Thursday, April 7, 2016

What Great Wedding Photography Is Really About

As of this writing, I've photographed more than 100 weddings. Including the weddings I've assisted friends at, I've probably photographed at close to 200. After all those parties, all those masses, and beach ceremonies, and synagoges, the moments I remember have nothing to do with the stuff and everything to do with the people.
What do I mean, "the stuff"? Today's weddings are full of "details" - the flowers, the rings, the dress, the programs, the centerpieces, the list goes on. And while that's not a terrible thing - especially photographically - all of those little details add up to your wedding album and slideshow feeling complete - they're far from the point. Are your children going to look at your album and think, "I can't believe mom wore Vera Wang!" Not a chance. But, hopefully, they will think (besides, "Look how young they were!"), "Look how much fun they had! Look how in love they were!" Hopefully generations from now, when you're gone, your family will have these heirlooms that will serve as a window into who you were and think, "I wish I'd been there, it looks like a great party celebrating two great people."
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I don't remember who told me this story, but in the week leading up to my own wedding, someone mentioned that it seemed funny to celebrate weddings at the beginning, that what we should really be celebrating are the 50th anniversaries, those couples who have great stories to tell, great shared histories.
Many photographers these days shoot to be published, as though they'd been hired by a wedding magazine or blog to editorially document a wedding day. I've never felt that way, in fact, I've always felt the opposite - I shoot for my clients. If some wedding blog or magazine would like to publish a wedding I've done (and many have), that's great, but it's far from the goal, and probably the furthest thing from my mind on the wedding day. With the exception of the part of the day we've allocated to portraiture, my goal at the end of things, is for the couple to look at their gallery, their slideshow or their album and think, "I remember that happening, but I don't remember Doug being there." If that's the case, I've done my job. It sounds cheesy to say it, but the photos are about the wedding - the wedding is not about the photos.
What are my favorite parts of the wedding day? The toast by your best man when he tells the story of how you first met. The maid of honor telling stories about how you had dreamed of this day when you were little girls playing dress up. The dance with your grandfather, the moment when the groom first sees the bride in her dress, the flower girl who's having so much fun she picks up the flowers and throws them a second time.
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What's my point? Forget the "details", the Pinterest inspiration boards, the "top ten wedding xxx" lists - any good professional photographer will capture the "stuff", instead focus on enjoying your day, on throwing the best party you've ever been to with the best friend you'll spend the rest of your life with and I promise you a set of photos that will make you smile every time you open your album for the next fifty years.

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