Tuesday, July 21, 2009

your wedding is not a photo shoot


Last night I discovered that the photos of a very pretty, very photogenic "real wedding" that has gotten a lot of attention on the wedding-y blogs were not in fact from a real wedding. They were from a shoot for Nashville Lifestyles. I pieced it together when I came across the same photos in the lookbook for Billy Reid.

Um, WTF?

Don't we see too many images of models already? As one of my fave tweeters put it, "It looks cool n shit. But call it what it is & stop fueling peoples unreal expectations that real weds look like mag ads."

Here's my advice from the other side: unpretentious, real wedding photos will always be cooler than the slick facsimiles. Don't let those stylists give you a complex.*

Exhibit A: Polaroid of Jamie and Ben by Michelle Pullman. Go ahead, models. Just try and fake that joy.

*And don't let em overstyle your wedding. What if it were the other way round and someone mistook your wedding for a magazine shoot? Barf.

56 comments:

  1. Bleurgh indeed! I have no desire for things to look look perfect, just for the joy to shine.

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  2. Yes! "Your wedding is not a photo shoot" pretty much sums up what's wrong with so many weddings today in my eyes.

    I think I posted way back about how couples should ask themselves if they would still want to get married if they weren't allowed to have the big party until ten years later. Next question should be, "would you still want to get married if all photography was banned? How would this change your wedding plans?"

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  3. Oooh!!!!! Fun questions cate!!!!!!
    Tots.

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  4. sweet... not saccharine. perfection.

    also, enough with the still life with bride shots... do we really need 150 photos of the bride in the same position while you swap various family members in and out? i don't think so.

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  5. amazing I didn't notice that before, a quick look again at once wed and I realize they're both wearing several different outfits. lame, the indie DIY wedding has now become the mainstream. what will people cling to next to assert there "originality"

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  6. :)

    real photos are much better!

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  7. amennnnnnnnnnnn!

    (i think i make that comment on your blog a lot, don't i? hmm)

    anyway. seriously. so true. when i first got engaged i found myself getting caught up in the photographer crazy - as in - OMG-MUST-FIND-BEST-PHOTOGRAPHER-MUST-CAPTURE-EVERY-MOMENT-OF-THE-DAY. then i realized that i'd rather drop a couple grand elsewhere (or, really, not drop it anywhere and leave it in the bank where it belongs).

    i also would personally feel uncomfortable with a stranger following me around all day and snapping pictures.

    hence. no photographer, just some friends/fam with awesome cameras and skills.

    and ditto cate subrosa - so many ppl seem to be planning their weddings AROUND what the photos will look like. ick.

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  8. Yes! I read something similar to what Cate says about if your only choice was to get married tomorrow with nobody there would you still want to do it. Although I love artistic photography, you can't fake emotion and when I look at my pictures all I want to see is love.

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  9. It seems like all the weddings that get featured in the blogs are of the whisp thin brides that just scream I'm soooo coool. Ugh.
    I would really love to see the REAL weddings. I loved Cate's wedding and others who look like real people. They really inspired me more than the "perfectly posed" ones.
    Since I was a plus size bride it was really difficult to find pictures in any of the blogs that would help me. I've started a new blog http://theplussizebride.blogspot.com/ if you know of some ladies that would like to have their wedding highlighted send them my way. I would love to show how beautiful you can be even if you dress size is a little larger.

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  10. good point! thanks! damn bridal magazines and perfection blogs...

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  11. all the blogs i saw that wedding shoot on, including once wed, made it clear that was in fact a photoshoot not a real wedding...

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  12. I must not be down with my weddings. :) Which one are we talking about?

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  13. Wow, I had no idea by putting the shoot my friends Tec and Joy did for the magazine in the real weddings section of once wed would create so much controversy.

    When I originally posted it on the blog I mentioned it was for Nashville Lifestyles magazine and credited all the vendors involved, but thought they both did such an amazing job it would be a great fit for our real weddings section.

    If I offended anybody or made any one uncomfortable I do apologize. It of course wasn't my intention. There is already so much negativity in our world...the last thing I would want people to do is leave Once Wed feeling anything but inspired.

    Take Care
    Emily

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  14. I agree with Julia. Every blog I saw this wedding on (including that of the photographer and his wife) mentioned that it was a stylized photo shoot for a magazine. Hence, every time I saw it on a blog I breezed by it quickly knowing that real weddings hold much more inspiration for me.

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  15. Hilarious. I started writing this post two days ago. There you go, digging around in my head again. I am, however, totally going to talk about it anyway, because HELLO? Yesssss...

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  16. Thank you for being brave enough to post what you want! I love it!

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  17. It's a beautiful shoot but the last thing people need is even more unrealistic ideas of what a wedding should look like.

    And yes, it is obviously credited as a photo shoot in the original articles but it is also listed in the 'real weddings' section of Once Wed, which is somewhat misleading.

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  18. Shows how naive I am...I saw your tweet and looked at the sites and thought "surely this is not what is happening...fashion photo shoots masquerading as real weddings?" Well. There you have it. Thanks for telling it like it is, sister!

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  19. Peonies and Polariods- I agree and have since taken down. Like I mentioned above, it was a beautiful shoot and I didn't even think twice of putting it in the galleries but can see now how it could be seen as misleading.

    Thanks for the candor.

    Emily

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  20. Hear, hear for the real weddings! I want mine to be fabulous but not scripted or a shiny plastic replica of something else. I just want it to be us .. pure, unadulterated us.

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  21. well I'd just like to say Thanks Emily for addressing this and handling it like you have. I would agree that posting it in the real weddings section was a Little confusing for those who didn't see the original post where you noted it was just a photo shoot.. But had you just put pieces of it in the Inspiration Galleries rather than Real Weddings, there's nothing wrong with showcasing it. Sure we all see a lot of wedding porn where we think "I could never be that cool boo hoo" but we're also always looking for inspiration and ideas from wherever we can get it and that was a great photo shoot for that purpose.

    Having said that.. I love Cate's questions. And I agree with Plus Size Bride that the blogs are seriously lacking in that department. And of course ESB's whole point that your wedding is not a photo shoot is completely true and a good reminder for those of us currently freaking out that we can't afford a big-time Tec Petaja or Max Wanger...

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  22. I second most people's comments, but loved Meg's twitter post (tweet? god, I'm so un-twitter-ized) question about "what would your wedding look like if there WASN'T any photography?"

    That, my friends, is an excellent question.

    I'm a total photography whore, but at the same time, what in gods name do you do with 2500+ magazine worthy-images?

    Again, Miss Practical Wedding put it perfectly when she posted about alternative photography options and pointed out that all we really need is 10 great pictures - more than that, what the hell do we do with them?

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  23. Thank you for this. Times a million. I love me my wedding blogs, but the photo obsession does perpetuate the "you must be a supermodel for a day" thing a lot and this incident seems like a pretty crazy illustration of that culture. I wrote about this a while back and felt like some kind of freak for it! For wanting real photos, and for having no desire to be a supermodel bride!

    You are smart.

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  24. Oh and THANK YOU to Plus Sized Bride for her comments--I have been wanting to write about the same issue but haven't had the courage to yet.

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  25. Thanks Emily for reclassifying it. I had somehow spaced on the fact that it was a photo shoot and two weeks ago, I was totally stressing out that my hair and makeup would never look as good as that brides, ack, ack, ack. So, it was sort of sweet relief when I realized *why.*

    That said, they really are lovely pictures, and I was looking at her dress for inspiration, so I'm really glad they will be in the inspiration galleries. Your galleries are super awesome and useful, so go give yourself a hug.

    I think ESB's post is a little broader in focus... because I've seen this happen more than a few times, where the fact that it wasn't a photoshoot wasn't noted, which is ick. Plus, what? Your wedding should not look or feel like a photoshoot. No, no, no.

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  26. Thanks for taking it out of the Real Weddings section Emily, I'm sure it's much appreciated by all!

    Just for the record, I don't think that there's anything wrong at all with publishing beautiful wedding shoots as inspiration (God knows we all love beautiful images of beautiful people in beautiful surroundings!) just as long as it's clear that they're not 'real' life. It drives me mad when wedding photographers litter their galleries with images from shoots they've done for magazines, designers etc. Not only is it fuelling the expectation that your wedding is or should look like a photo shoot but it is totally misleading from a photography point of view as photographing models made beautiful by stylists is a very different skill from photographing real people.

    Anyway, I realise that my first comment was a bit, um, abrupt and grumpy so I just wanted to second Meg in saying that your inspiration galleries are a work of art and to thank you for them!

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  27. Barf. Glad the good guys fixed their part.

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  28. I do love you east side.You always write what I've been thinking. As photographers we always want to full fill our clients expectations, yet we don't want our client's weddings to become a photo shoot. It's a delicate balance in this saturated information wedding world, to not get sucked into that. We make a conscience effort not to make our weddings a photo shoot. Often we have cool ideas or see beautiful light out of the window, but if the timing isn't right we won't interrupt the flow. I often say that exact same thing when I am planning with a bride "it's a wedding not a photo shoot" has kinda become our mantra.

    Many of our treasured photographs are quick fractions of seconds that I could never imagine happening ahead of time or "styling". Just being aware of the moment and ready is what leads to these sweet images. Oh, and having a couple with some great chemistry helps to and no they don't need to be models.

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  29. although i agree that it is a beautiful shoot and should not have been included under "real weddings", esb's post made me feel so much better about my upcoming wedding AND budget. i need to keep in focus the real reason that i am getting married. granted, i do want my wedding to be beautiful and hope to get some great photos out of it. but i'm glad someone spoke to the unrealistic expectations you can come away with after viewing such shots.

    thanks, as always, esb!!

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  30. hmm. interesting. billy reid going viral? i guess they fooled us.

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  31. You're so right (and awesome). Thanks for this!

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  32. As someone guilty of having been a freaking model, I'm allergic to all of that sh*t. It cheapens the experience, in my high-falutin' opinion.

    No over-staged engagement shoots for us. When me & the Mr. hang out, I'm off the clock.

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  33. Yeah, Heather! Preach it. Thanks for making the point that love of good photos and dislike of weddings as photo shoots are *not* mutually exclusive. It's harder to do what you are talking about, and truer.

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  34. hee hee. in reading all of these i remember having *our* photos being referred to as commercial looking. then i went back and read the post you linked to and found this, from, ahem, meg "Holy cr*p WOW! It looks like a spread from a high fashion magazine! Ooooooooo...." ummm. were you actually dissin us? :)

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  35. It's a great shoot. period. inspired photos, sexy styling, killer set design, props, the works. I'd be blown away if I ran across images of this caliber while leafing through Nashville Lifestyles, wouldn't you? It deserves attention on the blogs for transcending its purposes as a local magazine spread and a calling card for all involved. Great, so what's the problem? Why do I applaud Emily's decision to remove it from the Real Weddings section?

    People cannot tell the difference between this and a real wedding even when it's explicitly spelled out. See some of the comments on Tec's original blog post where he makes abundantly clear up top that these are not real wedding photos. Or 3 out of 4 comments on the original Once Wed post.

    It makes me want to (lightly) shake the people who posted these comments while repeating 'There was never a wedding. Penelope and William do not exist. Those are models named Eric and Freya.' To me they look more like a catalog from Anthropologie* than candid wedding shots, but that's just it. There's an army of brides and grooms are obsessively trying to reverse engineer the anthro or jcrew catalog into a real wedding, and their real wedding photos reflect that. hence the confusion.

    The catalogs and shoots like these take their inspiration from real couples, real wedding trends, and quirky personal details (see banjo) to lend authenticity to their ads or their magazine where they sell ads. The reverse is also true, copying a catalog instead of incorporating as many organic aspects of your life/relationship/friends/family will make your wedding and your pictures soulless. When I look at our wedding pics, the most personal details are what get under my skin and take me back to the happiest moment of my life.

    *who provided decorations and place-settings...again, the resemblance to the catalog is a credit to the photos, I imagine Tec and crew had a much smaller budget.

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  36. east side bride we love you! you couldn't have said it better. i think that's why we created our ezine just to make it more real. the people that we try to have a part of our ezine needs to have the same attitude. it's easy to get caught up in all the hype of the glossy pages, but our goal for our ezine to bring it back to the basics. i would to interview you! if you don't mind. we want to have the interview in our ezine. what do you think? you can say no. it's all good. we'll come back here to read more of your thoughts to keep our ezine real.

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  37. if you are the kind of person who gets your ideas for your wedding from the internet more often than not you will need to be rich and beautiful to realize them. there are some people out there who have it all, but not many, so it isn't hard to believe that most of the stuff you see in magazines, and on blogs (the NEW magazine) is smoke and mirrors (no different than a photo shoot, be it advertising, or editorial!). if you have a wedding that is comprised of ideas that you and your fiance create together and don't spend tons of cash on all of the hallmarks of an "indie or diy" wedding than you are not going to be featured on all of those sites and that probably suits you just fine. there is a formula to how weddings are chosen for features and if you don't fit the mold or if your photogs don't shoot you a certain way you're not gonna make the cut.

    i go to a lot of weddings and most of them are the same 10 recycled ideas... the difference between hit or miss usually lies in the hands of the photogs... if they are creative, skilled, and good editors, their weddings will be featured time and time again, and the things they shoot will become the new trends for next year. the things that stand out to me are when someone does or says something awesome, something that they didn't lift from a post somewhere, something that nobody told them to do... i could give a shit about your table cloths or who made your dress...

    i think that there would be a lot of overwhelmed confused brides in the world if not for inspiration blogs like once wed and it is pretty awesome that they are out there and free! i think we can all agree that those sites (or the heading their content is under) are far from the problem! the problem is people who are boring, uninspired robots who drive the same car, shop at the same mall, and make sure their groom has the red converse! the one unfortunate (and definitely unintended) result of all of those blogs is that everyone is not forced to be creative and come up with their own style, their own traditions, and their own fashion (but this is certainly not something new, nor exclusive to weddings!)

    blogs are slowly becoming the very thing they aimed to destroy just a few years ago. i would really like to see more diversity in every aspect of a wedding on blogs but usually the cool kids can't afford the photographer that can document the cool things they are doing to make them blog ready (ooh just came up with that one!) but this is a small community we are plugged into... stay tuned there are certainly several hundred new trends (soon to be exploited until we hate those ones too)!

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  38. BTW nicely put H-TOWN. Tec definitely deserves all the attention, that was a well done spread.

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  39. we need more male bloggers in this world. very well-articulated, flashdance and htown.

    picture-perfect is never good. no matter how "indie" it is.

    do your own thang, folks.

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  40. Hmm. Forgive me if I am wrong (I am heavy with cold) but I fear you have missed the point theflashdance. The point being that this photoshoot was portrayed as a real wedding.
    I totally agree that the level of perfectionism induced by both the blogs and the industry is unattainable for very few so when an amazingly pretty wedding does it rounds it is nice to see that it is possible. In this case it was done with a little deception. I did not see the article when it was first published and can only review with hindsight. However, I would see nothing dubious if it had been listed as a photoshoot. Indeed, as I imagine most others, would have seen it as inspiring. I still see it as inspiration. Yet inspiration is not the be all and end all. I do not want a carbon copy of a previous wedding, whether it be imagined or real. Furthermore, I would love my wedding to be inspiring but would be sad if someone copied each and every idea.

    I also disagree that blogs provoke a zombie like mindset where everyone inevitably chooses to do the same as everyone else. The fact that fabulous women, and the occasional chap, blog about their thoughts does not make me automatically want to do the same. In fact I would imagine for the vast majority of the free thinkers here in blog world it would do the exact opposite. However, it is almost impossible to be entirely original.

    Do you need to be superrich in order to fulfil the wedding magazine fantasy. Rich in detail does not necessarily equate to rich in finances (although I concede it often will) and whilst the photographer is important (or not as the case should be) you simply cannot fake emotions.

    Oh my, I really am turning into my mother. Did this make any sense?

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  41. hey anna. i think you may have oversimplified my point...

    i think the point is that your wedding is not a vehicle for a photoshoot. personally i don't care if you take a mag spread and call it a wedding, or take a wedding and call it an editorial.

    I think that blogs and magazines give people unrealistic expectations, and create trends that make weddings feel very cookie cutter even though they claim to be hallmarks of independent, free thinking, diy couples. if inspiration posts did not exist EVERYONE would be forced to come up with their own original (whatever that means) ideas & there would be more unique everything in the world. But I wouldn't cut off my nose despite my face it was just an observation... Sometimes people need to put down the internet and make shit (yes, some free thinkers do this, but that is a percentage of a percentage these days, particularly in the wedding world).

    the average cost of a wedding these days is $25K, the average cost of a wedding that is featured on the big wedding blogs is closer to $100K + if you don't think you need to be rich to blow $100K on a wedding than Te salut, Don Corleone!

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  42. no! i adore both anna and flashdance! don't argue!

    i think the whole "diy wedding blog" movement was intended to give folks ideas about how to avoid spending billions, while creating a pretty and personalized (read: unique) day.

    (note: slapping your monogram on something does not make it "personalized.")

    unfortunately, in many cases, it's backfired. as this controversial photoshoot/wedding indicates, mainstream weddings are beginning to mimic the "indie" diy ones.

    and the result is just not very feasible for any couple realistic about their finances and do-it-yourself capabilities.

    to pass off models as real people, to pass off martha stewart creations as diy, it all sets such high standards for us average joes.

    the only way to avoid being sucked in is to focus on the meaning of the day over the aesthetics.

    /rant & blog-take-over

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  43. Hmm Mr Flashdance. I actually agree with you. I was not intimating that you do not need to be rich to spend $100k on a wedding. I was saying that to have a detailed wedding you do not need $100k. Indeed I imagine a number of these fabulous photoshoots are done on a budget (albeit with fabulous contacts).

    I certainly do not not have £40k to blow on a wedding. However, I do not care if other people wish to do so. Yet, this does not stop me wanting to emulate/extrapolate the details in the £40k wedding and make them look fabulous in my wedding.

    I do not want a photoshoot wedding, I want a marriage.

    Hugs xx

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  44. No one can make your wedding feel inferior without your consent. (A little spin on the lovely E. Roosevelt's famous quote) Having said this, who cares if someone misclassified a faux wedding as a real one - esp. if stated as one! These are all just blogs, not commandments for your wedding. And people who have amazing skills, who create these lovely blogs (like Once Wed), and those who wish to decorate or photograph a mock wedding, shouldn't be made to feel like they need to fix their "mistakes." It's clear their intentions are to inspire in the first place. If your wedding is genuine from the get-go, then bogus weddings and all the other ridiculous crap on major sites, shouldn't even get to you.

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  45. I agree w/ you 100%. ppl refuse to live in reality I guess. I think if you just enjoy life and take pics, it will come out better than trying to fake a what a life/happiness/weddings should look like according to the photographer/magazine/website.

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  46. I guess I'm straying from the crowd here, but can't a wedding be both a beautiful display of love and commitment AND a fantastic photo shoot opportunity?

    We just had our engagement shoot last week and the photos are magazine-quality (I think so anyways, haha), but also captured US and how we feel for each other.

    What's wrong with that?

    http://missavictoria.blogspot.com/2009/07/high-line-backdrop-for-our-engagement.html

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  47. Wrong- for me, I have an affinity for high-style and glamour so if I have a paid photographer, I will make darn sure I get my editorial-styled shots. But only because I think they look very sharp and I love fashion magazines. It's to each and their own. I would rely on the photog to capture key elements of the day but I didn't drop a grand on my guy either. He was very affordable, yet very professional and have done weddings before.

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  48. I love this, so true, I want my photos to be beautiful but beautiful is what really happened. not some pose retouched image that didn't really happen

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  49. I wish I had noticed this conversation earlier, but I was on a much needed hiatus from all things wedding.

    Just wanted to note my surprise that no one has mentioned some of the other blogworld-famous wedding shoots that were not real, i.e. http://www.thebridescafe.com/?postID=18&tbc-hearts-max-wanger
    http://ohjoy.blogs.com/my_weblog/2008/11/max-wanger.html

    While I have no problem with photographers doing shoots to build their portfolios (I'm a wedding photographer and prefer not to do this since a shoot wouldn't be an accurate reflection of my actual wedding day work).

    However, I have heard disappointment and confusion from many a bride that saw the shoot listed above, believed it to be a budget-friendly wedding and thus thought that M. Wanger would fit their "indie" wedding budget...which is impossible for a majority of brides working on a 25k or less budget. And I agree with some of the comments above about $100k weddings that appear "DIY" or "indie" becoming the mainstream on many a wedblog site.
    But, shit...100k weddings are pretty and wedding blogs & magazines are "porn"...and porn is typically unrealistic anyway.

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  50. We're actually having friends of the family do our photography and I love it because we will be comfortable with them...even though they are "pros" we really know them. I want to be relaxed and I want people to have fun. I love weddingbee and other blogs like it that have real brides and all their good and bad days. When it comes down to it the day is about us and our family celebrating our love.

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  51. THANK YOU! I'm always saying this and it makes me crazy mad when I see wedding photos that make people look like models. I mean don't you want to look like yourself in your wedding photos? Just a thought/rant.

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  52. I definitely want some posed shots... but that's what they'll be POSED and obviously so... and the rest of the photos i hope document my big day... and by document, i mean capture emotion. It's why i chose my photog carefully and went with Jordana at Hazelnut b/c I think she knows how to get the posed shots but she also captures the emotion and - that's what i really want... the emotions of the day!

    I'm so shocked that some of these "shoots" are actually "shoots" i thought many were real weddings.

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