When speaking of her experiences with either professional photography or her Catholic faith formation, Emma Dallman uses words like “marvel,” and “magic.” Her personal reflections glorify the many divine ways God works in and through this Philadelphia-based wedding photographer as she engages with couples, captures life through the lens of her camera, and pursues each day with trusting humility.
As an eight-year-old, Emma remembers snapping through an entire roll of film during the “Shamu Show” at Sea World. The memory stands as a moment she experienced the wonder of photography, which remained a hobby and side-hustle for years. By 2016, she entered more deeply into her desires and began pursuing photography as a business.
Concurrent with a growing professional career, Emma grew in her understanding of the mystery of the human person through Saint John Paul II’s teachings on Theology of the Body. She reflects, “The Theology of the Body has played a crucial role in both my faith formation and in my love for photography. I’m endlessly fascinated by the uniqueness and the beauty of every person I photograph.”
While witnessing living beauty is a gift of her career, Emma’s goal in shooting a wedding is to create art which memorializes every tiny, beautiful detail of each unique wedding day. Meanwhile, her own approach in relation with couples is organic yet thorough. Such intention engages the “magic of photography,” as shown in her rich, authentic, and emotion-driven photographs.
I view it as a privilege to be invited into someone’s “inner circle” on their wedding day. There are so many emotional, joy-filled, imperfect, and sometimes crazy moments you get to witness as a photographer, and those are the moments that make someone’s day unique and memorable.
Additionally, I love to capture the beauty of a wedding Mass. I have to laugh when I hear some photographers bemoan the “church wedding” as boring, because from my perspective, nothing could be more dramatic, mysterious or beautiful. Couples who share that idea tend to be drawn to my work.
Married love means thinking of yourself second. It's always asking yourself, "How can I help my spouse?" It's evaluating whether aspects of your life are good for them or not. Ultimately, it’s helping the other person get to heaven. Photographing a couple as they enter into the sacrament of marriage always reminds me of the blessing of my own Catholic marriage, and encourages me to go home and love my husband a little better.
Some of Emma’s favorites:
Books: Discerning the Will of God (Fr. Timothy Gallagher), Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card), The End of the Affair (Graham Greene)
Music: Sufjan Stevens, Jenny Lewis, The Black Keys, Bright Eyes
Movies: Far and Away (classic Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman!), Star Wars, Almost Famous
Saints and Devotions: St. Catherine of Siena and St. Therese of Lisieux; my husband and I have a big devotion to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots—she was crucial in our discernment of marriage—and of the Ignatian method of discernment
Place in the world: Yosemite Valley in California. My family and I camped there every summer while I was growing up, so in my mind it’s equal parts nostalgic and majestic.
Foods: Mexican. All day, every day!