|On Being Real and Black Orchids....|
|Wednesday, 17 October 2012 16:35|
ON BEING REAL AND BLACK ORCHIDS...
I've often wondered what Brides really expect from their wedding photographs. If the expectations before the wedding, when Brides are all bright eyed and bushy tailed, and after when the excitement has worn off, are the same. This, along with recently reading a blogpost about the “realness” and documentation of wedding photography, made me think – what do couples really want?
First lets see how real, honest or documenting is defined in the dictionary:
Documentary - emphasizing or expressing things as perceived without distortion of personal feelings, insertion of fictional matter, or interpretation; "objective art"
Real - Free of pretense, falsehood, or affectation
Honest - Not deceptive or fraudulent; genuine sincere; frank
Documentary - Somewhat more restrictive than one might have thought, right? But the key point for me was that it is without distortion of personal feelings and without interpretation. That really got me thinking – the very expectation of creativity makes true documentary pretty hard to achieve and yet every photographer will claim to be more creative than the next. Yet creativity and documentary don’t seem to go hand-in-hand at all… Creativity suggests some form of personal interpretation, after all, and interpretation (according to the dictionary) makes the true meaning null and void. Every wedding photographer documents the day to some extent but is it truly possible to do it without putting any of your own experiences, your own feelings or your own frame of reference into the final product? Not to mention our editing, which just adds another layer of feeling, style and interpretation to the documented “reality”. By shooting digital and then editing like it's film, how real is that? Even the things we omit ads to your perception of “real”. By specifying to clients what you will and will not shoot, are you real? We should all be careful when using the words “real” and “documenting”, because where do we draw the line at what's real or not, is make-up real, is editing your images at all – real? To what extent is our final product really free of interpretation?
Real and Honest - Real to me is such an objective concept. It's easy to verify whether a diamond is real or not, but how do you put a measure on the “realness” of feelings or the realness of an image. Many brides have their perfect dress and the prefect décor in mind since before the big question is even popped – maybe even since when they were little girls. Planning and dreaming of your perfect dress, your fairytale venue and every little detail of your big day is, in my opinion, almost as much fun as the actual day itself and for a bride the wedding day is seeing all those plans and dreams become a reality. As a photographer, I think capturing every detail in the fairytale manner the bride originally envisaged it is ultimately what is important. But again, here we have 2 concepts completely foreign to each other. Reality vs Dreams… and they don’t really go hand in hand either, do they?
I've been to weddings where there were lots of crying and lots of laughter and capturing those moments are essential and easy, but I've been to weddings where the couple are more reserved, not as giddy with anticipation or not comfortable with public displays of affection... so then capturing that “emotion” of the day becomes a little less easy...
The question, arises am I starting to become a cookie cutter photographer?... Ultimately once you've developed your own style, all your weddings start to have a look and feel, and you are then booked for that exact “cookie-cutter” reason. Even if you claim that you try and shoot every wedding uniquely...
I do blog each and every wedding and that to me is one aspect that I try to be "real" in, selective blogging is a very controversial subject in the photographic community. Some feel that their images are their brand and therefore choose which to portray on the blogs/websites to strengthen that brand, and that’s not wrong. But others like me feel that by doing that you're creating a false sense of real. I like to show all my weddings and to me that is a part of me being real, even if it then starts to look like I'm producing the same product over and over again. At least I don't choose the weddings that I feel are real and inadvertently denying the ones I don't their own real, just because they look a little too much like ones I've already shot. We like to think every wedding is different and they are up to an extent, but the mere institution of marriage is very traditional and dare I say “cookie-cutter”.
The beauty of the industry is that however you see it and whatever you want – there is a photographer out there for you. When choosing your wedding photographer – decide what's real to you.
Are you a girl who couldn't care less about how her hair looks on her wedding, as long as its clean (LOL), whose idea of décor is less is more, who feels that Bridal portraits are not "real" and pretentious, who wants a photographer who just plays fly on the wall and captures the moments of the day as they unfold...
Or are you a diva at heart, do you want those glamour photos of you showing your best angles, your Christian Louboutin shoes and your gorgeous black orchids flown in from Brazil the previous night... who spend copious amounts of time on planning the perfect day to showcase you and your husband to be's je ne sais quoi. You guys know you love each other and you will have that forever, but those black orchids are wilting as we speak. Chop Chop Mr. Photographer.
Or do you want an all rounder photographer, who realises that you spent time on folding that 1000 Origami Cranes, and you want at least one nice “formal” portrait of yourself – because lets face it who of us is EVER going to look THAT good ever AGAIN. But you also want to remember your Gran sleeping in church, your pageboy refusing to walk down the isle and the friends laughing at some old story about how you guys met.
For each of you beautiful ladies and gentlemen out there, there is that perfect photographer. You are all different from each other and so are us old photoroos...but different doesn't make us less relevant or real...
I would love to hear from brides to be and past brides . What you expect/ed out of your wedding photography and what you would change now that you've received the end result. Please comment with your thoughts, you can do it anonymously and you don't have to name your photographer. I think it might be an eye opener as to what Brides really want and what photographers THINK they want.
Thanks to Lauren Kriedemann for being my soundboard and Jan Dorfling for being my proof reader - I am Afrikaans and from Upington after all - a girl needs all the help she can get ;)