When considering my role as a wedding photographer, stereotypical, awkward thoughts come to mind about a smartly dressed over enthusiastic middle aged person. They may be bossy, possibly arrogant and unapproachable. Another perspective may be that the modern wedding photographer is a cool creative retro hipster. In truth, my insecurities with the wedding photographer label serve to make me work harder, be nicer and dress as smart as I can whilst maintaining my sense of self.
At this point in my wedding photography practice I just about have the confidence to wear the footwear of my own choosing and the price is the price. These are the two most important lessons I have learned from my journey so far and I will revisit these issues later in this post whilst hoping to justify why they are relevant.
The Couple who chose me to Photograph their Wedding…
In terms of my relationship with a wedding couple I see it as a journey from initial enquiry through to delivery of their wedding photographs. Assuming a couple have made the initial enquiry and agreed the details the next stage is a face to face meeting. At this stage I am usually met with an element of warmth in addition to the scepticism of:
What I am like in a personal sense?
Am I worth the money that they are going to pay?
Will they be comfortable around me?
The next stage in the journey is the pre wedding shoot and usually the pivotal moment where the nerves of a couple reveal themselves. At this point a couple have seen my work and decided they like it. Now it is their turn in front of the camera. At this stage a couple have made themselves vulnerable towards me and their self confidence and perceptions of themselves are shortly going to be contained in the back of my camera.
In response to their anxiety I make a really simple photograph such as a holding hands/walking shot. It is shortly after this point I am able to change their perception of me. Immediately after that first short bust of the shutter I quickly go through the shots, identify the deliverable image and show the couple the best shot. As a result of that very first image I have earned their trust, the initial battle is won and more photographs can be made.
Winning the trust of a couple in a pre wedding shoot is important in managing their perception of me as the pre wedding photographs take placed in a non pressurised environment (as opposed to a wedding day) and I have managed to win the trust of the couple quickly.
The pre wedding shoot is an effective way to relieve the nerves relating to the prospect of being photographed hundreds of times. By the end of the shoot my aim is to turn their anxiety into excitement.
The Walking Advert
From the moment I arrive at a wedding venue I am initially judged on many levels by the diverse community of ‘The Wedding Guests’. The guests who are already married and of a similar age I feel are secretly comparing me to their own wedding photographer. The unmarried couples weighing me up as potential photographer for their own wedding and the seniors who one of which has usually settled the balance. All of which have expectations of the photographer.
In response to this I understand that I have few opportunities where I have a large captive audience where I can communicate directly and create a lasting impression. The first opportunity is usually the wedding party group shot which usually entails the photographer in an elevated position having to organise the guests quickly and with confidence.
Being able to arrange the formal groups quickly is a further element where I will be observed in terms of my organisation and my ability to arrange the relevant people.
Throughout a wedding day experience I prepare to be judged on many levels by the wedding party in terms of my appearance, my attitude and finally my photographs.
So at this stage I have developed the confidence to break the rules with my footwear and to charge what i’m worth. These may be considered small insignificant observations and obvious to many however I am confident enough to do this as I am confident in my wedding photographs. The work that I currently produce and my outlook is perhaps a metaphor for my own sense of self.