ASK ME ANYTHING:
This question speaks to the importance of creating something unique for each couple, feeling fulfilled as a photographer, but also balancing the honesty + goals of the couple you’re photographing.
My inspiration for creativity
I’m writing this from my perspective + brand, but it won’t necessarily align with all wedding photographers. First and foremost, I believe it is my job to document the reality and honesty of a wedding day. The couples that choose me as their wedding photographer cherish and value this. This means that if things are going wrong and crazy, I will be documenting the table catching on fire (thankfully this has only happened once or twice). It’s easy to capture beauty and love, but the truth can be much more difficult. The truth involves people letting their guards down. Crying without hiding their faces. Expressing their love freely, even though I am in their presence. It requires people letting me into their most sacred spaces to come out on the other side with raw photos. When I walk into a wedding, my top priority is memorializing what actually happened. This fulfills me. This is my creativity. Raw imagery is always unique because no two stories are the same.
Communicate clearly through your images
Every photographer has a voice, and it is heard and seen in their images. Some photographers see light. Others see moments. Some see editorial spreads and details. You could ask five photographers to photograph the same day, and the photos would be completely different. We all compartmentalize it in our own way, and there is no right or wrong. What can be wrong, however, is if your couples don’t know what they are hiring you for. Your portfolio should speak clearly to your voice and what makes your heart sing. This will attract similarly-minded people. Not everyone wants raw imagery, and not everyone hires me. What I’m getting at is that it is also your job to serve your couples based on what they are expecting out of you. If you can clearly show what type of imagery you are passionate about, you will find those who seek the same.
All of this is to say, I get to make art, document, and serve my couples well because I am clear about what I deliver. I require a consult with every prospective couple so that it is all on the table. I listen to their desires and priorities with their wedding day and make sure I am able to serve their needs to the fullest. I honestly explain how I approach a wedding day so that they can decide if we’re a good fit.
Collaborate on timeline
I also want to note the importance of collaborating with your couples on their timeline. Here, you will be able to input your experience and listen to their priorities for their day. A well thought out timeline will help them to not feel frazzled because you’ve given all events enough breathing room. You can also express the importance of carving out portrait time in ideal light so that they have alone time, and you have time to create the art you’ve been hired for. Some couples will want more time for portraits, and others will want their day to be more focused on time with their guests. Listen and provide the experience your couples want.
It takes time
If you feel like you cannot be creative on a wedding day, it is probably because your couples are expecting something else out of you, whether through a miscommunication or a misdirection in your portfolio. Your voice also comes with time. It took me years, decades even, to develop this. In the early years I would feel overwhelmed by timelines, wedding stress, organizing all of the things, lens choice, gear, focusing, exposures…to the point that creativity always had a back seat because I was inexperienced. With time, these elements became second-nature, and the creativity was able to flow naturally.
Nothing is off the table. If I cannot answer it, I will find someone who will. Ask your question here.