Monday, August 30, 2010

photography hindsight

When we first started discussing what we wanted to get out of our wedding photography, the subject of candid versus posed photos was quick to enter the discussion.

As we poured over the dozens of photographers in our area, I kept feeling like everything was too stodgy, too stiff, and quite frankly, it didn't look like fun. Some of the formal shots, or more posed couples portraits looked awkward and uncomfortable to me.

And since I'm already a shy person who was having concerns about how comfortable I'd be when I was being stalked by a photographer on my wedding day, uncomfortable posing was the last thing I wanted.

As for Mr. FP, well, he's not the most photogenic person in the world. Don't get me wrong, he's a handsome man, but if you put him in front of a camera, somehow his handsomeness doesn't translate well. Why? Well, because when he's staring down the barrel of a camera, he gets this awkward, fake smile on his face that causes him to look as though he were insanely uncomfortable when the photo was taken. Want a better visual? Watch this video.

You could easily replace Matthew Perry with my husband and achieve the same effect.

Not the ideal situation for a wedding day, right? A bride who is actually uncomfortable and a groom who looks like he's uncomfortable simply to be alive.

So, we made it our life's mission to find someone wouldn't put us into awkward positions where I'm trying to jump around in a wedding dress, pose us with my veil over our head while we kiss, or arrange the bridesmaids bouquets on the train of my dress (seriously, how could that ever seem remotely natural?).

But as adamant as we were to avoid the posed photos, well, that's all our families wanted. My mom didn't even understand the meaning of candid photography. When we showed examples of what we wanted, our families were confused. Why would we want detail shots of our decor or of the books we were using for ceremony readings? Why was it important to have a photo of the groom in converse and the bride in bare feet?

Overall, the sentiment seemed to be that candid photography was a waste of time when we were spending so much money on a photographer. And speaking of money, neither set of parents seemed to understand the need to spend upwards of $1000 on a photographer when there are people in the city who will do it for $250.

Once again, I found myself doubting our choice. (Shock, I know.) What if we really didn't need to pay so much for photography? Do we really need shots of the minor details? Maybe the more traditional style of photography would be better? Maybe formal is better, I mean, after all, it is a wedding? Couldn't we forgo the idea of a photographer all together and stick with disposable cameras used by the guests?

Thankfully, I regained some sanity and realized that we were making the right decision. Although it would take up a large chunk of our budget, photography was and always will be our number one priority. I'm a photo person. I have millions of them. Photographs are a huge source of nostalgia for me and being an extremely sentimental person, the idea of having wedding photos that were of poor quality simply wasn't an option for us. I mean, really, who wants to look back 20 years from now and see stuff like this? Not us, that's for sure.

And as happy as we are with our decision, looking back there is one thing I would change. I would be more open to the idea of formal portraits. I was so against them and although we'd always planned to do them to satisfy our parents and grandparents, I didn't think anything of them. But now that we have our photos back, I'm extremely glad we have them.

Don't get me wrong, I love that our couples portraits weren't done in a formal fashion. There was no jumping. No awkward hugging. There was, however, some veil over the head action. Only to mock the ridiculous practice of trying to make a couple kissing under a veil look natural, of course. Here's how ours turned out.

Romantic, right?

Um, no. But it was funny to take and it's funny to look at.

And so were the rest of the photos. It was fun. It wasn't scary. It wasn't stressful. I didn't feel awkward and Mr. FP actually looks like he wanted to be there. They were romantic and we were happy to be there because our amazing photographer made us feel at ease. We knew she wouldn't make us do anything strange. She just let us be and only gave us direction when we needed to switch it up a little. We were thankful for that, actually, because she's the one who knows what looks good, not us.

It's these photos that remain my favorite but I'm glad our families pushed us towards the formal portraits. We have awesome photos of us with my parents, his parents, my grandparents, our siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, and my favorite photos are the ones where we got all members of the 4 branches of our families for a photo with us. If we wanted our wedding to have any sort of theme, it was that of a family reunion and these photos reflect that. How often do you get the chance to have all the people you love together? And how often is there a professional photographer there? Unless you're lucky enough to have one in the family, probably not very often. And as awesome as candid photography is, I think the formals are the best way to capture the faces of those closest to you.

Were they awkward? I'm not going to lie, yep, a little. Did I enjoy standing in the same spot for 20 minutes while people shifted in and out of position? It wasn't the worst thing in the world? Did I just want to leave to take photos with my new husband and to get the freakin' reception started? Um, yes.

But were they worth the annoyance and slight discomfort we experienced?

Hell yes.


Angie said...

oh good! now i don't have to write about our photo experience b/c you pretty much summed it up! haha! and yes that pic is priceless. i love it.

and i love this:

"A bride who is actually uncomfortable and a groom who looks like he's uncomfortable simply to be alive."

If I know a camera is on me I make the most awkward faces. Our photog told me to be "coy and cute." No, I more like this:

Nicole-Lynn said...

Glad you were happy with your decision! That picture of the hubs is hilarious! :)

Lisa said...

great post. so glad it was well worth the "annoyance and slight discomfort"! i felt that way too after smiling my brain out at formal portraits :)

also, that photo is so awesome!

Emily said...

Glad it all worked out for you in the end. I am not a big fan of formal pictures either but I do see the need for them. I think a balanced mixture of both the formal and the candid is a great way to go.

Jay Rowden - Photographer said...

As a photographer myself I particularly enjoyed reading this post and laughed out loud in places! I think formal posed photos have their place so long as the list of shots doesn't run into double figures!!! I'm so glad you eventually found the right photographer for you. A professional will always listen and give the clients what they want and not want he/she wants.

Anonymous said...

I actually find the key to client/photographer happiness is not to give the client what they want, it's to match yourself with clients who want what you want too! :) cause when everyone is happy it's magic! and noone's happy unless mama's happy. I would not have let you get away without the formals!! it's me. your photographer :)

Anonymous said...

any to save my anonymous reputation we only put that veil over your head so we could do a crazy shot. cause that's my all-time groan shot! :)

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