Business: Doing Things Your Way.
I vividly remember second shooting a wedding alongside a photographer I hadn't worked with prior. He was a cool guy with rad style who composed the type of hipster photos that make you said "how'd he DO that?!?". As we progressed late into the night I stood at the edge of the hardwood in my modest black dress and flats, hair in a ponytail, laughing and snapping away as he killed it on the dance floor, catching some awesome party shots. I giggled at how much fun he was having and noted the freedom in which he worked. That's what confidently running your business is. Knowing your ish and owning your style. Right off the bat I always knew that my take on wedding days and clients was unlike the traditional 'vendor/client' relationship. I don't just show up and shoot, expecting every event to be the same, I put value in sincere connections both in life and business and always strive to convey my authentic self, letting it permeate through all aspects of my photography. Encouraged by this guy's lively antics in the dance circle, I recognized that running your own business means you ultimately have one 'Boss', and that's you (not Kelis). Many times I have been left frustrated by vendors, wedding coordinators and other creatives proclaiming "well, this is how we/I/other photographers have done it in the past...", leaving to me explain while yes, it may be proper etiquette to serve photographers dinner once all the guests have eaten, it makes absolutely no sense, as that's when things get going again (which means photographers + videographers get all of 10 minutes to scarf down a sandwich/back up memory cards/regroup before the planner informs you "they are about to do the toasts"). Not to mention guests would much rather eat in peace than have their photo taken mid-bite. I know this because I have been stashed away in a coat closet with my bag of potato chips. Look, I could eat in the back of a pick-up truck for all I care, but for photography efficiency, being out of eyesight from the Bride + Groom makes no sense as you could completely miss an impromptu speech, because, well, you're in the coat closet. While I'm sure to a Coordinator keeping the vendors visually hidden makes perfect sense, in all instances of a wedding day it's best to collaborate with Creatives and keep lines of communication open between clients, sharing expertise in each of our fields, learning how one another works, being open to new ideas and respecting each Creative's role in the wedding day. I wouldn't even try to guess what you crazy same day editing videographers do throughout the day (I've seen you actually willingly tuck away into closets...), but I'm confident you know what you're doing. As people with cameras I recognize our goal is mutual, and it's always in my best interest to work seamlessly together--and forever be ducking to stay out of your frames. ;) Being a cohesive Creative Team is paramount to not just produce a beautiful end service, but most importantly a grand, unaltered and natural wedding day experience for each and every couple. While it may make sense to mimic the same strategy for every wedding, each creative business is different with varying ideals, goals, shooting styles, and results. No wedding day is the same, we all know that, so why would each Creative structure their businesses that way?
I left that wedding confident in what God had laid upon my heart, vowing to always do things in the way I have found most effective for my business and couples--while having a good time. I no longer look at peers who wear colored dresses to events or edgy photographers who take patron shots with groomsmen and think "*gasp!* you can....do that?". Well why couldn't they do that? If they're being true to themselves, their brand, and their couple's desires, then freaking go for it. There is no photography handbook that says when running your business you HAVE to wear black pants and a black top (and like a friend possibly be mistaken for the caterer) while never, under any circumstances let them see you eating that Cliff bar! Pish posh! While it's important to keep it professional, I find nothing more refreshing than being yourself on a wedding day. How else are we supposed to set ourselves apart, utilize our learned expertise, and ultimately live the exciting careers we worked so hard for? If rocking Aloha shirts to every wedding suits your brand, then buy all the shirts in the land! If you don't do sunset shots with a flash, don't be afraid to tell the coordinator the couple can keep enjoying dinner because that just ain't your style (and don't doubt yourself when s/he gives you a quizzical 'you don't do that?' look, 'cause, ya don't and your couple knows it.). Don't even BEGIN to feel less than because your Candy Crush gadget doubles as your business phone. WHO STILL USES LANDLINES?!?! We are the Creative Directors and Ambassadors of our brands, hired for our style and individual expertise. We each know what needs to be done in our respective professional fields to perfectly execute a wedding day and all the little quirks that go into the event which should encourage us to take control and have absolute say in how our businesses are run, never ever letting anyone else decide for us. You make your own rules and chances are your clients appreciate you for it.
As I wore my (still) black dress and glitterly necklace, Raquel, a fabulous Aussie Bride finished getting ready and said "I've got a glass of champagne for you!". Who in their right mind would turn down the bubbly?!? Not me.
I'll have just one, please. (I sipped slowly).
A shot from Pamela + Pierre's wedding! They, too, had the good stuff! ;) Contax 645 | Fuji 400h