REAL Inspiration for Wedding Storytelling
It's been last night when I went to bed way too early. When I ended a busy day after a night out with gin, lots of gin, hard laughing, overpriced sparkling wine and long walks into the dawn and weird sit-ins near the water long after dawn. I then started a day full with running around preppin a bridal inspiration shoot. Picking up the cake, getting the flowers, checking on the location, driving for hours and running from one place to another. Trying to get the picture together in my head where I wanna go with this, how all this is gonna play together, how it's gonna look like. At some point I panicked, I got overwhelmed, I got so lost in details that I couldn't barely remember why I'm doing this. I just couldn't hold it together anymore. I didn't like the flowers how they were arranged in the bouquet, although I had shown the vendor countless images and briefed them several times along the way. I rechecked with my models, what to bring and not to forget, talked about the visual vision of the shoot over and over again. And there I was: lost in details.
I couldn't quite grasp it, but I came home and couldn't even unpack my stuff. The flowers lay on the floor, without water, I went to bed. Looking at what I was about to create, unsatisfied with what I saw and scared of the upcoming day. I didn't even care about the flowers withering in front of me. I was scared to go to that shooting, I was scared to meet the people, I was scared to direct them what to do. But this was my vision, wasn't it? I fell asleep, overwhelmed of what was about to come.
I woke up. My phone staring at me with the entries in my calendar looking at me like ‘get up you lazy b*, you got some work to do‘. And it felt like work. It felt like a job which intention and right to exist has long gone. I really didn't want to go. And although I was meant to tell my models and stylist when to arrive where, I kept on procrastinating for hours. It finally hit me. I don't wanna do this. This is not me.
I have been watching and following so many photographers, vendors and people that showcase current wedding trends, that I got lost. The stuff lying right before me was the exact copy of what they do. I mean it was still my interpretation of it and there is nothing wrong with diggin what others do, or even not getting enough of it. But that doesn't mean I have to do content or method wise whatever they do, just because I like it. I managed to stop following photogs and wedding pros for seeing their quality of work and where I might wanna go, because I know it would put me in a place where I compare myself to others in a bad way. But I didn't think I would get lost in shallow visual design interpretation. I mean the idea was to show brides in my area that you can be on point and achieve visual aesthetics with the littlest budget and bright ideas. That simplicity rules and the most simple things always look most visually appealing. That people think about who they are, find themselves and then put these details in a nice robe.
While showing that you can take everything you like and make it visually appealing I got so lost in ‘visually appealing above all‘ that I totally lost track, even overheard my inner voice. Big fail. That's not where I wanted to go. This is not who I am. Gosh, I want to tell stories. I want to show people that you can do all that nice stuff here, too - in the woods, with trees, lakes, fields, all nature around, adding some vintage decoration, handwritten calligraphy and grungy tables and wild flowers and flowing dresses and personal styled details, and most of all barefooted and real. But I guess I got it all wrong. It's time to go back to questioning people unpleasant things, to make them think about what holds them together, get those emotions going while the camera is there, think about light, but not about location/ style details. They come already while shooting, no need to arrange. That's when the dress, the flowers, the chairs don't matter anymore - beautiful yes, but not important. And I love Jonas Peterson for reminding me. I felt uncomfortable all day, had stomach pain and already felt the urgent need to ditch all other inspirational shoots planned this year. Or even all of them. Forever. That's when I stumbled upon Jonas Peterson's blog post.
So here is the answer:
It's about telling a story, so give me stories, I don't wanna 'style' anymore. You seen what's possible. The bridal sessions are online and ready to be viewed - just to see where I am at with light work and style approach. Now it's time to be real again, to sit together in silence, maybe do some yoga before we get to the pictures, have some tea, get some green smoothies juiced and talk about what's real important to you. (I actually did that with my first bridal sessions, because I knew it was the beginning and I cared more about the person I was shooting with, mostly friends, because I knew there is still room for visual and styling improvement for the upcoming shoots. But that second thought was wrong. What I did and felt back then was the exact right approach.)
So, I don't wanna see anymore couples asking me how they shall do things for their wedding day, I want them to rise above this and feel inside what is them, how they wanna look, stand, feel during that day. I can give them hints, I can name vendors and places, I can choose flowers for my shoots, or a dress I fell in love with, but then that's it. Go with the flow, no more thinking about how it all will look in the end.
Cause it's love we're celebrating and not the look. It's the couple that is going to share a lifetime. This is why we're taking pictures at all. Emotions will evolve and arise and I will capture that. Just that. And the photos will be kept forever, the couple being reminded of how they felt, they people attending remembering being part of this. And I promise, no, I vow to always be real. I am still true to pretty things making it a more festive atmosphere, but going back to not caring so much. Trusting that everything is gonna work out, that the details are just the setting and the emotions will make the ‘perfect look‘. To rather capture a cricked smile than a perfect one. To see the touch of hand, a gentle gesture of love. To not oversee real beauty. So for engagement and bridal sessions we will only go to places with meaning or make a day trip to places with activities and things that create emotions.
Photo in this post taken last week during the Lavender Sunset shoot.