Archive for February, 2010
Laura was stretching her journalism legs on Monday night at the 20th Century Fox Studios here in Los Angeles. The Natural Resources Defense Council hosted a special screening of clips from the new Oscar nominated James Cameron film, Avatar. Following the screening, Cameron was interviewed by Elvis Mitchell (host of KCRW’s The Treatment). Mitchell and Cameron focused their conversation on Avatar’s strong environmental message. For more information about the event, check out the Huffington Post’s article here with Laura’s photography included. Our favorite photograph from the event is below. Have you seen Avatar? Does the environmental message come through for you? Let us know what you think by clicking the ‘comment’ button below!
We in the wedding industry are all guilty of it. We like to plan. It’s comforting to know what will happen next. But planning and spontaneity are inverse principles: the more you plan, the less spontaneous the wedding day is. Sure, the impulse to plan makes sense: weddings are complicated events, and without a clear plan they’d quickly become disorganized, even chaotic.
But the tendency to over-plan is strong. I question it because it threatens the candid, genuine moments that make each wedding special – the moments that, as a documentary photographer, mean the most to me, and also mean the most to the people that hire us for our photographic instincts.
Take for example the recent trend to orchestrate a ‘first look’ on your wedding day. For centuries, most brides and grooms first glimpsed one-another as the bride walked down the aisle towards the alter, or, in Jewish tradition, when the couple came together to sign their Ketubah, the wedding contract. But recently there’s been a trend among wedding planners and photographers to have brides and grooms see each other earlier in the day. That would be fine, as far as I’m concerned, so long as the couples simply did what felt natural to them. But now in many cases brides and grooms basically are being given stage directions: go to this particular place at this particular time, stand like so, etc., and the photographer will make a beautiful “first look” photo. Sometimes there are even props involved! Not exactly the recipe for a genuine moment.
If you are not familiar with this trend, try googling ‘wedding first look’.
Of course there are reasons things have evolved this way. Many wedding planners are extremely well organized people. That’s a good thing. The danger is when organization becomes micro-management and couples lose the space they need to be themselves.
We photographers have to take responsibility, too. Couples expect us to make beautiful photographs of all of the key moments during the day, and the less we leave to chance, the easier that is…in a way.
But canned, predictable beauty is one thing. Authentic, raw beauty is something else. Sure, it’s riskier. But it’s real.
In November, I worked with a bride who abhorred all things wedding. She didn’t want to plan much of anything other than getting all her friends and loved ones in the same room to witness the start of her marriage. The week before the wedding we spoke. A sign of how pervasive some wedding trends are, I found myself asking her to keep an eye out for locations where she and her fiancée might see one another for the first time. She laughed and said she didn’t want to even think about this idea again, she wanted to simply see her fiancée, however it played out and I would be there to capture it. She loved the beauty of real life. I obliged and we never discussed her so-called ‘first look’ again. Come the wedding day, she got dressed without an audience, walked down the stairs, greeted her family and upon being told her fiancée was headed over, she simply said, “let’s do this,” and opened the door. I followed her, quickly, onto a small, windy path leading away from the bungalow where she had gotten ready. It had gotten dark since we’d last been outside, and to my surprise, there was the groom, a few feet ahead, walking to greet her.
At that moment, I cursed the plan not to plan their first look. The path was not well lit nor wide enough to capture both their faces at the same time and in her haste, there was no way my assistant could have gotten ahead of her to capture my reverse angle. I was thankful, however, that I already had my camera loaded with high-speed film. I went back to my roots as a photojournalist and reacted quickly. I adjusted my exposure, and composed the picture, despite the fact that the bride’s back was to me. This could be interesting, I thought, or I could have just blown it. I was shooting film, so there was nothing to do but count on reflexes because it would be days before I’d see the result. Below is the shot…and it’s actually become one of my favorite images from last year. It’s completely real and unique. It conveys the sudden, spontaneous beauty of the moment, it captures the feel of recent nightfall and a cozy winter night. If you know the location, it feels just like that early evening felt. So, on this day in early November I re-learned a great lesson that I hope to remember and to pass on. Plan less, experience more.
What do you think? Would you be comfortable leaving your ‘first look’ to chance? Do you have un-staged photos of how you saw your wife or husband for the first time?
First goal of 2010. Don’t make perfect the enemy of the good. This is certainly apt if you plan to blog because at some point after putting ink to paper, or toiling away at the computer for hours with quiet thoughts in your head, you have to hit that ‘publish’ button. So, without further ado, we wish our readers a very healthy, happy and prosperous new decade!
My first personal shot of the year, taken minutes after “Auld Lang Syne” stopped echoing in my ears at The Park, a homey neighborhood restaurant loved by foodies, situated at a bend on the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Douglas in Echo Park, CA.
We’re avid blog readers but long-time NON-bloggers, so with great anticipation we launch the Docuvitae Blog today. As we leave the aughts, it just feels like it’s time to blog.
Our goal with the Docuvitae Blog is to provide a place where couples getting married, parents seeking a family photographer, or businesses and non-profit organizations seeking to hire a photographer to document their event can be inspired by work not beholden to trends or the typical. We are documentarians, artists and photojournalists. We are concerned about our world. Photography is a tool for us to express our views and creativity while also collaborating with our clients.
We believe our interests and engagement in the world at large make our wedding, event and family photography distinctive, and this blog will be a place to discuss all of that – to share our work with you, of course, but also to challenge the norms and expectations in the wedding and family photography industries, and to question the way we and other photographers go about our work. As a result, this will be a bit different than most.
We’ll post not only new photographs from our wedding and family shoots, but also share our photojournalism, fine art, personal and commercial work. And we’ll post work by other artists who inspire us. We may link to other photography sites, share art exhibits we enjoy or post film clips from movies we love.
The point is to create a place to talk about the way imagery shapes our lives, a place to enjoy beautiful or provocative visual art, and a place share the view from the other side of the camera.
Please enjoy, comment and visit regularly.
-Laura Kleinhenz, Founder and Principal Photographer of Docuvitae