I think I'm a fairly good photographer. Am I one of the best? Ha, not even close. There are other photographers out there with more creativity in their small toe than I have in my entire body. As with anything, you only get better with time, but I believe that each person brings something special to their work - something that comes naturally and effortlessly. Although I am far from where I would like to be, I do believe that my strength is being able to tell a story with my photos, especially when it comes to wedding photography. I think that's why I love weddings - because I am able to see a story - a real, live story - being played out in front of my eyes. My job is to capture it and sometimes mold it to create photos that the bride and groom can look back on and re-live their day. A wedding goes by so quickly. It's a whirlwind of emotion, highs, sometimes lows, stress, a million people talking to you at once, and it's an out of body experience. So, as a wedding photographer, I believe that it is my job to remind my clients how they FELT on their wedding day. My job isn't to show them how beautiful they were (although that is nice too) or to show off how great and creative of a photographer I am (although that is also nice), my job is to TELL THEIR STORY. I've put together a little post that will show you how I photograph and then how I blog. When I blog a wedding, there is nothing I love more than going their their gallery of hundreds of photos and choosing the 50-75 images that will best tell their story. I don't always choose the most beautiful photos. I choose photos that make me smile, cry, laugh, and feel. Hopefully it does the same for anyone who is viewing the blog post.
The photo on the left is nice and I included it in their gallery, but my favorite? The photo on the right. This is the one that got blogged.
Here are two photos of basically the same thing...the bride as she first put on her dress and was looking in the mirror. Both pretty shots, but the one on the right? I hope that someday she can look back at this image and remember how she felt when she first put on her wedding dress. Her nerves, her excitement, and how much she loved her fiance on their wedding day. The photo on the right got blogged.
Here are two photos that are both moody, grainy black and whites. The top one did not get blogged. The bottom one did. Why? The top one is a pretty photo, but the bottom one spoke to me - sheer emotion. You can actually see light reflecting off the tears in her eyes. She is wiping them away and one of her bridesmaids is standing next to her, fanning her. What a beautiful moment.
When you're photographing a wedding, it is your job to capture not only candid moments, but also more traditional family photos. This can be boring and tedious...if you let it. See the photo on the left of the 4 sisters? That's your basic, traditional shot and something that I give all of my clients. Once I get that shot, I like to loosen it up and that's how we get the photo on the left. Guess which one I will blog?
Here is another great moment between sisters. At Christina's wedding, her 3 sisters gave their speech together. It was emotional, funny, and sweet. You can't really capture words in a still photograph, but you can capture the resulting emotion. The photo on the top is a basic, pulled back shot of the girls giving their speech. Does it makes you feel anything? Not really. So, when I blogged, I blogged the 2nd photo. All of a sudden you can feel the love between the sisters.
Here is another example of a traditional family photo. Nice, and something that was included in their gallery, but the bottom photo was blogged. Yes, you can only see the top of the girl's heads, but the unique angle and dad's eye contact made for a unique family photo as they were on the dance floor sharing a sweet moment.
These are just a few examples. The best photographers make their viewers feel something...anything...when they look at their image. My goal is the same and yours should be too. Remember - just because a photo is pretty, that doesn't mean it's special. Think about how you can make your images special :)
I was using a wedding as an example, but this same concept can be applied to all types of photography, whether your a professional or not. Even if you're shooting with your iPhone and want some cute photos of your kids, don't force them to sit in front of something pretty and smile at you. Capture their genuine emotions, the things that make them THEM. Look for those moments, because trust me, they are there! Make sure that those are the images that you save and print. I promise you that in 10 years, you'll be glad you did.