Updated January 19, 2020 at 7:47 pm
I've had a lot of clients book with me just because they like my prices and my photos. You might be thinking, "What else is there?"
A photographer's prices and photos alone don't tell you how they are going to shoot your wedding day, and what your wedding day experience will be like with that photographer. While I love to help clients come up with their wedding day timeline so they can begin to create their vision, when it comes to the wedding day itself, directing it is not my style.
Here's the thing: I have no problem asking a client, while they get ready, for example, to move closer to a window so that the light can be just right, or to turn a different way so that, again, the light can be just right, or to wait before they put on that shoe so I can move to the other side of the room so that - yep, you guessed it - the light can be just right. I do want to make sure your photos are amazing - and light is so important for that. But you should also know that my entire purpose as a photographer is authenticity. This means that my job is to allow my clients to truly be themselves and to enjoy their day as much as possible without me telling them what to do.
I'm not a wedding planner or wedding day coordinator. My clients - the ones who are the right fit - are completely comfortable being in charge of how their day unfolds. If my clients have a Pinterest board or a shot list (there are times when a shot list is a must, like during the family photos, or when a Pinterest board is extremely helpful, like for certain details and wedding party portraits), then they bring that list on the day-of and have their maid of honor or a trusted family member pull it out when it's time. I'm still being true to my clients' authentic experience without imposing my will, if you will. I'm not the one telling my clients to do those things. When I'm shooting my way, I never put my cameras down to look at timelines or shot lists - my clients let me know where they want me to be and when, and I just don't stop shooting. (Do my italics tell you how passionately I feel about all this? LOL.)
So that's extremely important for potential clients to know - and it's not something you'll know just by looking at my work, because you'll see plenty of set-up shots (like dresses hanging outside, rings inside bouquets, wedding party portraits, etc) that clients have specifically asked for.
For 2020 and beyond, in order for me to remain affordable and be okay with that, I'm dedicating myself to the craft of wedding photojournalism like never before - because that's what I enjoy.
What is wedding photojournalism? According to the Wedding Photojournalist Association, wedding photojournalists are "telling the story of a wedding, not directing it." Here's more from the WPJA, of which I aspire to be a member someday:
"Two people making a commitment of marriage want to remember the day for the rest of their lives. Shouldn’t the wedding photography that commemorates their celebration reflect the personal moments and honest emotions they will remember?
"For all the decisions you make in planning a wedding, the biggest decision is declared before family and friends: an honest commitment to your relationship and its future. The photographs of the day, the event and the celebration should reflect that kind of authenticity — they should reflect you. [...] [Wedding photojournalists] want to tell, not dictate, the beautiful story of your unique wedding. [...] [Y]ou and your spouse will see your dedication to each other — as well as the true joy and honest emotions of your participants and guests — in the moments we can capture at your wedding. Committed to the ideals of using photographic realism to document your joyous commitment to each other, [wedding photojournalists] seek to give brides and grooms pictures worthy of a day worth remembering."
This style is not for everyone. There are many brides who want a photographer who will work extra hard to make them look beautiful, who will pose them perfectly throughout the day, who will be in charge of their wedding day timeline, who will tell them what to do and when. There isn't anything wrong with that - but those brides aren't going to be happy with what I do. If you're someone who is going to look at me and say, "Don't take a picture of this," because you don't want a real moment captured, then I'm not for you. If you're going to ask me on your wedding day, "What should I do now?" then I'm not for you. If you're going to say, "I only want photos of me from a specific angle," then I'm sorry, but I'm just not for you.
I hate the way that all sounds, but I have to be blunt. I don't charge much - so it's imperative that I get to enjoy what I do. What I enjoy most is capturing all of those real, emotional moments that I had nothing to do with. I enjoy blending unseen into the background, people forgetting I'm there, and being able to surprise my clients with all of the amazing memories that they didn't even know I captured. I also love it when clients collaborate with me to help create the portraits they want, instead of me being in charge of those.
And maybe that's why other photographers do charge so much. But for me, I'd rather just capture 1,000 photos per hour on the day of everything that unfolds, as beautifully and as authentically as possible.