Photography, Stories

Why I don’t shoot “wedding photography” and how I ended up crafting something special for Jeanette and Vincent

When people ask me if I could use my photography skills to shoot their wedding, I usually say no, because most of the time, that special day for them, is a looooong agony for me. I may have attended way too many weddings while growing up.  By the time my generation was getting married, I wasn’t enjoying any of them.  My heart was simply not there.

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When my friend Vincent called me, I knew he was very much in love and he had great news to announce me. But he was also having a hard time finding a photographer for their wedding and met several of them. They met the artist who would mute once asked to explain her quotation and services. They met the very sweet gentleman whose images were as unflattering as his customer service was great. And finally, they met the photographer who was professional enough to tell them: “Maybe, I am not the right person for you.”

I told him my apprehension and suggested him a few friends of mine who specialised in wedding photography. There are so many professional photographers on the market, that I always recommend to hire the ones who are enjoying what they are doing, if not passionate about their work. I would rather say no to my friends and clients to avoid any future disaster, than try to please them at all costs. In the meantime, we organised a meeting, so I could get to know the wonderful woman he was about to marry. And he was right… we clicked immediately. I mean I really LIKED Jeanette.

Choosing your photographer is about an encounter and finding your match. You need to find someone you can trust, who understands your needs, who cares about you, and values you more than their own photographs, someone who would make sure you always feel comfortable, and would stop or continue shooting when necessary. That they would do their best to grasp your personality and capture what matters to you: the complicity you have with your partner, the love you have for your people, and so on.

The more we got to know each other, the more I felt right to accept the mission and the more motivated I was to craft something for them. By the end of the dinner, not only I was eager to attend their wedding, but also I could not wait to meet the rest of their clans: the notorious grandmother, the brothers from the Dominican Republic, the mums, the dads, the Viking side and the Breton side.

I asked Jeanette what she cared the most about, and it was the moments she would have with Vincent after the religious ceremony. They gave me carte blanche with everything else, the subjects I wanted to cover, the time I needed to work on the post-production, the artistic style I would choose, and the equipment I would consider the most appropriate budget-wise. They had total trust in me and I could not ask for a better bond. It was in a nutshell: “The Dream Job”.

On D Day, I was completely connected to their minds, and I could feel the whole range of emotions they were experiencing. They knew that I would capture their natural expressions and would not attempt to direct them for posed pictures. I was no longer shooting a wedding, but accompanying them on their journey, telling the story of their day, and crafting something special for them that reflected whom they were, a gift to their families and future children.

On a personal level, I sincerely believe that every child (unless their personal story tells otherwise) deserves great pictures of their parents. Whenever I open my family albums and I look at the pictures of my parents and grandparents, I am grateful that such images exist. They are parts of our history, a treasure of inestimable value.

I would like to end with a quote from Ed Kashi: “If you want to be a photographer, particularly a photojournalist, you want to learn about the world. You want to learn about yourself. And you want to find things that you genuinely care about, because that will be the source of your greatest work.”

Many thanks to Jeanette & Vincent for their trust in me and for allowing me to share their wedding pictures with you.

Special thanks to Chloe, Liberty and Yenny for their honest thoughts and words of encouragement.

This post is dedicated to Brad and his dream job. :)

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7 thoughts on “Why I don’t shoot “wedding photography” and how I ended up crafting something special for Jeanette and Vincent

  1. What wonderful images you took of this wedded couple! I agree with you that a connection needs to be made between the parties. Especially on something as personal as a photographer who is capturing the best day of your life!! You done good!!! I thought about diving into this profession, but I have only captured objects that are still!!!! Any thoughts or advice?

    • Hi Barb,
      Thanks so much for the feedback! If ‘still life’ is your cup of tea, keep shooting still life. You might end up with the most amazing collection of leaves, who knows? I know many artists who would spend days shooting designer shoes from all angles, or tweak with lines and curves, clean reflections of windows on photoshop for architecture photography. These things make them happy and they are excellent at it, because they keep practising. Anyway, it takes time to build a strong portfolio and find your visual identity.

      Photography is a personal journey, I cannot really tell you how to walk that path or when to dive. But if you consider going professional, you might like to read Ken Rockwell’s article on the practical realities of going professional and ‘How to become a professional photographer’: http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/go-pro.htm

      Hope this helps. Best Wishes, RX

  2. Hey Ruoxiang, I really enjoyed reading this, and thanks for the dedication! You really captured the essence of those treasured moments well. I like how you mention how photographers are naturally curious about the world. I believe photography helps shape our perspective by conveying scenes in perhaps unlikely scenarios.

    • Hi Brad, my pleasure! Your post made me smile when I had this article in mind and kept me motivated during the writing process. :) I cannot wait to read your next post or see the photographs you have lately taken.

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