Why I shoot the way I shoot.....
Why I shoot the way I shoot.....
'Why I shoot the way I shoot....' A strange title for a blog post for sure, but I wanted to put down in words why I approach wedding photography in the way I do, and why I maybe don't look to shoot in other ways... So here goes.
A few months ago, during a meeting with a prospective client, we were talking about my photography style and she described it as 'Brave'. I was somewhat taken aback at the time but also super flattered. You see, whilst I wouldn't use the term myself, it was great to hear someone I hadn't met before tell me that my approach to my work was different and that it stood out to her from all of the other photographers she had been looking at until finding me. It was lovely to hear.
When I got home after the meeting (which went very well by the way... the lady booked me and their wedding was AWESOME!) I got to thinking about her comment ... trying to see in my work what she saw.
In order to makes some sort of sense of this comment it helpds understand that sort of person I am. I am very quiet and shy... a total introvert. I'm the sort of person that would prefer to stay home rather than go out and party. I prefer meaningful conversations with one person to making small talk in a large group. Believe it or not, this really does affect the way I photograph weddings. With the exception of the family groups, I try and blend in. I want to be invisible. I don't want to make things happen. I don't want people to react to my presence (even though it does happen).
My idea of taking a good photograph is to capture a meaningful moment between two people... a smile, a hug, a tear or two.
I am simply not someone who could ask a couple to run through a cornfield and do a star jump in front of my camera. Nothing wrong with this of course... it's just not me.
So I suppose my introversion means I am more suited to observing quietly and trying to capture those moments that just happen. I wait for moments... I don't create them or take the same images at every wedding. I don't rely on gimmicks. I just trust that the moments will come which I suppose is 'brave' to some extent.
Here's one of those moments in time... Mother and Daughter taking time out together on the morning of the wedding. This is not posed. It is a real and honest.
And then of course there is aesthetics... the style or look of my work.
As digital photography has progressed over the years the scope for artistic expression has grown and grown. To be honest, it has become far easier to make a great looking image. It's the Instagram effect... add a filter to a half decent shot and it will look great. And then there are styles of weddings themselves. The popularity of 'Vintage' weddings has meant that images with a certain look have also grown in popularity.
To be honest, I've struggled with this over the years. Do I buy the latest Lightroom preset so that my work looks like this or that super popular photographer? Should I edit my work heavily, or not touch it at all? It has been a constant source of uncertainty for me. The pressure to follow the crowd has been great.
But, the one overarching principle I have tried to stick to is that I want my clients images to look as fresh in twenty years time as they did on the day they received them. Whilst fashions, hairstyles, cars etc. might date images, I don't want a filter that is popular right now to do so. So, with the exception of a few tweaks here and there I try to keep my work as honest as it was on the day itself.
There has been for a number of years now, a really popular light, airy and bright look to wedding photographs. They look awesome, but they are not for me.
I like mystery... I like mood... I like shadows.
I suppose this comes from being far more inspired by TV and Movies than I am by other photographers. And even the photographers that do inspire me are not wedding photographers (look up Saul Leiter for one). The intrigue and interest that cinematographers can create just blows my mind. Just watch The Godfather (the greatest movie of all time by the way). The lighting and mood is just amazing. Other directors like Christopher Nolan, Steven Soderbergh etc.... just awesome. And even TV now looks stunning. Sky Atlantic is a never ending source of inspiration (Game of Thrones of course, but Ray Donovan, Fortitude etc.... just brilliant)! Not to mention Peaky Blinders (which I love for a number of reasons).
So, I shoot for the shadows... not the light and airy look, because that's what I thinks looks wonderful.
So why did I bother to write this post?
I wanted to give you a chance to understand why I shoot the way I do and why my images look the way they do.
Are they unique? Not really...
Are they trendy? No (at least I hope not!)
Are they the best wedding photographs you will ever see? No (although that's totally subjective).
But they are what I see. They are reflection of who I am. It is why I love doing what I do.
Hopefully this hasn't come across as being to pretentious and hasn't completely bored you to tears. If not, why not check out of few more of my images which I hope won't completely disprove everything I have just written!
Oh, and you should watch Ray Donovan.