megan and Robert’s gallery at

Keleigh and Joey, a respiratory therapist and nurse practitioner respectively, were more than happy to see their wedding day dawn on August 26 in Morgantown, West Virginia. A Monongalia County Deputy Sheriff may have wanted to steal the beautiful soon-to-be bride from the groom before the couple exchanged their vows at Monongalia County Justice Center, but love turned out to be the strongest form of justice. Joey and Keleigh celebrated their reception with family and friends at Flour and Feed along the banks of the Monongahela River in Morgantown on August 27.

Keleigh and Joey were married at the Monongalia County
Justice Center in Morgantown, W.Va., on August 26, 2022.
Keleigh and Joey celebrated their wedding reception along the banks of the
Monongahela River at Flour and Feed in Morgantown, W.Va., on Saturday, August 27.

Visit Keleigh and Joey’s gallery at


Family is everything and the stories are priceless

“In the end, we’ll all become stories.” So wrote Margaret Atwood.

Of course, words make stories, which means that if a picture is worth a thousand words, then that picture must tell a pretty good story. It is interesting that Oxford Languages believes that the opposite of ‘story’ is ‘the truth’, but I would beg to differ in many cases, as the truth is in the eyes of the beholder; and when it comes to family, a lot of photos means a lot of stories and a lot of truths.

Put together a book of pictures, and the story becomes one that can either be told with those images alone or mixed with words. Yes, looking at pictures of your ancestors often speaks volumes, but I’ve found that when it comes to understanding the people who have played an important role in the shaping of their progeny, background information, and if luck may have it, quotes from letters and other sources, add zest to the visual stories captured in a fraction of a second.

Jack Richman celebrated his 90th birthday with his wife Sharon, family, and friends at the Morgantown, W.Va., Elks Lodge on Saturday, March 19, 2022. I was asked to be the birthday party photographer and designer of his photo book. The smiling faces, hugs, timeless moments, and yes, family group shots, combined to make a substantial Mixbook.

Sharon and Jack applaud the band.

In the end, family is everything, and the stories are priceless.

Consider a custom-designed wedding photo book

A custom designed wedding photo book will become a lifetime-keepsake for newlyweds and their families.

It may be a project that you will enjoy taking on together (information about online companies below), or I can design your book.

A popular size is 12″x12″ as seen here from Allysan and Alexander’s wedding at Oglebay Resort in Wheeling, West Virginia. More pages may be viewed at

According to the, the following company websites are the best to help you put together your wedding day memories:

• Best Overall: Shutterfly at “One of the most popular websites because of their many options.”

• Runner Up, Best Overall: AdoramaPix at “Delivers beautiful keepsakes printed on professional-grade paper.”

• Best Budget: Amazon Prints at Amazon “An affordable way to get customized photo albums, mugs, and more.”

• Best Themes: Mixbook at “They offer a wide variety of photo book categories to make it easier.”

• Best for Weddings: Artifact Uprising at “Known for their superior-quality and wedding-specific products.”

• Best App: Chatbooks at “Use an app to make custom designs in as little as five minutes!”

• Best for Mac: Motif at “This program is a simple extension for Photos on macOS.”

• Best for Instagram: Snapfish at “Pull pictures from social media to create a memorable photo album.”

If you have any questions, please contact me through my website at Thanks!

Be present at West Virginia Botanic Garden at Tibbs Run Preserve to celebrate and witness a new day

West Virginia Botanic Garden at Tibbs Run Preserve has been a favorite destination of mine since moving to the Cheat Lake area of Morgantown, W.Va., in 2016.

As a runner and hiker, WVBG soon beckoned to me. The ascent up Pounds Hollow Road to its 1061 Tyrone Road locality became part of my normal routine. My iPhone 6 Plus measured my health and captured my first photographs as I began to discover the nine beautiful gardens, and traverse the 4.5 miles of trails.

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It has taken a lot of hard yet rewarding work by staff members and scores of volunteers for WVBG to grow into the organization it has become in 2020. This year marks their 20th anniversary, and there is much to celebrate.

Financial contributions, fundraisers, much human effort, and the recent passage of the Mon County Parks and Recreation Levy have all helped lead to past, present, and future WVBG good times.

The year has been challenging due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but WVBG has worked through the difficulties, and plans for the future as all successful organizations do. “Difficulties mastered are opportunities won,” said Winston Churchill.

As a Morgantown photographer, I look forward to photographing WVBG on a regular basis — now with Nikon, not Apple. Live and learn, and head to West Virginia Botanic Garden at Tibbs Run Preserve — “Almost Heaven” all of the time.




Consider style and tonality when choosing a wedding photographer

When working as a photojournalist, I’ve always been conscious of achieving a natural look when toning photographs. I think the same when working as a wedding photographer.

Color and contrast are subjective in photography. There are no right or wrong answers, as everyone perceives these factors differently. Color and contrast change constantly depending on light and shadow.

Over time, photographers develop a style.

Some photographers have a high-key style, which in the digital era can be attained by slightly overexposing when shooting, and also using processing techniques.

Morgantown photographers Mark and Jennifer Shephard photograph Allysan and Alexander's Oglebay Resort wedding in Wheeling, West Virginia.
Allysan poses at Oglebay Resort in Wheeling, West Virginia prior to her wedding ceremony with Alexander. This is a slightly hi-key style with lighter shadows brought to life in Photoshop.

High-key lighting “aims to reduce the lighting ratio present in the scene,” said one Wikipedia expert. This was originally done in early film and television for technological reasons since those mediums “did not deal well with high contrast ratios, but now is used to suggest an upbeat mood.

A low-key style accentuates the contours of the subject by throwing areas into shade while a fill light or reflector may illuminate the shadow areas to control contrast.” Underexposing when capturing an image would be a possibility if the photographer wanted to hide part of a face or scene in shadow. But for wedding photography, the best low-key results will occur if a situation can be controlled with light.

Documentary-style wedding photography (Documentary Wedding Photography? 10 Reasons Why.) is what I lean toward even though I understand the importance of formals and romantic portraits.

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When deciding which photographer/photographers that you will hire for your wedding day, it is best to have an understanding of the aesthetics that you would like to see in your wedding photographs.

I invite you to check out my wedding photography at



Morgantown, W.Va., photographer Mark Shephard documents family events and lifestyles

Visually documenting family lifestyles in a ‘real world’ manner has a history going back to the Renaissance. Painters started to be concerned about producing photorealistic canvasses of activities and interactions of families.

Documentary photography and photojournalism followed this tradition beginning in the mid-19th century, and now in the 21st-century family lifestyle photography has become all the rage.

The Dutch Golden Age in the 17th century was when genre pictures and scenes from family and social life became prominent subjects of the many masterful Dutch artists. Optics and perspective were being studied and mastered steadfastly by painters, and three-dimensional slices of life were looking better and better in two-dimensions.

Dutch artist Jan Steen (1626-1679) painted Beware of Luxury. According to Wikipedia, his works are known for their psychological insight, sense of humor, and abundance of color.

The people in the Netherlands at that time were doing rather well, as the middle class was taking full advantage of all the opportunities that that era of globalization was offering to the country’s productive citizens, and thus those citizens kept artists busy painting family portraits and genre scenes, which the populace would decorate their homes with prominently.

My years as a newspaper photojournalist helped me realize all that goes into photo assignments and self-generated photo stories about family lifestyles and newsworthy matters. In a perfect world, multiple sessions help bring images and words into better focus.

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I photographed Oliver’s Annaprashana over two half-days in Cheat Lake, W.Va., and the gatherings of families and friends at the Hindu rite of passage ritual that marks an infant’s first intake of food other than milk formed many colorful and touching genre scenes and pictures.

There are many options and much to consider when deciding what type of family photos are best for your family. 15 Fascinating Family Photography Blogs to Follow might offer some more insight.

Please visit my website at for more information. Thanks!



Morgantown photographer Mark Shephard documents wedding day celebrations in West Virginia and the Greater Pittsburgh area

Morgantown photographer Mark Shephard — Greater Pittsburgh area wedding
Kali and Jake say a prayer together before their wedding ceremony on September 21, 2019, at the Five Pines Barn in Irwin, Pennsylvania.

Wedding photography has offered me many special moments since I decided to start a small, home-based business in 2000.

Twenty years later, and 2020 has thrown a curveball known as Covid-19. It will be very interesting to see if it’s possible to hit this one out of the park, but we’ll just have to give it the old college effort. This may also be said about the couples who have decided to move forward and make their special days happen pandemic or not.

Since 2016, I’ve lived and worked in the Cheat Lake area of Morgantown, West Virginia. My wife Jennifer is also a photographer.

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My years as a Navy photographer and newspaper photojournalist helped me learn to visualize, capture, and create the many important images that occur in life. I approach candid pics with the “decisive moment” in mind, formals with an understanding of location lighting, and romantics with a vogue sensibility.

Weddings within a 100-mile radius of our home would be ideal for me to document, nevertheless, travel outside this North Central W.Va., and Greater Pittsburgh area is also welcome. It’s a great big world out there, and I want to see as much of it as you do.

I offer couples the option of a practical plan for having me capture and create their wedding day memories, or one of several packages, which may be viewed at

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Praise the May laurels and landscapes at Coopers Rock State Forest in West Virginia

Mountain laurel starts to bloom beautifully in May at Coopers Rock State Forest, the 12,747-acre state forest located in Monongalia and Preston counties in North Central W.Va. and continues into June.

The delicate and glossy rose-colored white umbels of the North American evergreen shrub or small tree (Kalmia latifolia), which happen to be the state flower of Pennsylvania—just several miles to the north—speckle different areas within the forest, and add contrast to the green vistas of the Cheat River Valley overlooks.

Nature’s colors come alive in May—the sage of lichen, the vivid greens, golds, and oranges of crags, trees and reflections in the runs—and they are best witnessed during the golden hour, and when clouds roll by acting as both a photographer’s brushstroke and softbox.

And if you love history like I do, then hiking on the Clay Run Trail to the 1830’s-era Henry Clay Furnace will be a highlight of your visit to Coopers Rock State Forest in May.

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Prints and rights-managed downloads available at

Morgantown Photographer Mark A. Shephard provides senior pictures in North Central West Virginia and the Greater Pittsburgh Area

Like any great portrait, senior pictures should capture more than just a likeness, they should exude personality. “It’s one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it’s another thing to make a portrait of who they are,” said photographer Paul Caponigro.

The portraits we have made when we are young adults become manifest memories that will accompany us through life and find a place down through the generations. Linda Gordon writes in her biography Dorothea Lange: A Life Beyond Limits that “Lange offered her elite clientele portraiture that suggested—or ‘revealed,’ she would say—individuality and a deep inner life.”

By the time teenagers become seniors, an eternity of unique experiences has become ingrained in their personalities. This becomes much more apparent as the years fly by. The five-or-so years of being a teenager which lead to commencement are truly a trip.

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Drew Scatterday, a Morgantown High School graduate, was the subject of my first senior session after our move to the Cheat Lake area in 2016.

The WVU Core Arboretum in Morgantown proved perfect for Drew’s senior photo session. We met when the golden hour arrived in the late afternoon, and soon Drew had positioned himself on the limb of a tree, and I froze the moment in time.

Several things to consider before meeting for your session/sessions are:

  • What activities (sports, music, 4-H, etc.) have played an important part in your teenage years?
  • What indoor and outdoor locations have played an important part in your life?
  • How formal or informal do you want your photos to be, and how will the choice and colors of clothes relate to your setting?

My website ——will allow you to view more of my work, view pricing for portraiture, and contact me if you have any questions.

Thanks, and good luck with your life’s journey!

Morgantown, W.Va., photographer Mark Shephard finds joy in creating timeless family lifestyle images and portraits

As a veteran photographer and freelance photojournalist who has just turned 60 in this crazy, Covid-19, and #BLM year of our Lord 2020—one in which started out with the passing of my father in January—the realization that ‘family matters most’ has dawned upon me once again.

Even though my wife Jennifer and I do not have children, it is easy to witness the conviviality of our Cheat Lake neighborhood here in the Four Seasons subdivision in Morgantown, West Virginia. The kids and parents enjoy being outdoors, playing, and working, as the birds sing the praises of the day.

In my days as a newspaper photojournalist in Michiana (Southwest Michigan, South Bend and Elkhart, Indiana—where we lived for 25 years), I would be tasked with going out and finding ‘wild art’—many times of kids playing in the streets, and parents working outside to beautify their properties. Some photo assignments would include photographing families inside doing various things; the images used to illustrate stories.

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In 2016, I started working as a freelancer for the Dominion Post, which helped me get acclimated to Monongalia, Preston, and Marion Counties. I photographed Emily Wendell, 5, of Morgantown, as she added her colorful touches to a mural during MedExpress Kids Day in Morgantown, W.Va., on July 15, 2017.

In 2000, I decided to start a small business in Michiana, while still working part-time at the South Bend Tribune. I started to use location lights for portraiture in controlled settings—both indoors and outdoors—while continuing the documentary on-the-fly approach that I had developed as a Navy Photographer’s Mate during the ’80s, and as a newspaper photographer during the ’90s.

Family photography is important beyond measure. The timeless moments and poses of action photos and portraits will serve many purposes and will be cherished down through the generations. “Family is not an important thing, it’s everything.” So said Family Ties star, Michael J. Fox.

Visit to see more photos, and here to see the pricing options available for sessions.

Thanks for visiting!