Hello, photographers? Can we just collectively agree on a few things?
Your photos don’t need a hundred actions to make your photos great.
They probably don’t even need one, unless that’s your love and you choose it independent of everyone else.
You don’t need seventeen lenses to document a story well.
Because what’s happening in the nineteen time you’re frantically changing lenses? Reality. Relationships. Beautiful moments.
Can we please stop with the oversaturated, high contrast, plastic skin and alien eyes? Can we stop gaussian blurring and vignetting the guts out of our photographs? Can we stop retouching every photo for twenty minutes, HDRing and sharpening and filtering until the thing is unrecognizable? I just feel like it’s a bad sign when we’re doing all. that. junk. to photos of people who were originally real, having a real moment in a real relationship. And then we have the audacity to flatten it into a piece of wannabe airbrushed plastic. It’s just a shame. If you do that kind of work and people are hiring you, I just feel sad. Because that is not art. That is not a reflection of life. It cries out to me as insecurity: my photos are not good enough the way they are, so I gotta doctor them up until they are transformed. Let’s stop trying to host Extreme Makeover on each of our photos. (You know? There’s always those gaudy before and after photos, where they apply an unholy amount of lip gloss to the once-human in question? Maybe that show isn’t even on the air anymore. Gosh, I am out of touch.)
I want to talk about being out of touch. Apparently I have a lot to say right now. Being out of touch is actually really beneficial for your art. You’re more likely to make truly unique work when you don’t spend 2 hours every day on other wedding photographers’ blogs. Important to know trends in the industry, and what it will handle? Yes. More important to get of your butt and go shoot more? Double yes. Of course I am guilty of this. Of course I pin and pretend it’s work. I go through blogs and feel (ridiculously so) that I’ve accomplished something. At some point you have to jump into the wide world and make beautiful things. Things you really believe are beautiful–not because current wedding magazines say so, or your grandma, or even your clients. If those just so happen to match, great. (And you should be attracting clients that adore your work, not creating work solely to please your clients, by the way.)
Let’s go back to the basics, where yellow is not the new white and creamy skin tones means film, not an orange cast over your photograph. Let’s go back to reality.
I want to see the wind and the sun and the smiles that were there.
I want to see the story, the real story, un-upstaged by your insecurity.
I want to see the beauty in imperfection, the beauty you find and capture.
And I shouldn’t care what everyone else is doing, right? I just feel sad that people are going to look back at your photos and laugh at how silly it was that you gave them alien eyes and smoothed their skin into plastic. I feel sad that those photos are going to get trashed and their memories that they probably paid you a lot of money to capture are buried behind 24 layers of filters. I feel sad that people are shelling out for that kind of stuff when it’s just a little bit horrifying. But you know? I can accept that it’s possible that people really do think ultra-photoshopped photos are beautiful and they will for a long time. But I gotta be real to me, and tell you that it makes me feel a little barfy.
I just want to tell you. People don’t want badly airbrushed fakeness of themselves. (And, I guess, if you do, you know where not to find that. Right here, sweetheart.)
People want the most artistic, gorgeous version of reality–and that is what they should be paying you for: your vision, not your camera or your lenses or your actions–because somebody else always gon’ have more and better.
If you find yourself nodding your head right now, and you love the book with the same title as this post, we might just be a match made in heaven. And I want to photograph you and your big bad awesome authenticity. So let’s talk, mm?