A few weeks ago, I had an eye opening conversation with a friend.
We were walking around the mall (that’s what we have to do in Pittsburgh when it’s 6 degrees outside ;) ), and we started talking about business. We moved on to weddings. Then we moved on to our couples and to photographing them on their wedding days, one of the most significant days of their lives.
Then, we started talking about something that got my gears spinning. A question was brought up: am I shooting for my couples, or am I shooting for me?
The weight of this question hit me by surprise. Of COURSE I’m shooting for my couples, I mused. Why else would I be photographing all of these weddings if I wasn’t?
But then, the gears kept turning, and I thought back to a conversation I had with a former coworker. Recently married, I asked him what he would do differently about his wedding day, if he could. He answered “I’d insist that we take less pictures. I love how they turned out, but I missed out on a lot of my wedding day because we kept leaving to take photos. Before the ceremony, after the ceremony, during cocktail hour, and during our reception, we were pulled out multiple times for more photos. They insisted that we keep leaving our friends and family for more photos without taking our opinion into consideration.”
Whoa. As a wedding photographer, this hit me right in the gut. I began to wonder: am I putting too much pressure on my couples for the photos that I want? Or do they really want them, too?
Of course, there’s a balance, like with anything. Good photos take time. It takes time to get a series of photos that represent who a couple is, to capture their friends and family, and to do it all in less time than an engagement session typically takes.
But, the question still remains: am I unnecessarily putting expectations on my couples to take photos that they don’t really want? Are we missing the boat as wedding photographers and camouflaging our desire to get photos that we love while sacrificing our the desires of our couples on one of the biggest days of their lives?
If wedding photography becomes about anything besides the couple, then we’re doing it wrong. We’ve missed the boat. We might say we’re in it for our couples, but in reality, we’re only in it for ourselves. That’s when wedding photography becomes selfish. And the temptation to make it about ME, the wedding photographer, is a great one. But if we can keep our eyes on what truly matters – on capturing this beautiful, sacred union and these two individuals on the first day of the rest of their lives, our focus will stay where it was always meant to be: on our couples.