Well not really but, hey it’s a catchy title! 21 is my Happy Birthday/ Anniversary of being a professional wedding photographer! I couldn’t let January go by without talking about such a huge milestone. I think it would be fitting to explain how little Marissa got into this beautiful game of wedding photography. Afterall, it’s my favorite story to tell. It all started back in the day in high school at Monmouth Regional. A young studious Marissa met her match when she was assigned Mr. Heyn for graphic arts 2 (an elective class that taught half a year of photography). I say met her match lovingly, as I was a naive student that thought graphic arts was an ‘easy A’ elective, that was until I met Mr. Heyn. He was not only a photography teacher but, a professional wedding photographer. Through the year Mr. Heyn changed this student who was all about the easy A into a photographer. He challenged me to learn the camera inside and out, learn the all the technical aspects, and how to compose correctly. It was a long couple weeks, messing up film, re-doing assignments over and over again until I finally got the hang of it. Soon I found that I was not all about the grade but, actually loving the craft, in particular the magic of darkroom. Every year I continued to take photography as my elective and fell deeper in love with the art form. Four years later I decided not to go away to Boston for school and stayed local to get my associates in Fine Art Photography. During my freshman year of college, I received a phone call from Mr. Heyn checking in on me as I started my second semester. As we talked about my college experience, he invited me to come along and experience a wedding as an assistant. To say I was excited was understatement. I had a love affair with the beauty of weddings since I was a child looking at my parents’ wedding album and spending countless hours looking at wedding dress catalogues. Yes, there was such a thing back in the 80’s and 90’s!!
This was January 2000. What a year! A year I was a young fresh 19-year-old figuring out life and the life I wanted in the future. I was deciding what school to go to next. I knew I loved fashion and fashion magazines. I really was intrigued with idea of working in the fashion photo world. This is where I have to add in that I’m a realist and a person who hates change. This is where Mr. Heyn’s call was so important. This was the opportunity I needed to get behind the camera and bring what I loved into these weddings. The first wedding was at The Breakers in Spring Lake, the day started a little terrifying but, I found comfort that my primary job was to observe and assist. As the day went on, I started to get the hand of things until the reception. At the reception the 2nd shooter decided to tell Mr. Heyn that they were no longer going to be working with him. He immediately looked at me handed me a camera and said, “Like a soldier in battle, make every shot count.” “Oh, and don’t be a wallflower!” Ok, like wow! Here I am a kid, now actually photographing at someone’s wedding yup no pressure at all. After that the training had begun! I learned timing, lighting and posing. Everything you can think of that would give me the tools to be a great second shooter. The next couple of weddings I began to get more comfortable because I started to really learn and follow the “Heyn Way” and what we like to say controlling the good chaos. In September 2000 John F. Kennedy Jr.’s wedding images were released and it was like lightening hitting. I immediately told Mr. Heyn that’s it, I want to bring that editorial look to weddings! He agreed and continued to train me in the traditional style while letting me explore the editorial style through my weddings. I continued to study iconic photographers, Denis Reggie, Joe Buissnik, Annie Leibovitz, Bambi Cantrell, and Elizabeth Messina. I was determined to find my footing and let my passion burn through my photography. I even decided to get my Bachelor’s at Monmouth University so I could continue to photograph weddings on the weekend while studying Public Relations and Journalism. By 2005 I was a lead photographer for the studio. I eventually was promoted to studio partner 2010 and becoming full owner of Heyn Photography in 2016.
Now I might want to still consider myself a nineteen-year-old, I’m obviously not! Ok maybe at heart but, not by number. Actually, I just celebrated my 40th, which was a little scary. But what’s not scary is the years of memories I have helped to create. All the years of happiness and tears. The years of grit and determination, have led me to this point in life. I’m a huge believer that you never stop learning and you never settle. I have a lot more planned for Heyn Photography! You never stop the hustle and you never stop the burn for the one who is truly passionate! So, with that Happy Birthday/ Anniversary to me, it’s been a beautiful 21 years and I’m looking forward to another twenty something! I have truly been blessed and I’m beyond humbled by all the love I have witnessed and have received. The biggest love and thanks are to the man who believed in me back in the classroom at Monmouth Regional who taught me this beautiful craft of photography, Mr. John Heyn for whom I will never be able to thank enough!