Photography isn’t about pointing and shooting, or is it about remaining silently in the background taking pictures. Good photographs result from a number of factors:
The skill of the photographer. It’s not about setting the camera on automatic and aiming it. When I am working, I take into account the ambient light (background), how I want my subjects to be lit (never on camera flash!), what the subjects have asked of me (client preferences and requests), as well as what I want the image to say. I set my F-stop, shutter speed, light output accordingly, then I place my subjects where I want them (or myself where I can capture them the way way I want to), in the best possible pose, and then I create the image. All of this happens in few quick seconds.
The background prep work. I don’t expect my clients to be able to stand in front of my camera and smile pretty for me. That’s not the way it works. My clients are everyday people, not models. My job is to make them look the best they can look, no matter what, and this takes some background work. This happens during conversations with my clients. If this is for a wedding, I will ask a zillion questions, not only the common ones like, “where are you getting married?” I will also want to know the first names of everyone in your immediate family who is attending. Why? Because this helps me get to know you and it helps on the day of the wedding, when I can approach your mom and say, “Hi Jane, I’m Karen, the photographer. I’m going to be taking lots of photos today. I will want you to stick around after the ceremony because photos with you and your daughter are important. And of course, if you have any requests, let me know.” Then, when I’m doing the family photos, I can address Jane by name, instead of “mother of the bride.” Photography is personal, and it’s all about the communication. We’ll have lots of it if I’m to be your photographer. I will ask questions, and really listen to your answers. And I will encourage questions from you, and answer them thoroughly and thoughtfully.
My personal preparation. When I’m preparing for a wedding, I begin the day before. Weddings are hard work physically. I once wore to a wedding one of those little gadgets that tracks your mileage when walking. In five hours I walked 6 miles! I can’t do my job properly if I am not well rested and well nourished. So I make sure I get plenty of rest and and that I eat healthy. The day of the wedding, I do what I like to call a pre-flight check. I consider a wedding as important as a plane flight. No, it’s not that your life will be in jeopardy if my equipment fails, but I recognize that a wedding is the most important day in a person’s life, and the photos will become heirlooms. This means I need to make sure my equipment is functioning properly. All of it is tested: main camera, back up camera, multiple flash units, as well as the gadgets that allow multiple flashes to speak to one another, or to allow those flashes and the camera to speak remotely without wires. Batteries are all charged, with fresh ones installed and replacements easily available.
And last but not least, I take a few moments of silent reflection just before my job with you begins. I usually do this in the car in the parking lot of where I am to meet with you at the beginning of the day. During this time I affirm that I’ve done all the prep work, I’m refreshed and energized and ready to go, my equipment is all working properly, and then I do a bit of inner spiritual reflection and connection, finished off with an acknowledgement of gratitude for what is about to occur. Then I’m ready to go!