I wrote this a couple of years ago and it seemed to ruffle a few feathers. Not much has changed, it might actually be getting worse. Anyway, thought I'd leave it here for safe keeping....
It’s true, it is. It’s the same shit over and over and over again.
There are a few wedding photographers that I admire for their individuality and their vision, but mostly, it’s boring as fuck. I see a new post come up in my news feed and my first thought is, ‘I know what this is going to look like’. It’s not very often I’m taken by surprise, it usually looks the same as everything else. Why?
Well, maybe its because a lot of wedding photographers are not photographers. I don’t doubt that they enjoy taking pictures but there’s no understanding of photography, it’s just formulated cookie cutter photography. I gave a talk to a photography club a while back and no one, out of 70 or so people, had heard of William Eggleston. I had to ask if they were joking. They weren’t. There were wedding photographers there that questioned my methods, as if I was deceiving my clients somehow.
I recently had a conversation with someone that went like something like this:
“Oh really, I’m a wedding photographer too”
“Great” I said, “I’ll have a look at your website”
“I haven’t got one yet I’m just starting out”
“Have you photographed many weddings?”
“Just one, but I’ve been into photography for a while, I think I’m gonna do it, properly. I don’t know about you but I love going on workshops and love buying new gear when it comes out. I’ve learned loads about gear from youtube and I’m in some Facebook photography groups.”
“Cool, which photographers are you inspired by?”
“I don’t really know, but I do like all of the wedding stuff I see and what to shoot like that, it looks so much fun doesn’t it”
“I suppose so but do you not want to find your own style and approach to making photographs ?”
“I think that is my style, the light airy wedding stuff I see and I know I can get presets to make it easier”
“Ok, good luck and have fun”
It’s easier to become (perceived as) competent with photography these days, no one has to learn how to expose correctly and that’s the first problem. Learning to expose correctly teaches us to see, to anticipate and say something. Snapping away, adding presets, being a part of Awesome photography groups and patting everyone on the back doesn’t. It breeds complacency, a false sense of achievement and mundane middle of the road identical photographs.
And you guys that have been doing this a while and are bored with your own work or feel trapped (I get emails about this stuff frequently) do something different and don’t be afraid to isolate your audience, because quite frankly it’s likely just other photographers producing the same kind of stuff. Stand on your own two feet and forget about the likes, the comforting kind words of appreciation and make photographs for you. You’ll thank yourself for it, and I might get to see something interesting for a change.