As the wedding season draws to a close, I’d like to take the opportunity to share some of the things that drive me in what I do. I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a wedding photographer. Now, you might think: ‘What’s there to think about? It’s someone who comes around on your wedding day and takes some pretty pictures!’. Well, yes, that’s true, and that’s how I used to look at my job as well. All that changed this year, though.
I used to think wedding photography was mostly about technical skills: the right light, equipment and settings. That’s just the beginning, though, and I find there is a greater story which lies beyond all that. As I reflect on the things I’ve learned this year, I’ve tried to distill four points which, in my opinion, help a photographer look beyond the obvious and enable him to capture that what lies beyond.
One of the merits of photography, to me, is that it pushes you to increase your awareness for everyday things, and see the beauty in them. A spontaneously formed composition, a beautifully designed building, or something as simple as a few rays of sunshine burning through the clouds: photography invites you to look at them with amazement and from a different angle every time. It sounds simple enough, but it takes effort to force your brain to look for these moments, and turn away from its default setting of not giving things more than a moment’s notice.
- Slowing down
Tied to my point about increased awareness, it helps to slow down. My rekindled love for film photography has helped me to do just that. Over the summer, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed shooting film portraits of family and friends on my new –to me- Pentax 645N.
With digital cameras pumping out images at 10 frames per second, it’s tempting to become a bit trigger-happy and shoot away. Sometimes though, the high burst rate gives you a false sense of security because, surely, one of those 20 near-identical shots must be a ‘winner’… right? Well, sometimes yes, but more often than not, no. Shooting film, where every click equals the sound of €3 fleeing your bank account, made me realize it can be more beneficial to stay away from the camera trigger for a few seconds longer, examine the photo in more detail and with more thought, than indulging in an easy burst of trigger-happy laziness.
I’ve never shot as many weddings on a season as this year. At the beginning of the year, I felt a bit worried, thinking maybe my passion for wedding photography would diminish towards the end of the season. Today, quite some weddings later, I am happy to report that’s not the case, and my passion for telling beautiful stories through photos is higher than ever. I’ve noticed that shooting a beautiful wedding story will put a smile on my face for a week, and that it makes me truly, truly happy. If there’s one piece of advice I could give to prospective clients: apart from the obvious quality of work, go for a photographer whose face lights up when you start discussing your special day. You want a photographer who’ll be there for you because he loves his job, and who is motivated by telling the best possible story of your day.
Lastly, I’ve come to appreciate the beauty in emotions even more than before. The more weddings I shoot, the more I’ve come to realize these emotions lie in little things, which are rather elusive in nature and require an alert eye. Love, I have learnt, is not about the big gestures. It’s about the everyday things: the look that says ‘You’re my everything’, the heartfelt embrace, the unscripted moments of tenderness. Those are the kind of moments you want to remember about your wedding day, and those are the moments I want to capture for you so you can enjoy them for eternity.
I believe that by combining above points, wedding photography can amount to more than the sum of its parts. If done well, I think a wedding reportage should be about more than individual photos, and tell a complete story. The greater story, of your special day.
It’s been a big year, a good year, and I am extremely grateful to everyone who has helped to make it so: clients who believe in what I do, the support from my friends and family, and the love of my ever-supportive wife Marta. From the bottom of my heart; thank you.