Former Navy photographer now shoots weddings

First slide

Craig Spiering learned his craft during a four-year stint in the Navy. He studied photography and photojournalism at the Defense Information School at Fort Meade, Md., and spent his military career photographing Navy operations around the world - much of it on aircraft carriers. For his work, he earned the Joint Services Achievement Medal in 2005 for documenting the effects of Hurricane Katrina along the Gulf Coast.

He married his wife, Jamie, in 2005, and after he left the Navy in 2006, the couple moved to Front Royal to what he said is "an amazing Catholic community." He went to work in the IT department at Christendom College.

With his strong photography background, friends would ask him to shoot their weddings, and he would do it for free. Word of mouth made him a popular photographer.

"They were very persistent, and I was going to the wedding anyway," he said. "I thought I probably should start charging."

For the past eight years, Spiering has been photographing weddings, doing from 25 to 30 ceremonies a year. The weekend wedding schedule allows him to continue his day job while keeping his evenings free to spend with his wife and their six children.

Spiering specializes in Catholic weddings. He said that since he knows the mechanics of the Mass, it's easier for him to position himself to get a great shot without disrupting the service.

Of the more than 185 weddings he has photographed, at least 30 have been of the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite.

Spiering said the challenges of photographing a wedding in the extraordinary form are similar to the challenges in the ordinary rite, but there is less freedom in the sanctuary. For one thing, in the extraordinary form, all the readings are done by the priest, so there's no opportunity to get a picture of a friend or family member at the lectern.

Spiering is a one-man shop, only contracting out for an extra photographer if the wedding couple insists on having multiple shots taken from different angles.

"I prefer to work alone. It leaves a smaller footprint," he said.

Although primarily a wedding photographer, he occasionally branches out. In 2014, he photographed an ordination of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter at St. John the Apostle Church in Leesburg. He also has photographed the first Mass of newly ordained diocesan priests, including Father Noah Morey at St. John the Apostle.

But weddings are still dear to his heart.

"I love photographing Catholic weddings, because, as a Catholic, I know that I am witnessing a beautiful sacrament in the house of Our Lord," he said.

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© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016