The first stop the burgundy trolley made after the wedding wasn't Joe and Dana's former high school. The Flaccos booked a theater for an hour at the Cinemark 16 in Somerdale, N.J., a site that had sentimental value to the couple, according to Richman. As the bridal party entered the dark theater, they were handed boxes of popcorn and 3-D glasses. But walking in, Prezant didn't have a plan for what he would ask them to do next. He just went with the flow.
The bridal party filed into four rows of black leather seats. Timney stood on top of a seat a couple of rows in front of them, Dana's father spotting her as she held a light in the foreground. After snapping away for about 10 minutes, Prezant had come up with his idea for a grand finale.
"With Jason, it's not going to be that traditional line-everybody-up-and-smile," Mosier said. "It's more interactive and really allowing people to have fun and be engaged in what they're doing."
On the count of three, Prezant told them to pretend that they were watching the climactic scene in a scary horror movie — never mind that a family-friendly 3-D movie was playing on the big screen — and asked them to scream like banshees and toss their popcorn kernels in the air. With one take and many rapid-fire camera clicks, Prezant got his shot. "I felt kind of bad for the cleanup crew that I had to pick all the popcorn up," Prezant said sincerely. "But it was worth it in the end."
All on board and the Flacco wedding party was next off to Audubon High. When they arrived, Joe and Dana ran through a "Just Married" banner that the bridesmaids had made before the wedding. The guys ran around and posed in football stances. They couldn't care less that the sun was beating down on them and the temperatures were up in the high 80s. After a while, Prezant huddled them in front of a set of field goal posts and asked them to line up.
"They wanted to do something with football so my second photographer and I were like 'Joe, do a lineup. You organize it. You're the quarterback,' " Prezant said. "So he set everyone up … and we played off for that for a while. We had the guys crouch down in a lineup. [One groomsman] tried to hide a cup behind his leg, but he was not doing it well. Then they ran past the camera. It was pretty funny because Dana was the only one who didn't move. The photos were awesome."
Twelve days after the wedding, Prezant uploaded the untraditional portraits to his website. They went viral. Within 48 hours of publication, more than a million people had viewed the photos online. They appeared on mainstream media outlets such as Yahoo! and USA Today and all over the sports blogosphere on sites such as Deadspin, Busted Coverage and The Big Lead.
The headline of one post on Deadspin.com, a sports news and humor website, was "Joe Flacco's New Bride Is A Very Understanding Woman." But when reporters asked him about the photos at the start of training camp in late July, Flacco played down his role. "If you guys think I had anything to do with those pictures, you are crazy," Flacco said. "I honestly came up with none of the ideas, none of the poses. They were just all thought about by her and all my crazy brothers."
He wasn't leading the huddle as his wedding party was captured in the now-famous photos, but he was more than willing to go along with the game plan, said Prezant and others who were behind the scenes of the shoot in late June. Flacco was enthusiastic, engaged and cooperative. "Joe went with the flow of it. There was no resistance. It all happened in the moment," Mosier said. "He respected what Jason and I do and trusted what we were going to bring to the table and really went with it. I'd give suggestions and he would be like, 'Yeah, that's cool. Let's do that.' "
And because Flacco was willing to let loose, the pictures gave Web-savvy Ravens fans a glimpse at what the sometimes stiff quarterback was like away from television cameras and tape recorders.
Normally after a wedding shoot, Prezant's website would garner between 100 and 150 page views. In three days, it got nearly 200,000 hits from 43 countries — and it would have been more had his website not crashed the first day. He was shooting another wedding and was helpless.
"It just exploded. It was horrible because I'm hearing that my website is crashing and only 10 percent of the people are getting through," said Prezant, who now has a new website and who has gotten three times as many wedding requests over the past three months. "It was a little frustrating, but the wedding I was shooting was also awesome, so that helped."
Prezant and Mosier hope that the popularity of the Flacco photos persuades other newlyweds to give more time on their wedding days to photographers — and to give them their full trust, too.