Photographic style is important in a wedding photographer. There’s traditional or classic, then there’s more of a journalistic or documentary approach. There’s formal, posed portraiture photography, natural light and photographers who blend one or more different styles to create their own. And while most brides or couples don’t know everything about each style, they know what they like and tend to gravitate toward photographers who produce in that style. My clients know what style they’re going to get, because I don’t usually stray from it.
HELPING A FRIEND
The other week, a fellow photographer was in a bind. His second photographer had a family emergency, which left him in a lurch to find another with very little notice. I’m not a second photographer, for the most part. But this was an emergency and I was happy to help a friend in need. I have to say that I’m glad I did because I loved seeing how he works and even how different our clients are.
My friend’s style, especially in how he handles his clients, is so vastly different from my own. I found it so interesting to be able to hang back a little bit and watch him do his thing. My friend brands himself as a documentary photographer, with little to no posing. In this style, the photographer essentially becomes invisible in order to capture mostly candid photographs.
If you know me, you know I pose, a lot. I move and mold my clients in each situation. I seriously pose from nose to toes. He doesn’t pose — at all. He places people in a general area and then just starts photographing while they laugh, talk, act silly, have fun . . . whatever they want to do. My friend moves around and moves the group from place to place, but gives almost no direction.
In a way, his style was shocking, but not in a bad way. It was just something I wasn’t used to. The most dramatic difference was the number of images he shot. To get the photos where everyone is laughing or emoting in a the perfect way, it’s a requirement.
At one point, my friend asked me if I wanted to take the reins for a few minutes. You know I wanted to! I posed the group just like at my weddings and shot for a bit. Afterward, I hear the groom tell my friend “Let’s not do that again.”
I had an epiphany. If you’re his client, you’re not going to like my style. If you like my friend’s sense of storytelling, you probably won’t like mine. And if you had us both shooting the same event, you’re going to have two different stories — and not in a good way.
That’s why it’s so important to choose the right photographer for you. The beauty of choosing the right photographer is in finding who will tell your story best. You need to understand how they work and that what you see in their portfolio is what you’re going to get. You can’t hire someone and ask them to change their style. It just doesn’t work like that. Not all photographers see the same thing when they look at a picture. Like flowers and snowflakes, we’re all individual and different, and I think there’s beauty in that, too.