GIRLY VS BEAUTY

After I made the decision to go into the wedding photography business, I began researching what types of pictures were normally shot at a wedding.  Every blog I looked at all featured photographs of the dress hanging in front of a window, or off of a tree.  They also included pictures of the flowers, the cake, the reception decorations, invitations and all other types of wedding paraphernalia.  And shoes.  The bride’s shoes.  I hate to say this, but I became fixated on the “why” of shooting the bride’s shoes.  So I asked the people who I thought might know the answer; wedding photographers and brides.

The wedding photographers gave me a pretty sophisticated answer.  The first reason was that the bride requested it.  Makes sense since we work for the bride.  The second part was business related.  The photographers usually posted the shoe photos on their blogs and listed the name of the shoe supplier with a link to that supplier’s site.  Free advertisement for the shoe company with the shoe company giving out positive recommends for the photographer.

The brides’ answer was simple: girls dig shoes!

After pondering this for some time, I came to the following  hypothesis;  when it comes to weddings there are things “girly” and there are things of “beauty” And I don’t use the word girly in a derogatory way. I use it in a complimentary manner in the sense that if the subject of the photograph is girly, the female photographer “gets” it.  For example, when Diana Elizabeth, Melissa Jill or Jasmine Star post  photographs of the brides shoes, those pictures look special.  That is because, in my humble opinion, the women are in tune with the whole shoe scene.  They appreciate what the bride went through to pick out the perfect shoe for the day.  They might even want a pair just like them, only not in the same color.  The ladies understand.  And this understanding and love of shoes goes into all the technical and artistic intricacies and embeds itself into that photograph of the bride’s shoes.

But one might ask, “don’t the shoes exhibit beauty?”  Yes they do, absolutely. My point is that  I may see the beauty of the shoes, but I will never appreciate the beauty of the shoes the way a female photographer does.  I believe that appreciation gives her the opportunity to capture that image in personal way that I am not able to do.

The beauty that I am referring to is the universal beauty that can be appreciated and understood by both male and female photographers.  We all can see the beauty of the bride, understanding the hours, days and maybe years that she spent planning on looking as beautiful as she does on her important day.  We see her beauty reflected in the face of the groom as he turns and sees her at the “first look”, or as he catches that first glimpse of his lady-love as she proceeds down the aisle.  And capturing that beauty is what drives us as photographers.  We look through that viewfinder and use the lenses, the settings, our technical and artistic skills to reach out and bring that beauty into the camera to be preserved for bride and groom so they may spark the memories and the stories of that one special day.

As a wedding photographer, I work for the bride.  If she wants pictures of her shoes, I will take them and do the best I can technically and creatively to capture the best photograph possible.  It is her wedding and it is up to me to photograph the memories she wants.  But let me say that I felt extremely fortunate when my last bride politely declined to have me photograph her shoes.  It did not hurt my feelings.

Now if someone would explain to me this whole “trash the dress” thing.

Daily footwear for the retired gentleman.

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IT’S A MAN’S WORLD

At the time I made my commitment to write one blog each day for 30 days, I was also in the process of posting one song a day for my 100 Ultimate Road Trips Songs as compiled by me.  As soon as I started blogging each day, I completely quit doing my road trip song posts.  So much for my ability to multitask.

It is exactly 13 days until my first official wedding shoot.  I would be less than honest if I didn’t say I am a bit nervous, yet brimming with confidence.  I have tried to get as prepared as I can for the big day.  I have taken three great classes from Diana Steffen.  I have also listened to a talk by Melissa Jill and taken advantage of an hour of coaching from her, as well as watched a couple of Creative Live session with Jasmine Star.  Not only are these women fantastic wedding photographers, but they all have outstanding business models and are willing to share their knowledge and expertise with aspiring young (and semi middle-aged) wedding photographers.

However, there was one little thing that was picking at the back of my brain during all of these classes and sessions.  The reality of this business is that it is all about the bride.  All the fabulous people I was learning from were either brides or potential brides.  My fellow classmates in the online classes were all brides or potential brides.  The nagging thought in the back of my mind was can a guy pull this gig off?  I mean, when the suggestion is made for me to  “giggle with bridesmaids before the ceremony,” I am just not seeing that happening.  For goodness sakes, my nickname at school was Grumpy Gramps.  How is G.G. going to giggle with anybody, let alone bridesmaids?

See folks, men and women are different.  I know that for a fact because Time Magazine told me this back in 1995.  I also am aware that there are extremely successful male wedding photographers in the business.  And in spite of all the wealth of knowledge I was learning from my teachers and mentors, I was concerned about being able to relate to the brides I would hopefully someday be shooting.  I had spent the last 31 years of my life teaching big, young men how to block and tackle.  Somehow that doesn’t seem to be a skill needed at your average wedding.   The bottom line is that I was getting the best information about the technical and artistic side of wedding photography, and excellent information about sound business practices.  There were just some aspects of the wedding that I felt I needed a guy’s point of view, like just how does a guy “giggle with the bridesmaids?”

As luck would have it, during the last three days Creative Live offered a workshop taught by Joe Buissink.  That’s Joe, not Jo.  The cool thing about Creative Live is if one can block out the time, one can watch the whole workshop live.  Just like the ladies, Joe takes great pictures and has a great business model.  But I already have a good foundation from the classes I took from Diana plus some of the tips from Melissa.  I really didn’t take the workshop for those aspects of the business.  I really just wanted to see the male perspective of how he works with his potential brides.

In Diana’s class she emphasized that ont of the most important things to do is to always be yourself, to be truthful and honest.  This is what I would call a first principle of the business.  This first principle was echoed by Melissa and others, and this first principle was practiced by Joe in his workshop.  After the workshop, I concluded it really doesn’t matter if one is a senor or senorita, a dude or a dudette, a mr. or a ms., one of the keys to success is to be true to oneself.

At this time I imagine that most everyone who reading this is mentally slapping the back of my head and telling me this is a no-brainer. But when I get a little nagging idea in the back of my head, I have to explore that option until I get the answer I need and the nagging in the back of the mind goes away.  It’s how I am.  If I didn’t try to fix the nagging voice, I wouldn’t be true myself.

I also want to say that I am happy the  workshop helped me with the whole “giggling with brides” dilemma.  Joe said the same thing, but from the man’s perspective.  He said. “talk to the bridesmaids with a sense of humor.  Get them laughing and smiling.”

Which leads me to conclude:

“Men are from Mars, Women from Venus”

“Men search Google+, Women search Pinterest.”

“Men say ‘sense of humor’, Women say ‘giggle’ “

Musical Inspiration:  “Mender of Hearts” by Sing Kauhr and Kim Robertson