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Meera Graham Photography has a unique approach to weddings and photographing couples that is different than any other approach we’ve seen in our years Catalyst. Meera Mohan-Graham knows that the time before your wedding day can be another opportunity to make lasting memories.
Meera has been photographing love stories for years, and her dedication to her couples is evident. She’ll be the first to tell you that her couples are not just clients, they are also her friends, and that is largely due to the fact that she pours a lot of energy into getting to know her couples very well during their wedding process. “I say ‘I love you’ a lot to my couples,” says Meera. “I find that by the end of our time together, nearly all of them say it back.”
She approaches weddings with a documentary style, and her goal is not to stage details of your decor or take photos that will present your wedding day as some over the top fairytale. “The details I’m drawn to are the human ones,” she says, and that’s why she strives to capture the texture and beauty of your soul, your love, and your celebration as they truly are.
“I have an amazing opportunity as a photographer to make people feel SEEN,” says Meera. “Think about it, how often do you feel truly seen by someone else — seen exactly as you are, for all your bits and pieces, and loved and valued for them?” Think of Meera as a mirror for your relationship, able to reflect back the love you and your partner have for each other and the joy you share when you’re together.
Meera Graham Didn’t Develop This Philosophy Overnight
Her desire to not only be a photographer for her couples but to also be a support system and friend stems from her own wedding planning experience. For Meera, who is a woman of color and the daughter of immigrants, and her now husband, Eliot, who is trans, their wedding was the culmination of a long and sometimes agonizing journey to overcome fear and come to self-acceptance. Though the emotional meaning of this day was incredibly layered and rich, the actual experience of planning their wedding was largely about navigating details and logistics, pressures and stress — the antithesis of connection and joy.
“We give what we need,” Meera says, and so over the years her wedding photography approach has been to give her couples a specific way to remain connected with each other throughout the planning process and to acknowledge that there is nothing more magical than finding your person.
“I feel like people don’t realize that what they share is so rare. When we find Our Person, they change how we experience everything. They expand our world. It's not about Hallmark romance or sweeping soundtracks; it's about the quiet day-to-day, about awakening to our own possibilities, about understanding the things that make us whole, and seeing our own struggles illuminated more clearly. It’s the ways we feel more deeply, explore more boldly, laugh harder, and play more often.”
Meera’s Slogan is “Let’s Dare To Do This Shit Our Own Way”
Meera is definitely approaching wedding photography in her own way, and we are seriously here for it.
“My goal is to disrupt the notion of how photography works, and what power it can have in our lives,” says Meera. “For most of us — present company included — the experience of being photographed is an outside-in process. Someone takes an image of our outsides that may reflect nothing about who we are other than what we look like. The result of this outside-in process is that it feeds our sense of inadequacy.”
Meera also wants to challenge the idea that a good photographer can “make” you look beautiful. Instead, she wants her clients to know that their are already beautiful just as they are.
“When we work with a photographer that skillfully poses and lights us so that our photos come out looking dramatic and glamorous, we often think ‘Wow, our photographer made us look amazing.’ I hear that all the time, and I cringe. So many photographers sell you the idea that once we light you perfectly, pose you carefully, and crack some jokes to make you smile, we’ll be able to capture a version of you that is worthy of presentation. It doesn’t involve meeting you where you are, or really seeing you for who you are. It’s some lazy, dangerous bullshit.” We couldn’t agree more.
“I’m here to show you how amazing you are, exactly as you are right now — as beautifully complex humans that are in the midst of a beautifully complex journey. You don’t need to be dropped into some shallow, templated version of what wedding or engagement photos are supposed to look like — you need to be seen and represented in all your fullness.”
It can be a struggle to stay focused on your beauty and self-worth when navigating wedding planning, especially because the wedding industry at large loves to feed off of those feelings of inadequacy. Meera doesn’t want her couples to ever feel like the process of planning their wedding is actually doing more harm than good. That’s why she feels it’s so important to help her clients keep the bigger picture in mind throughout the entire process.
Your Wedding Is Not a Surface-Level Experience
Meera’s style of photography relies on a deep connection with her couples, and she knows how important it is that couples stay focused on their relationship throughout the wedding planning process.
“The irony of wedding planning,” says Meera, “is that it seems to have a way of eroding the very things you’re trying to celebrate — your connection, your joy, and the simple things that bring meaning to your day-to-day life.” WE LOVE IT. “I quickly realized that to be an advocate for my couples, I needed to do something vital: I needed to support them in combating aspects of wedding planning. That meant helping them actively turn inwards together, to continue centering their relationship and their lived values together.”
Advocating for her couples is really what Meera is all about. She strives to make people realize their inner beauty as well as their outer beauty, and she will always be there to remind her couples that they are the reason people have come together to celebrate.
“Everything changed when I decided to make my photography work an inside-out process,” says Meera. “That means that my job isn’t just to take pretty photos, which any skilled photographer should be able to do, but my photos also have to reflect something about the souls of the people I photograph and the people that they are.”
In order to achieve this, Meera began rethinking her wedding photography process and decided to introduce something she calls the “Dig Deeper Experience” to her couples.
By the time the wedding day rolls around, Meera feels it’s important that she has developed a deep level of trust with her clients, and Meera will be the first to say that she doesn’t feel trust can happen overnight. That’s why she wants to have multiple face-to-face conversations with her clients leading up to their first photography session, which comes before the wedding and is similar to an engagement session. By the time Meera is standing in front of you with her camera, she wants you to feel like you already know and trust each other.
“Photographers, from our safe spot behind the camera, want to claim that being photographed isn’t a vulnerable experience. When clients express worry about how they’ll act or seem in front of the camera, we want to say ‘You’ll be fine! Stop worrying!’ when the reality is of course it’s a vulnerable experience. I think it makes such a difference to tell a couple ‘Yes! What you feel is real; this IS a vulnerable experience. We’re not going to pretend that it isn’t. Instead, I promise to earn your trust and take the time to create a space where the real you will emerge.’”
In order to achieve this, Meera meets with her clients face-to-face once a month for four months leading up to the session. If you’re local to Meera in Missoula, Montana, these could be in-person meetings, or if you’re located elsewhere in the U.S., Meera will schedule video chats with you and your partner so you can have thoughtful conversations leading up to your session. Each conversation has a specific topic of focus and is facilitated by Meera. In these sessions, Meera prompts her couples to talk about themselves, but she will also share a lot about herself and her own lived experiences. “I don’t think it’s fair to ask for vulnerability without giving it in return,” she says.
Meera wants to gently challenge her couples to put it all on the table, and this means that sometimes these conversations can touch on difficult subjects. “During our conversations, some of the things that can emerge include ways that joy, vulnerability, and difficult past experiences manifest in your relationship, but the most important of these is joy. The conversations are about honestly connecting in a different way and exploring your relationship through a variety of lenses, but I also want to emphasize that I’m not here to assess or fix things. This is not therapy, though it can be therapeutic.”
By the end of these conversations, Meera and her couples usually have a very strong bond, and when it comes to getting in front of the camera her couples are more relaxed and able to be themselves because they know they are in the care of a trusted friend. And more importantly, Meera is not a photographer who is trying to simply fade into the background. She is there with you all along the way. “By the time I finally pick up a camera, photography just becomes an extension of the connection the three of have been consciously cultivating all along. Not only am I in the room with my couples,” she says, “but I am invited.”
Rather than relying on posing during these sessions, Meera takes a different approach. “I use prompts that range from playful and fun to more meaningful and reflective in order to to facilitate an experience where my couples actually connect and share with each other, all while I document what I see. At first, this technique felt like a means to an end; it allowed me to get authentic photos of them without posing or force. Over time, though, I’ve actually adapted this process and now I consider it a vital way to let my couples explore their connection joyfully and deeply, as I belly laugh and occasionally even cry with them.”
As you can see, the results are images so full of emotion that it’s hard to look away or not tear up. At the end of this process, Meera hopes all of her couples will be able to answer one core question: “What about us is holding us back from offering ourselves our own acceptance?”
The Impact of the Dig Deeper Experience on Your Wedding Day
By spending some time leading up to the wedding focused on your relationship and what is truly beautiful about your love, Meera hopes that her couples are more prepared to handle the pressures of the day and are able to stay more present and in the moment than most. But that doesn’t stop her from doing all she can to support her clients all the way through.
“The week before the wedding, I have a conversation with my couples, and we spend most of it focusing on the way each person wants their wedding day to FEEL, and to also name the things that might prevent that. We talk about how they might let the burdens go, and how I can support them in that. On the actual wedding day, I’m emotionally present all day. By virtue of my role, I get to be close to my people throughout the day, which also means that I get to make sure that they are leaning in to their day in a way that reflects their values. Most of my people will say that they breathe a sigh of relief when I appear by their sides.”
As someone who was constantly juggling family expectations and pressure leading up to my own wedding, Meera’s process sounds like an emotional super power, and if I could go back in time and hire her to help me through my own wedding process, I totally would.
“Understanding my couples as deeply as I do also means that I have a strong sense of exactly what is most vital to capture when I document their wedding day. I’ll know and see layers of story and emotion and meaning, and search them out within their day and their community. My people will ask ‘How is it that you saw our story in exactly the way we remember it?’ and I always think ‘It’s because YOU were brave enough to open up to me, to let me go from being an outsider to an insider.’”
Thankfully, the Dig Deeper Experience Isn’t Only for Engaged Couples
While the majority of Meera clients are planning weddings, she doesn’t believe that the Dig Deeper Experience should be reserved for engaged couples. She believes that couples at all stages of their relationship benefit from taking this time to reflect on their relationship and see themselves through the eyes of their partner.
“No one needs to tell you you’re worthy of this experience or that your wedding is the only time to capture your relationship with photographs. You deserve to be seen.”
Meera Is Currently Booking Dig Deeper Experiences for Couples at All Stages in Their Relationship
Meera is currently booking sessions in Montana and on the East Coast in Western Massachusetts. You can sign up before March 31st to secure your spot in this round, or contact Meera and let her know you want her to come to your location.
Meera even offers payment plans, as she knows that photography is an important investment for most couples, but when the outcome is learning more about yourself, your relationship, and finding self-acceptance, is it really an investment you can afford NOT to make?
Jen Siomacco is the CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Catalyst Wedding Co. She works to mesh together her love of feminism, love stories, accessibility, equality, and design into the Catalyst brand. When she’s not traveling the country working to make the wedding industry a more inclusive place, she’s writing on her couch and snuggled up with her husband and SUPER lazy cats.
Photo by Tiffany Josephs Photography