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Professional Photography: Just hitting a button???

I thought it would be interesting to write a blog on this as I used to be 'that person' with the typical notion, that photography was just hitting a button and good photographers were just good at editing photos and had nice cameras (yes me...a professional wedding photographer). Fast forward 4 years after shooting my first wedding with Jenny and I have a completely different perspective, appreciation and love for the art of doing what I do. Notice I said art, because at the root of it all, you are creating moments & memories that may have otherwise been forgotten. Many times we are able to capture a particular event or moment at a time when no one else was looking and more often than not, these end up being many of our clients favorite photos.

I was fortunate that when I got into this, my wife was an established professional who had been shooting for years since college and even teaching high schoolers. She knew everything I didn't but the one thing she didn't have to teach was "vision". I'll never forget the first wedding I shot with her as a back up, she told me my goal was to capture candid moments of people during the reception having a good time. Not having to worry about any of the pivotal moments during the day, I was free to roam around and capture everyone else just hanging out....for several hours! I thought I would've been bored to death after circling the venue a dozen times and seeing the same people over and over but I slowed down, put my eye to the viewfinder and low & behold, I started to notice the little things. At the end of the day when she was reviewing my photos, she told me I had a good eye. Lord knows I didn't have any skill yet but the building blocks were there (I guess being married to a professional photographer and artist has it's perks!).

What I mean when I say good eye or vision is the ability to create something from nothing or to look at something seemingly ordinary and visualize a shot exactly how you want it to turn out and then creating that vision and making it something extraordinary. This is where the 4 years of guidance and learning has paid off as you learn what you and your equipment are capable of not to mention you will continue to develop the ability to visualize. I have an example below.

Here we have a simple bridge from one of our recent shoots. Well built, not too hard on the eyes, but not the most attractive thing to just stand or sit someone on and take a picture, or is it? When we approached this spot, the mom for the little boy Jackson we were photographing wanted a picture of him on the bridge and when I got here I saw what I wanted to do given the space, the lighting, the background, and the overall setting. I had to switch my lens, adjust my aperture, adjust my shutter speed, adjust my focal point and play with my ISO until I got just the right look. Below is the result

We were able to make Jackson's side profile the point of focus while letting him play naturally. With the particular adjustments we made, we were able to create a photo that was light and airy with a shallow depth of field blurring out most of the background which had an entire parking lot full of cars. A few slight adjustments in lightroom and we have an image that is playful, curious, and in the moment. From other perspectives you are able to get other looks, but this was the vision, and we were able to create a moment.

Today I am definitely aware that my assumption 4 years ago was wrong. Do good photographers have good equipment and editing capabilities? No doubt, but it takes someone with vision and skill to create images as intended. I read something the other day that really hit home and I wanted to share with you. I can't remember where I found it so I'm going to paraphrase, but it couldn't be more dead on when it comes to working with a photographer. When you hire a photographer, you're not just hiring a person with a camera, you're hiring everything they've felt, every photo they've seen and studied, every song they've heard, and every experience they've had. It truly is an art and I'm thankful today to be blessed with the gifts that continue to help us capture all the beautiful moments life has to offer.


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