Writing a title for this was hard. I still don't feel the title quite fits where this post is headed, but we'll run with it. I strive to always be positive when I'm posting anything here or on social media, but I wanted to share some real, raw feelings with regard to where my mind's been lately. This post isn't just meant for engaged couples, but for fellow wedding professionals and fellow creatives as well.
"Off season" is always a time for us to get re-energized, get better organized for the upcoming season, re-evaluate how we've done things in the past and improve where we can do better. Off season is also a time when I can sort of reflect on the wedding industry and all of the behind-the-scenes stuff that keeps us driving forward.
It gives me a chance to re-focus and get excited about the upcoming season (the longer it's been since our last photo shoot, the more eager I am to get back out there). I catch up on all the latest wedding blogs, peruse Instagram, and while part of me swoons over all of the eye candy and the latest trends, there's another part of me that sort of feels disillusioned. Not with weddings. No, I still love weddings. But on any given day, I can scroll through my newsfeed where I've followed all of the major wedding blogs and see photos that all somehow seem to have come from the same wedding. The sad thing is that they haven't.
If you were to browse Pinterest and some of the major wedding blogs, you'd be led to believe there's pretty much one way to decorate a wedding, there are only 3 or 4 wedding dresses you can possibly choose from, and there's only one way to photograph these weddings. I'm not a bride anymore, the days of planning my wedding are long gone, but it's not hard for me to imagine how a bride must feel seeing only one type of wedding represented and thinking that's what her wedding must aspire to as well.
From a photographer's perspective, it's disappointing to look at the beautiful, classic, elegant, sometimes understated weddings we get to document knowing they are unlikely to ever be considered "the right fit" for most of the major wedding blogs or publications. And it's not that blog features are something we should necessarily care about or strive for, but it leaves me feeling a little "over it," to be perfectly honest.
From a business perspective, there's certainly pressure to conform. To conform to a certain style of shooting, to a certain style of post processing, to a certain style of Instagram newsfeed. About a year ago I removed myself from every photographer Facebook group and forum I was a part of. For lots of reasons. While there was a lot of value in learning from those with more experience, being able to ask others how to handle a complicated situation, there was also this feeling that everyone was trying so hard to do exactly what everyone else was doing. And my gut instinct told me that wasn't the sort of community I could truly benefit from. I recently came back into the fold with a large group of creative professionals across the country, primarily composed of young newcomers in several creative fields. It's a lovely community, supportive and kind, but I find that there is still a sense of conformity that simply can't be truly good for business and true creativity.
I won't claim to be the most original person in the world. I'm not. I find myself constantly fighting MYSELF to stay true to myself. Fighting the voice in my head, fighting my doubts and unfounded fears. I must constantly remind myself to trust my own instincts, to do what feels right because it has worked for me thus far. I must also remind myself to be content with where I am. I truly feel I've found my "sweet spot," so to speak. I genuinely love the straightforward, elegant, classic weddings we have the privilege of photographing. There's nothing that can compare to working with kind, down-to-earth people
Here's my request. Whether you're a bride, a fellow photographer, a fellow creative, or just a fellow human being - trust yourself. Be content. Do whatever it is you want to do, your own way. Planning your wedding? It doesn't need to be boho chic with flower crowns out on a cliff with a flower wall and fireworks going off during your first kiss. Trust me, it really doesn't. It can be at a popular venue in your hometown, you can wear your grandmother's veil or the one you just bought at the store. It will be just as beautiful. No, it will be MORE beautiful. Just do what feels right to you. Do what makes your heart sing. Running a creative business? Stop looking only at what others in your specific specialty are doing. Just because it's popular on Instagram doesn't mean you MUST do it. Get out of that headspace. Yes, ask questions. Yes, take advice from seasoned professionals. Apply what you learn to what you do, with your own twist, on your own terms.
If you can do that, I will keep doing what feels right to me: classic, timeless photography with vibrant colors and rich editing; constantly upping my off-camera flash game; never using the word ORGANIC unless we're talking about a vegetable; spoiling my clients with customer service that goes above and beyond; not trying to be a size 2 because I love wine and bread too much; rocking my Target and Loft fashion like a boss; standing alone in my convictions even when they're unpopular.
Always fight to stay true to yourself even in your low moments and I promise you won't regret it. (And I'm preaching this to myself as much as I'm preaching it to you).