I say it on a regular basis… I am a documentary photographer that shoots weddings…
In a very recent issue of my awesomest newsletter (which, shame on you if you’re not subscribed already), I talk about my non-traditional approach to family and wedding photography. You can check it out here.
The good news is that documentary wedding photography gets a guest spot on CNN… woot woot! And, If you want to read the article (you should), click on that screenshot.
My interpretation of wedding photography is extremely similar to my colleague’s so I’ll do a little exercise here and answer the questions CNN asked of Ian (without looking at his answers) as if they had interviewed me. I think that’s kind of fun.
What aspects of wedding photography appeal to you as a photographer?
I love documenting weddings because they are essentially stories packaged and tied up with a pretty little bow on top. They have clear beginnings, middle and and ends… the stress of the day always brings out an amped up version of people’s personalties. It is about drama, emotions, fun, tears and love. It is beautiful. I’ve never been to a wedding I didn’t love. It’s a celebration of lives coming together. It’s about new beginnings. It’s about being human. All that interested me deeply and I felt naturally drawn to weddings.
In your view, how has the lucrative wedding industry evolved for photographers?
When I started photography, we were at the height of the “boho chic” style and hipsterism, especially in photography. There were a lot of warn and earthy tones and of taking pictures in fields. it was very Pinterest and it was everywhere!! It was a fad. I was just starting back then and even I tried to make my photos look a bit like that… but I hated myself for it. When it comes to photography, I can’t help but being my own. I was not able to dissociate my art from my self and I could not turn out photos I felt proud of if they were imitating a style I did not believe in. I had to figure out a way to create art that would stand on its own and my interests in photography were photojournalism and documentary photographers from the 1950s. I think you can see that in my photos today.
Your photos capture lots of very spontaneous moments. Do you find that people feel pressured to act a certain way when a photographer is around? How do you get those candid shots?
In talk to the couples and families I shoot with about what they should expect from my behavior at their wedding or their family shoot. I expect people to feel a little weird around me for the first 30 minutes and then they invariably stop caring that I’m around taking photos. In fact, I’ll take it a step further to help the process. I talk to them. I engage them during my sessions. I crack jokes, I have conversations, I tease a little. All of this is to get people to trust me that I’m here for their story. I’m not here to make them look bad. I’m here to service the story and I truly mean that. That’s why candid moments are best to tell those stories.
The only ones that I feel truly person for the camera without shame or self-restraint are the kids. And I love it. Kids are honest in that sense. They cannot escape from themselves unlike we adults do so often.
Do you have a favorite photo from the series?
My favorite photos are invariably the ones where I see true emotions in them. When I find photos where the bride, groom or even better the dad seeing his daughter getting married get emotional, it is photography gold for me. The power of that raw moment is precious for my couples… especially years down the line. Posed portraits of couples tell me nothing about who they are but a candid photo of them forgetting that I am there absolutely will. Kids pulling funny faces or crying or having a tantrum is always amazing because it is real. It happened. I was there. I want my couples to remember those moments because that’s what they will remember and laugh about 10 years from now.
How do you find your clients, and what kind of relationship do you form with them before and during the wedding?
I find my clients by talking to like-minded people but people find me and mostly chose me because of me. I care about them and I care for their legacy. My photos are aimed for that. Anybody who’s met knows that I am genuinely interested in people and their stories. I love shooting street portraits of strangers and some of the best photos I have ever taken were on the streets talking and photographing strangers. As I mentioned earlier, I am involved with my couples and their families. I’ll get on the dance floor, I’ll play with the kids and make funny faces.
With all that said, my first impressions are very very important in my style of shooting that’s why I like to come to a wedding knowing the bare minimum necessary. My art comes out as more genuine that way because I express my experience of the day through my camera.
How do your clients react to seeing your photos?
As I’ve mentioned, people hire me because of me, my style, my approach. They want someone they can rely on to be there for the story and they usually are very excited because to see the photos as they have no idea what I captured or not.