Wedding photography is a genre that can be predictable and uninspiring. For the most part, you know what to expect when looking at wedding photos. Usually you will see the obligatory ceremony shots, the first kiss, posed photos with the bridal party and family members, cutting of the cake, etc. Fundamentally this makes sense. After all, the point of capturing photos at your wedding is to have visual momentos of those cherish-able memories. Shouldn’t wedding photography be approached with creative vision? How does a photographer get past the standard minimum requirements and infuse wedding photos with imagination?
The Business Approach to Wedding Photography
Some photographers view weddings as a paycheck. Their goal is to book as many weddings as possible in order to maximize profitability. The mindset becomes quantity over quality, maybe not so much in the image quality itself, but the composition of those images. Photographers of this notion want to get through a wedding quickly and move on to the next. There is not necessarily anything wrong with that, especially if weddings are the photographer’s primary source of income. It’s simply just a business approach.
Photographers taking this path may end up delivering quality photos. All of the key moments throughout that day could be represented well with high quality results. A photography business wouldn’t be around very long if it didn’t deliver upon customer expectations. Some customers may have lower expectations than others, not really knowing what they may be missing. Many photographers know this and capitalize upon it.
If a wedding is undertaken with a tactical agenda, is there room left for creativity? Is the photographer evaluating all of the shot opportunities within the setting of the event, or are they looking to just get the shots they need and move on? There can be several factors that make a photo great. Composition is arguably one of the most important aspects of a great image. If a photographer is focused on just getting through the event, photo composition may not live up to the potential offered by the situation and surroundings. In addition to that, the photographer may not be maximizing their images with post-processing(color correction, touch ups, air brushing). Photographers have been known to export images straight from the camera to the client. If they do post-process the images, the work may be outsourced, separating the photographer from the creative process. This can be a cold, sterile approach to wedding photography and a clear demonstration of business practices trumping artistic vision.
My Artistic Approach to Weddings
There was a time when I didn’t want to shoot weddings. I actually avoided it. I didn’t want to be victimized by the business aspects overpowering my artistic creation. In general, I was never a fan of wedding photography. The genre seemed to conflict with my style and the styles of photography that sparked my business. When clients started asking me about shooting weddings, I really had to evaluate what that would mean to me. Would I be able to infuse my style into the photos and expand beyond the basics? In 2011, I decided to take a stab at it.
I quickly realized I could really maximize the locations around the wedding events. I didn’t have to confine myself to the obligatory shots, rather I could take an artistic approach by capturing memorable and scenic shots with the bride and groom. It became a goal of mine to deliver at least one really epic shot. I wanted my clients to have a great image that could be printed on a large gallery wrap and hung as the main centerpiece on their living room wall. I found myself pushing the bride and groom. I would convince them to pose for some photos beyond the norm or their list of desired shots. Some were hesitant and questioned what I was trying to achieve. In the end, everyone was pleasantly surprised with the results and they appreciated the effort I put forward to create them.
Without pushing my clients and really taking the time to exploit the locations around the event, I wouldn’t have generated the same results. Everyone wants the people shots, the close ups, and the key moments captured. Not everyone thinks about the landscape shot or integrating more of the surroundings into some of the photos. By pushing back and experimenting with different shot opportunities, I ended up exceeding expectations and delivering photos beyond what is traditionally expected. From a business perspective this might not make sense. I am ultimately creating more work for myself during the shoot and while post-processing the images. The end result and satisfaction of my clients is well worth the extra effort.
2013 and Beyond
I have several weddings already booked for 2013 and I am excited for the potential they bring. My first wedding this year is in early April at the Peoria Glen Oak Zoo. The zoo will provide some great backdrop scenery and I look forward to exploiting this to its full potential.
Look out for posts from these wedding events. To keep up on my wedding photos and see my current work, check out my Portfolio Wedding Gallery.