When A-listers need a photographer, there’s one man who they all turn to.
Denis Reggie has been behind the lens of 24 Kennedy family weddings – and his iconic photo of the late John F Kennedy Jr kissing the hand of his bride Carolyn has been hailed as “the most famous wedding photograph in history”.
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“When I was a college kid in New Orleans, I met the Kennedys when they were campaigning for Senator Edward Kennedy, who was running for President of the United States,” Reggie said.
“His niece Courtney was travelling with Ethel, who was the lead campaigner, and she had gotten engaged two days before.
“We talked about weddings and photography, and I mentioned how I grew up watching the Kennedys in magazines just being themselves – from playing frisbee on the beach to chasing dogs and playing touch football in the yard.
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“I loved how natural and unaffected by the photography process they were – and I mentioned to her that I did that in my wedding photography. I found people being themselves, not pretending, not posing, and she liked that very much.
“A week later, I was hired to do my very first Kennedy family wedding.”
That iconic photo
Denis’ photo of John F Kennedy Jr and Carolyn Bessette was credited by The Wall Street Journal as the watershed image that transformed wedding photography forever.
“They’re a famous couple, obviously, but it’s such a natural and romantic moment,” Reggie said.
“To see him in that princely gesture reach for the hand of Carolyn, bring it to his lips and kiss her – and to see her expression was so lovely.
“She was caught off-guard, as I was as the photographer – and it’s such a wonderful, poignant moment of romance, and I was honoured to be there to document it for history and for the two of them.
“It’s gotten far more publicity than I ever would’ve imagined – but what a great honour it was to witness it and document it for the world.
Setting a trend
“Many grooms walked out of chapels thereafter kissing the hands of their brides,” Reggie said.
“I saw more photos at photography conventions of just that same look. And a lot of couples decided to get married in small chapels in the woods.
“Trendsetting happens by celebrities, and high-profile photographs and couples tend to be the genesis of that type of a trend – and that’s certainly what happened.
“But for my career, it certainly didn’t hurt – and I’ve been able to work all over the world with great thanks to that family for trusting me with that task.”
A part of history
Denis is not exclusive to the political family – he has also photographed a long list of celebrities, including Paul Newman, Maria Carey and Oprah Winfrey.
But his passion is wedding photography – in 1986, he photographed Arnold Schwarzenegger’s wedding to Maria Shriver.
“Every wedding has magic, and it may be something as simple as the way a groom looks at his bride,” Reggie said.
“There’s so much evidence of romance – and my mission is to anticipate, sense, feel, and capture that little something.
“It can be something simple in the eyes or with the hands. I love capturing the groom’s expression when he first sees his bride. There are so many magical moments and weddings are filled with them.”
And if that’s not enough, his pictures are now part of the permanent collection at the National Museum of American History.
Find out more on Denis’ website here.