Zack Arias recently blogged about wedding photography. It’s pretty long and I doubt you’ll be able to get through it all unless you’re really bored, or you’re a dork like me. But the jist of it is that wedding photography is often treated like the bastard cousin of all other fields of photography. He says the industry actually deserves some of it due to its shallow trend-driven subculture. He says wedding photographers actually have one of the toughest jobs in photography, but that the industry as a whole is doing them a disservice. In sum, the industry just plain lacks originality and discourages risk taking and individuality.
If I were a smart businessman…or a businessman of any type really…I would be marketing myself as a wedding photographer. Fact is, I like shooting them. I like that everybody’s usually really happy and ready to jump straight to the reception to get their party on. It’s fun. Sure it’s stressful shooting, but in the end it’s a cool way to spend a few hours with a bunch of strangers. Most importantly(?), it’s where the big buck$ are. But I agree with Zack, I want to shoot it my way. I hate resorting to the cliches in portrait photography- tall grass, brick walls, train tracks, sunsets- you know them all too well. I WILL shoot them, however, when bartering for shots I really want to take.
For example, this is horrible. This is a perfect example of everything that can be wrong with a photograph. Bad pose, bad angle, the lighting could be worse, but it’s a bad idea anyway. I challenge you to find a photo this bad on some of the more popular wedding photographer blogs in your area. You won’t. It’s pretty bad. But I’m still showing it. Why? Because it’s cheesy, silly, and fun. And Nick and Lauren don’t take themselves too seriously, unless it’s called for (a hint of what’s to come). And I don’t mind making fun of myself either (sometimes). And that makes it fun for everyone because the resulting photos become much more of a collaboration than just an awkward exercise is model management. They’re friends of mine, so that automatically makes it easier for me. (Some might argue otherwise, though.) But what Nick and Lauren didn’t expect when they asked me to shoot their wedding in September was that I already had a few ideas for “engagement” photos. These weren’t going to be your average engagement photos though, but I promised to give them some of those, too, just in case my conceptual ideas fell flat.
This is pretty cheesy too. The sign originally said “Keep Out”, but I thought a heart was much more appropriate <gag>. I prefer this, though.
We went up by a lake, too.
That’s cool. But I prefer these…
Anyway, I stressed about these a lot more than I care to admit. And they’re no where near as technically challenging as some of the ones we were going to take later. I think it’s because I’m trying to capture someone else’s vision in those situations rather than my own, i.e., pretty sunset pic- check.
I’d call these more “traditional” photos, but really they’re just “boring”. Don’t get me wrong, they serve their purpose. Mom and dad, and maybe even Nick and Lauren, will inevitably like some of these more than the ones I prefer. That’s okay with me, I get it. And I gave them plenty of those. But the only way I’m going to spend more time taking engagement photos is if I have the opportunity to create some with personality, and preferably it’s yours.
I won’t spend a lot of time talking about the ideas behind the following photos. Hopefully they tell a story on their own, but I will tell you they’re not easy to make. I provided a vision based on what I know about Nick and Lauren. (However, this should in no way imply that Nick is addicted to his kegerator and all things extreme, that Lauren has literally grown a man over the past 5 years, that Nick would surf Neal Creek while catching salmon if he could, that Lauren’s canning and overall healthy eating kick is completely out of control, or that either of them prefer full court to table tennis. ) I also provided a technical ability, and Nick and Lauren trusted me enough to go all out to make the photos as good as they could be. They had a couple ideas of their own as well that turned out great. I can’t tell you enough how important their commitment was to making the whole experience a success.
In other words, THIS kicks ass. THIS is how photography can be done originally and intentionally, even for something as formal as a wedding. THIS is an experience that results in images with humor, perspective, and personality, not just pretty posing in picturesque places.
Then we got really silly…
Finally, a couple that are over the top. I say this because I knew they would have a very obvious photoshopped look (as if the last one didn’t…er, I mean, it took a long time to bury him, we really should’ve photoshopped). The thing is, I’m not a photoshop nerd by any means. I know enough to get by with what I need to do most of the time, but when it comes to complex compositing, I’m a newbie. I guess I could spend another dozen hours making these more realistic, but I like the whimsical feel they have. I’d much rather have the fakeness in my face, than hiding behind phony smiles in front of sappy sunsets and other such nonsense 🙂
And the coup
de grace…(excuse my bad french, for the longest time this said coup d’etat :))
(Yes, Nick is actually on his surfboard in the middle of Neal Creek.)
So yeah, I love these. And I love Nick and Lauren’s enthusiasm to do them. It’s really their willingness to have fun that makes them so fun for me to look at.
That’s it. This is my idea of “engagement” photography. It’s really just an editorial approach to the same event. Weditorial. There, I coined it (or did I? Probably not. But my photos look a lot more interesting than that blog.) 🙂
Anyway, the idea of people paying so much money for the same photos that everyone else has makes me hurt inside, because we can do so much more. If you want some photography that really says something about you, get a hold of me. Wedding, engagement, family, kids, whatever it is, I want to give you more than nice pictures. And I’m dying to work with more folks like Nick and Lauren who recognize the value of collaborating on a unique experience that will truly last their lifetimes.