post-modern love

Meet Noah Kalina, the Zuckerberg Wedding Photographer and Former Viral-Video Sensation

The image of a glowing, sun-dappled Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, posted to Zuck’s Facebook account along with a status update after their surprise backyard wedding on Saturday, became instantly iconic. More than a million people “liked” it on the groom’s profile page. What photographer wouldn’t be delighted to get such a widespread audience for his work?

Well, perhaps the one who didn’t get much credit for it. Noah Kalina, the Brooklyn-based photographer who took the shot, tweeted out his own credit, but the photo on Zuckerberg’s timeline — the one that went viral — didn’t have his name anywhere on it. (A subsequent post crediting Kalina has only six likes). The introduction of photo-sharing was a crucial part of Facebook’s financial success — all those amateur uploads helped make Zuckerberg a very wealthy man — and so it seems oddly fitting that Zuckerberg reflexively treated the professional photo, snapped by someone who originally made his fame through social sharing, like one of those amateur shots.

Announcing one’s happy nuptial news via Facebook is hardly exclusive to the site’s founder. It seems like just about every couple does it, with varying degrees of instantaneous; for several years now, the Internet has been littered with videos of couples updating their relationship status from the altar. The New York Times “Vows” column, which turned twenty this past weekend, feels increasingly like a relic of another time (even as it’s added multimedia and same-sex unions), beloved by a certain subset of readers for precisely that anachronistic formality.

A blockbuster couple like Chan and Zuckerberg would have been a dream come true for the section’s writers. Two-page spread! No, let’s give ‘em three! Instead, Zuckerberg, whose entire professional project is in many ways a digital-age society page/gossip column, went with an Internet-native photographer who made his name with a viral video way back in 2006.  “Everyday,” a mesmerizing time-lapse self-portrait taken daily for six years, launched Kalina from a career taking pictures of the interiors of New York bars and restaurants to lecturing and showing his work all over the world and doing lucrative work with glossy magazines. (And, yet, creature of the Internet that he is, Kalina occasionally takes time to submit photos to a reader contest on the Tumblr Ca$h Cats.)

In 2007, the Times highlighted his work in a show called “We’re All Photographers Now,” at the Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne, quoting the museum’s director’s Kalina-inspired musings. “Digital technology, computers, software and the Internet multiply the number of people with access to taking and viewing pictures, ” said William Ewing, not quite two years after Facebook began allowing users to post photo albums. “That is increasing the variety and creativity in how people take pictures, and what they do with them.” Suffice it to say that Zuckerberg couldn’t agree more.

Noah Kalina, the Zuckerberg Wedding Photographer