The raw emotionality of it

In one day so much happened. Browsing around Facebook I saw a wonderful person, and photographer, Samm Blake post a quote by Christopher Anderson:

My generation and generations after me, young generations, are less and less interested in fact of perfect compositions and action of making a perfect image; they are more interested in just a raw emotionality of it.

Yup – that was it. Those words, the “raw emotionality,” are exactly the kind of thing I appreciate when I’m photographing a wedding.

Portraits are nice. They’re meant to capture a bit of who you are during a very special time in your life. But I’ve never been keen on advertising anything perfect. I’ve never asked my clients to change who they are when they work for me. I don’t want them to act. Most of the time I’m showing them how to un-act in front of the camera. That’s where the beauty is.

Recently I reached out to all of my 2012 clients and asked them to send me their favorite wedding image along with a few lines describing why that image. I wanted to setup a contest on Facebook to bring in other like-minded people who felt strongly about these kind of personal images created during wedding days.

One particular email stood out. It was from a guy (which is fresh in an industry where so much pressure is put on the girl to perform), and it was in response to me reaching out with the Facebook contest:

Feb. 20, 2013

Apologies if this e-mail is a bit long. In the first place, I hope all is well with you. It’s exciting to see that your business is growing so well, you deserve it.

I must admit, I’m not a fan of “contests” like this. I understand it from the photographer’s perspective to gain exposure, certainly. But they end up becoming contests of who has the most friends willing to click, and little about photography, etc. But such is life, and I’m certainly not such a curmudgeon that I’d complain too strongly.

In fact, as far as spreading the word about you, [we] could not recommend you more highly. You did everything we wanted in terms of photography and more and your personality made it feel as though we had another friend joining us at our celebration as opposed to an intrusive photographer. We don’t have a lot of friends who are currently in the market for wedding photographers, but if you’d ever like someone to provide general testimonial, I’d be more than happy to do so.

And despite my skepticism about contests, I do wish to share a picture with you, along with it’s story, regardless of whether or not it is included. I don’t know that the photo below is the “best”. Certainly [we] look better in other photos. In fact, I’m sure that you and I could look through the photos you shot that day and pick 4 or 5 that are absolutely great examples of photography worthy of display on a website. But the photo below….it was taken mere seconds after we’d walked down the aisle after being declared husband and bride. We were in in the vestibule of the church, out of eyeshot of our friends and family…in fact, I didn’t even realize that you were back there. I grabbed [her] and kissed her on the cheek and in that moment, my heart was about to explode with happiness. Before the wedding, I knew in the abstract that I’d be happy to be married, but at that very moment it hit me how truly amazing marriage to [her] was going to be and I can honestly say that it is the happiest moment of my life. And you just happened to be there to catch it on film and that makes me so very happy.

So…that’s a story about a photo you took…We may also to use one of those 4 or 5 pictures that are more visually stunning (in fact, I’d love to hear which of the photos you took is your favorite). But I thought I’d give you a picture, a story, and the compliments that you deserve for doing such a wonderful job for us.

Thanks, Ben, and best of luck!!!!

It’s emails like this that keep me behind the camera on wedding days. What really hit me with this response was how little I actually thought about what these images meant to my clients. I’m so close to that pre-wedding excitement when couples are literally creating an event to celebrate their life-long love, but I hardly hear back from all of them about how the images actually captured something real and honest about not only the architecture of their wedding day, but also of something that cameras are so good at: capturing moments.

So here you go – here’s that black & white moment he spoke of. And at his request, a few of my favorites from the day 😉



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