Not for the first time in recent weeks I have seen ‘wedding photography’ chucked around on social media, with gushing praise, and much adulation. Much of what I have seen can definitely be described as decent photography, but wedding photography? Not as I see it. I think photographers, professional or amateur have a duty to sit down and ask themselves why they are at a wedding.
Us photographers have a duty to our clients, to record their day. The feelings, the emotions, the key people. It is not our day. Although we undoubtably have a key role to play it is not an excuse to gather as much attention as possible with a few over-processed images on Instagram, with some idea we found on a random strobist forum somewhere. Our task is to blend in, and capture – wait for it – relationships and romance. Not willy waving nonsense with props which wouldn’t look out of place in a photobooth or the circus. I spend thirty minutes with the bride and groom, capturing a bit of romance. That’s it. Anything else is ruining their day.
I guess this is the problem when someone sees a way to make a quick buck on his days off from the real job, it is basically not as important to them as it is to the working pros. I have looked at some of these posts online, and asked if the photographer was even aware which part of the day was ‘the wedding’ as it is not about wedding/romance/relationship. I don’t even know if he/she was at the wedding or just rocked up afterwards with a trailer full of new toys.
I’ve seen circus-like gimmicks, I’ve seen dead poses which look like the couple either just met on a blind date, or hate each other. I’ve seen couples superimposed/photoshopped into composite images. I just don’t get it. At all.
“But it is hip John” I hear you cry. “This is cool and trendy.” Is it f*ck. In five years time couples will wonder why they even allowed this nonsense to happen. I regularly get couples, hotels, etc talking about photographers who take the couple away for ages, and could never understand why, but now I do. Five years ago I said the same about ‘vintage’ photography, which basically meant getting the couple to hold boards with messages on, and then piss on the prints to make them look all yellow and faded. It has gone and the albums are now being hidden away.
My photography will never appeal to everybody – I know this. Not every client wants a documentary approach, some will want cheese, some will want to spend hours on posed pictures, hell some people even want spot colour. Others just want something different. I am cool with that. I just do not understand how people can’t take a step back and ask “is this actually a wedding photograph?”. My day is about the couple, making people laugh if I can, and generally capturing the relationships between couples, families, friends and telling the story of the day. I definitely want them all to remember me, but as being easy going and fun, and creating some memories of the day. I don’t want them to look back in two years time and think “oh the photographer with his back full of party tricks, who made us spend two hours jumping through hoops like performing seals just so he could get likes on social media.” When I set a photo up, that is, the ‘non natural’ images, I like to ask myself “Would they put this on their wall?”. My work is about the couple, not my number of likes, and I will remain that way, no matter what ‘trends’ come along.
If you are a bride reading this and don’t mind a photographer taking you away to perform like a circus seal, I apologise. But I probably am not the photographer for you…