I shoot for myself – what does that really mean when talking about photographers and styles?

A few years back I had the pleasure of hearing one of my favorite wedding photographers speak, Mr. Joe Buissink.    Always inspired by his work I listened to each and every word as if he where preaching the gospel.   I thing he said that I’ve always remembered – and try to run my own business by is, “I shoot for me.”

My interpretation on that has always been along the lines of I’m not merely a trained professional photographer using my skills to capture the photographs of a wedding the way my client wants them captured, but rather as a artist who is telling the story of the day as it was seen through my eyes.

Recently another wedding photojournalist whom I admire greatly, Jeff Ascough of Lancashire in England, responded to a question on his blog which you can view here.

The comment made on the image was,
“I agree that this perhaps captures the moment as truthfully as is typical of this part of the day, but I wonder if this serves the photographer more than the bride? If it is a sweet decisive moment, is it a shot that the bride (and groom) remember as being significant?”

and Jeff’s wonderful reply which so eloquently captures what he does for his clients, much in the same way I think of what I do for my clients.

“This is probably where I and many photographers part company in terms of shooting philosophy. Many see the photography as commerce, and take images which satisfy the bride on a very basic level; other photographers like myself take pictures that satisfy their own artistic or emotional requirements and offer these to the bride as their representation of the wedding day.

Where some brides book photographers who satisfy their basic photographic requirements, others book photographers who offer more in terms of artistic interpretation. I often refer to visual literacy, and the more visually literate the bride, the more there is an appreciation for the skill involved in turning a pedestrian moment into a beautiful image.”

I often wonder if I might book more weddings if I was approaching my wedding photography more as commerce and less as art, just doing rock solid good looking traditional work.   But while it might better feed the family, would it feed my soul as well?

Lets face it, the main reason I’m a wedding photographer isn’t to make a lot of money – but because it’s my passion.  Make no mistake I get paid pretty well to shoot weddings – I’m far from the cheapest or most budget friendly photographer you’ll find in town.  However being an IT network engineer with extensive training in Microsoft and Apple operating systems and networking – I have a lot of options to bring money into the house.

Nope, I simply shoot weddings for me, to feed my passion and my artistic side of expression and visual story telling.   I’m just so very fortunate to have so many clients see the skill and talent I use to tell those visual stories and commission me and my team not as hourly skilled workers, but as artists.

If my work strikes a cord with you I urge you to take a few moments and visit the sites of these two amazing photographers and look at their portfolios.

Joe Buissink

Jeff Ascough

Wedding Photojournalism