My philosophy for wedding photography
June 23, 2011 , Personal
I have been lucky enough lately to be meeting with a ton of couple’s planning their 2012 wedding. And one of the things I talk a lot about is my philosophy. I want my clients to *get me* as much as I want to get to know them. And I’m constantly reaching out there and trying to put my thoughts into words. But one time my words just flowed. What I wrote actually made me break into a smile, pat myself on the back, and be like ‘Yup, you nailed it!! That’s exactly it!’ And it was featured in my sponsored post on A Practical Wedding a few months back. But it’s worth reposting here:
Why I love working with APW clients:
Last year, when my first sponsored post went up, I’d only had two APW couples. And I loved them. This year, it’s been crazy: something like 30% of my couples find me on APW. And it’s great because I know when an APW reader contacts me, we’re going to be a good fit because we share the same ideas about what a wedding is for. They have their values right: they know there is more to a wedding than vintage bikes, trendy clothes, balloons, and fake mustaches (though, who doesn’t love a fake mustache?). They come over, we have wine and cheese, they pet my cats if they’re not allergic, and then, what do you know, after the wedding we’re going to Super-Bowl parties together, having dinner at each other’s houses. I even had a couple in which one partner graduated from the same PhD program my wife is in!
I always tell my clients it’s really important to click because on your wedding day, I’m going to be with you allllllll day…and for several months after (or years, if you do the baby thing). My clients therefore tend to be people I would pick as friends. And all the clients I’ve gotten through APW fall under that category.
My approach to wedding photography comes out of my approach to my work as an artist. In art school, working outside the boundaries and expectations of commercial work, I was able to focus intently on executing the image in my mind, an image that had to be both aesthetically satisfying and effective as a mode of communication. Because of my training and my weird, hyper-visual brain, I see the world in terms of the image I can create. So when I’m shooting a wedding and I see the image in my mind, I will do whatever it takes to GET THAT SHOT. Sometimes that involves bodily contortions that end in serious bruising the next day, but when I upload the photos to my computer, it’s totally worth it. I also approach digital photography the way I approach film, so when I shoot my work is only half done. I view photoshop like a batch of darkroom chemicals, necessary to my producing the image I’ve imagined.
I live, eat, breathe photography. I am never happier than when I am shooting. My clients sometimes laugh at me because we’ll be walking down the street during an engagement shoot and I’ll be like, “THERE. RIGHT THERE. NOW.” And then, when I get the shot, I’m kind of a personal sound-effects machine. I love APW clients because they get it. They actually want to know what artists outside the wedding world inspire me. They want to hear about my book art or my feminist digital installations. Because the same desire to communicate, to tell a story in an aesthetically compelling way, motivates my wedding photography. Plus, they love my sound-effects.
I talk a lot about aesthetics and communication, but the reason I started in this industry was because I had something to say. Namely, “Where are the f*cking gay people? Where are the people of color? Where are the rip-your-heart-out emotionally gorgeous weddings minus the trendy hipster-gear? Where are the over-size-two people?” These questions drive me as a wedding photographer and as co-founder of So You’re EnGAYged, and that’s why my weddings run the gamut from a Catholic high-mass to a lesbian hand-fastening ceremony. I’m not here to show you models in a field with a piano. Yes, it’s super-pretty. Yes, it’s great portfolio material. But IT’S NOT REAL.
I love real people in love. I love people choosing to commit publicly to each other. Those commitments look different and ARE different. They mean different things to different people. But at the end of the day, it’s a celebration of love. Let’s face it: your dress isn’t going to be in style forever. Your wife might find that grad school gives her a few wrinkles. But your pictures aren’t about trendy clothes and perfect skin, despite what the wedding-industrial-complex tells you. Because your wedding isn’t about those things either. And in each wedding I shoot, whether the couple is 20 or 50, gay or straight, black, white or anything else, I strive to tell the story of what your wedding IS about: love, community, and commitment. [Kelly gets down from soap-box]