As a Miami Wedding Photographer now going on seven years of shooting weddings full time, I have gotten to a point now where I can really take a step back and analyze the work I have done, the processes that I have been following, and truly now challenge myself to not just be “better”, but to be more specific and to act with more deliberate intentions to in turn achieve a more refined result, and offer a service that really, actually, is on another level then that of the “masses” out there, and hopefully is reflected in my work.
So, I want to share a personal thought with you. Its something I have kinda seacretly joked around about for years, and would tell my assistants all the time, and now I am really starting to feel like I am on to something and making an effort to —slowly— change what the expectation maybe in the future at weddings (well at least on this small topic). and that is..
Before I say another word, I want you to know that I understand I am speaking from both sides of my mouth when I say this.. LOL.. so, try and keep up with my logic here…
Photographers, all of them.. take these static detail shots at every wedding. Myself included. What I am referring to, are mainly things like.. the wedding dress, the shoes, the rings, the ear rings, the neckless, the bracelet, cufflinks, watches, perfume bottles, etc..etc..etc.. objects that are of importance on the wedding day. Now because they are of importance, and time, effort, and money has been spent on them.. they get photographed, and if you hire me they get photographed to a very high standard that would fit in well with a magazine ad for that static item! You can surf through my own site to see many examples of this. If I am being honest, I have to assume that all my clients expect this as a result in their wedding imagery, and there is nothing, NOTHING wrong with that, and every photographer does this, for the same reasons. This will never “go away” (nor do I think it should, because it tells the story of the day…. well.. almost.), but I DO challenge the manner in which this idea is executed photographically.
Ah! A new view point 🙂
I had this client, and she called me before the wedding about 2 years ago.. and said to me..
“Travis, I don’t want to offend you, and I know you do great work, and are very passionate about what you do.. but, ah.. I don’t want any silly photos of my shoes, or dress, or ear rings.. or anything like that in my wedding images. I want you to focus on important things like interactions, and candid shots only.”
Now, at first I was thinking in my head.. oh boy.. here we go.. but when I sat down, and thought about it I can totally understand where she was coming from, and to my surprise I started to agree with her! Now, I don’t want to go as far to say it’s “silly” but it did get me thinking about ways to showcase the detail items, and not be so “static”. Thats the problem, and although my client did not have the words to articulate what she really meant, I knew that this was the disconnect.
I mean, how many images of the same –exact– wedding dress do you think I have in my image database over the past seven years? Now how many images of the –exact– same shoes do you think I have? The same ear rings, etc.. hundreds. I started to think.. you know who loves “static” detail shots the most? The designers, the manufactures, and everyone thats interested in BUYING that item. You could in fact argue that shooting some of these items statically, is no different then shooting it for an advertisement. Ironically, I get praised on my ability to produce “commercial grade” images out in the field, and in a compressed amount of time, and when the subject is a static item.. it just becomes “eye candy” to the general viewer, and less, and less meaningful to the bride & groom. Why? Because.. a static image of any of these items (by themselves), regardless if they are “yours” or not, makes no connection to you, and this is not really what the wedding day is about. Unless of course you own a store front, and are using the images to sell them after the wedding LOL. 😉
So, what am I saying?… no more detail shots at your weddings?? LOL, No, of course not. But, lets make it matter more. Lets stop putting such a focus on shooting a “perfect” shot of the shoes, and rings, and dress just hanging in a hotel room by itself, and take those same items, and creatively capture them ON THE BRIDE!
You want a nice shot of your dress? Me too! So, lets do it with you IN IT. Let me pose you to show off the dress, and have it matter more because your in it. Want a nice image of those sexy wedding shoes? Great, me too! Lets capture you putting them on, and to a point posing your legs in a flattering way to “show off” the shoes, at the same time making them yours. Your wearing your grandmothers ear rings, and want to be sure to get a “nice shot of them”? Yeah, lets do it! But… you guessed it.. on you. Lets get a styled shot of you putting them on, and a close up of the ear ring on you!
THIS ^ is what will matter most to you when everything is all said and done. My “static” shots of the same thing, regardless how impressive to the eye.. will never compare. and.. dare I say.. dare I say.. to some, maybe “silly”.
Think about this..
What generally is the end result, or “destination” for wedding images?…………….. an album. So, thinking about an album, something tangible that is now printed, and will occupy a physical space in your home, and in your life, you will need to select only some of the wedding day images to “recap” the day, and this truly is what becomes the lasting memory. Its that handful of images that end up in an album, printed. Not the some thousand digital files the photographer may have given you, and sits on your computer. So, if this is the lasting memory for one of the most important days of your life it only makes sense to use the images that truly tell the story, and have the most meaning to you. Opening an album to a first spread of cold, static, (yet pretty) detail shots in many ways, makes very little sense when you really think about it, and go deeper then just that simple mind of “but thats what everyone does”.
Anyway.. something to think about 🙂 Whats my plan? Well, its going to take some time.. but, I will continue to shoot the static items for all of my clients, because I know this is the expectation, and I have written the book on that topic! (see my video on that here), BUT.. I am going to slowly post, less, and less of them to my site, and blog, and focus on posting only the detail shots that I take where I can show viewers more meaning, as this is the style that I think is best, and will matter more in time. Then, eventually I can show a new expectation and offer something different. This way, no one gets disappointed and I can remain open and honest with my feelings.
Now, on that note I have made a video below (iMAGE TALK) which is going to be part of an ongoing series where I select a few images from my weddings, shoots, projects and such and talk about them. Giving more information than what can be seen with the eye, so that the viewer (you) can not only see the end results, but understand how I got there, and what my mindset / vision really in fact was. If you really want to understand what I do, and get the most from what I am able to offer.. then this is for you!
The video above, I give more detail into each of these images, and is worth listening too to fully understand all the aspects that went into shooting this set of images.
Above, bride putting on the earring. Notice the eyes are down, showing the lashes, soft smile and the hands profile to camera for most flattering position. The focus here is in fact the earring, and makes for a far more elegant “detail” shot of the earrings. This is compared to a “static” shot of the earrings that would just normally be sitting by themselves. Which do you think would make its way into an album for a lasting memory?
Again (above) here we have the hair piece, this is the “detail” shot for that. Its on the bride, has meaning, and also at the same time tells more of a story. How? Well.. we can not only see the main focus (hair piece) but we can also see her beautiful hair, a glimpse at the back of the wedding dress, and even her bracelet. Again, its about telling the “story” (or making one) with the wedding imagery.
Ring on the bride, again same deal here. It makes the most sense, and has more meaning. NOW.. I will say (and said in the video) that the rings, I do think its nice to get a static shot of them. Something close up, and this can also be used in conjunction with the above image if needed. But, either way.. I think you understand the points I am making. Here (above) we have the bride all done, and in the dress. This is the detail shot for the dress, and….. the bride is in it! This dress will look no better, in any other way, or on a hanger. I speak about this in more detail in the video.. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why people want the dress photographed statically, and they buy the cute little hanger with their name on it, but when it comes down to it.. seeing you in your wedding dress, is what completes that dress.. and I think is so important to get on the wedding day, AND sadly, all too often because of time (lack there of) photographers don’t get nice shots like this on the wedding day. This is something I am very inssitant about, because I understand how important it is not just for you.. but for me as well, to showcase to others on whats possible and to make an album design really pop and be timeless.
Shots with the vail. Never will this be shot static, and is a good example that forces people to shoot this detail item on the bride (ever see a vail slung over a door, or chair LOL.. not so much.). Here I used off camera lighting to create more texture in the vail, and to help “separate” the bride from the vail, and background. Careful attention was placed on the pose, and that detail is in my iMAGE TALK video above. This one.. I just loved. 🙂 Period. I have spoken about this type of shot (above) before on my site, in the wedding gallery with Julie and Joe’s wedding. People see shots like this, and assume it was a “candid” shot.. and granted it was, but it was also very much contrived by me, and specifically my personality. Shots like this will never happen on their own, and it takes some control to get them, as proven by my ability to make them from wedding, to wedding. All the details, I speak about in the video. So, I just wanted to throw together some of the example shots from this iMAGE TALK (above) to kinda give you a feel on what they look like when grouped together like in an album. You can start to see how it flows, and makes for much, MUCH more impact vs. opening an album, and turning to the first few pages to see a bunch of “static” shots of the same items. I understand that this (to a point) is very subjective, but.. its really hard to argue that these “type” of images, and the points I am making are not what most people would want. Often times, people don’t know what they want until they understand, and see it. Thats the idea here with my blog post. Lastly, I have added the shot of the bride all done, and in her dress. See how this makes sense on the right side of the spread, and the images before it kinda “lead up” to that moment of her. Granted, there can be more details taken, and added.. but I just wanted to show this to give you a general idea on the completed story of this small part of the day.