Game Changer: Gabe McClintock

Every wedding photographer has one special image that has defined their careers and Lisa set out to ask a selection of those who have most influenced her to nominate their stand out shots for her monthly column in Professional Photo Magazine.


Like last weeks’ game changers Nordica, another incredibly influential wedding photographer passionate about travel is Gabe McClintock. After 17 years and having been named one of the World’s Best Wedding Photographers, the real turning point for him was having a viral moment six years ago – and we mean 15 million + people seeing his images in the space of a few weeks viral, not your auntie on Facebook saying she’s gone viral because her likes hit double figures. Before this, Gabe was shooting maybe a couple destination weddings a year – now 80-90% of his bookings are now destination. Let’s hear about this Game Changing moment for him in his own words below.


“The elopement of Sara and Josh six years ago changed everything for me, personally as well as professionally. The back story is that this couple was supposed to get married at a family farm in Ohio and a few months before the day I received a Facebook message from Sara asking if ‘we could talk?’ Now usually messages like that, months before a wedding, aren’t a good thing, but boy this couldn’t have been farther from the usual. It transpired that Sara and Josh were getting tired of the planning and stresses that can come along with a traditional wedding, so they had decided to forgo the wedding and elope to the place where they’d planned to have their honeymoon, namely Iceland. They asked if I wanted to come along and join them instead of going to Ohio and, of course, I replied with a ‘YES!!’

Fast forward two months and I’m in a car driving down the highway with the couple in Iceland. I’m a little jet lagged but the adrenaline and excitement of seeing this incredibly gorgeous country for the first time pushes this away. We decide to stop the car off the side of the highway about 40 mins outside Reykjavík and as Sara and Josh do their final touches I begin to take it all in and notice extremely dark storm clouds off in the distance and think, ‘Holy shit…this is going to be good.’ We walk, I start shooting and boy was I right. The next two days of capturing this couple’s connection and elopement was nothing short of magical. 

A few weeks later I’m  home back in Canada and still on a high from this trip. I decided to edit and blog some images from this shoot as I’m excited to share the day. The blog goes live and the next morning Junebug weddings reaches out asking if they could feature the wedding. Subsequently the images end up on Reddit and a few other sites and within a few days  I was contact by PetaPixel, Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan Magazine and Yahoo for interviews. The Today Show out of NYC even flew a team to interview Sara and Josh in their home about the entire experience. The images and their story over the course of a few weeks were probably seen by 15+ million people. 

Since all of that happened I went from one or two destination weddings a year to 80-90% of my bookings now being destination and I’ve since had the opportunity to travel back to Iceland 14 times with so many other wonderful couples. It’s been a crazy ride and it all started with this incredible couple.”