I was asked this recently by two couples who I met with a few days apart. I didn’t have great answers for either of them. I think I probably said “the photos,” because it was the first thing that came to mind! “Getting the shot” is a great feeling – something easy to get addicted to. But it’s far too vague.
I didn’t ponder this much more; unless I really have no idea what to say to someone or don’t know an answer, I don’t like to think through what I’m going to say to clients. I never want to have a script to work through – that would be too salesman-y. Instead the answer came to me while I was at a photography workshop this week. Sometimes if you think too much about something, you can’t see the reality. So when I was asked again, what’s my favorite thing about wedding photography? an answer immediately popped in my mind. When I said it in front of everyone, I knew it was 100% true.
When I first got into photography, really got into it, street is what I loved. I loved finding a weird scene or capturing people in a moment of their lives. I love photography’s ability to freeze action, to give context or take it away, to frame things so that you have to look at what I want you to look at. Shooting people on the street lets you tell a story. It’s messy and fast-paced. And it’s also scary.
It’s always been love-hate with me for street. I love the photos. I love telling the stories. I love the idea of being a “street photographer.” But when it comes to actually getting up in peoples’ faces and taking candids, I balk. So so so many times, I’ve seen a great photo and been too chickenshit to bring the camera up to my face. The wonderful images I’ve made in my mind’s eye!
So what I love about wedding photography, what I said in front of all those workshop attendees, is that
My clients pay me to be a street photographer at their wedding.
I get to do street photography in a setting where I’m not only given permission but actively encouraged to seek out moments, stories, action. And people pay me to do it! Weddings for me are like street scenes that I am commissioned to capture. I don’t have to worry about someone getting mad at me or thinking my presence is inappropriate or being worried that I’m some kind of creep. It’s my job to capture a wedding and all the scenes therein. It’s pretty seriously great stuff.
I listened to everyone else’s story about why they love weddings and wedding photography and it made me feel like kind of a heartless jerk. Some said they “loved love” (okay, that doesn’t make me feel bad, it sorta makes me gag), others said they really enjoyed meeting new people, a few said they really enjoyed connecting with their clients. I have lots of secondary reasons to love weddings, but I’m pretty sure the number one thing is that it gives me a safe place to do street photography and feeds that part of me that wants to create out of chaos. Maybe I haven’t grown the balls to really pursue street photography (honestly, it fills me with dread and anxiety – every time), but I get to come at weddings with the same approach I would for street – at every single wedding. It’s awesome.
What do you think? If you’re a photographer, what do you love about wedding photography? If you’re a regular old person (or one of my clients – hello!) what do you love about wedding pictures?