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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Shaking Off the Glitter

Why is it that most brides pick themselves apart in their wedding photos? Even if we do it in jest as Lyn of Another Damn Wedding did about a week ago? Do we really have such little self esteem that we feel the need to batter ourselves before others do?

For a brief moment, let's assume this picking, this jesting, is meant in good fun. What message does that send to future brides? Is the goal of wedding photography really to have all images appear as if they've been taken of models at a photo shoot and not of real people at a live event?

When I was a bride-to-be, I looked to various blogs as encouragement - as Elizabeth of Happy Sighs (aka Liz of Chic on the Cheap) asked future brides to view her wedding blog. Rather than poke fun at her wedding photos, she was honest, I don't have glamorous getting ready shots. Because, surprisingly, I don't look so great while I'm struggling to squash my boobs into a dress while wearing no make-up." Was she initially disappointed and hating her wedding? Yes. The culprit? She pointed to fake weddings (via a post from the East Side Bride).

Early in our planning I wrote about ending the quest for perfection. I was balancing my background as a events photographer with expectations for our wedding photos. I'm glad I let go and set my sights for an unscripted day (that is as unscripted as the day of a wedding or other large event/tradeshow/user group could be).

I see another culprit perpetuating the mythical perfect wedding day. Real brides. Specifically wedding graduates. So it's ok for us to be real about our frustrations with the WIC, our inability to find a ready-made community where we fit, etc. But we're not going to counter the WIC with images from our own weddings? (I'm not talking about real brides who work in industries and/or jobs where being online is frowned upon and can have negative consequences. For example, A Cupcake Wedding could not to post images and explained why.)

Let's take a look at the East Side Bride, an indie bride who believes your wedding is not a photo shoot. In her Wedding Graduate post on A Practical Wedding, she explained why two months after her wedding she hadn't posted many details or shared photos, "Part of me doesn’t want to share my wedding with the world. I think I’m afraid if I shake it too hard the glitter will fall off." (She started blogging 2/4/2008, married 8/9/2008, wrote her wedding graduate post 10/14/2008, and stated her opinion regarding photo shoots 7/21/2009.)

Do we somehow think that if people notice imperfections that what we felt during our ceremony and at our reception will disappear? Will the foundation upon which we've built our relationship crumble and our marriage will be doomed?

Seriously we need to grow up. There are too many examples of The Fairytale Wedding that didn't end in happily ever after for us to believe this. Anyone remember Princess Di? How many little girls wanted to be her? The images were perfect but as tell-all books revealed the reality was far from it.

If we're mad at photographers for only showcasing the pretty people on their websites and their blogs, why aren't we mad at ourselves? We claim to be above the influence of the WIC and in control of our day. Yet if everything isn't perfect or if there's a chance that we might shake the glitter off, we don't want to share. We need to be braver. And we need to refrain from belittling ourselves while we do so.

It's up to every bride who views herself battling the WIC to help demolish these myths. How do we do this? By consciously and carefully choosing who photographs our wedding and by focusing on the emotion not individual stills.

Miss Fancy Pants offers great advice to brides-to-be: "Instead of imagining what the photos will look like and whether or not it'll be blog-worthy, imagine the things that really matter. Imagine how in the moment you'll feel. Imagine how surrounded by love you'll be. Imagine how much love you can spread around to your partner and those who have gathered to celebrate with you. Imagine the end of the day when it's just you and your partner and you're happy that you had a wedding that genuinely reflected who you are as a couple."

While Miss Fancy Pants felt that photos wouldn't be able to capture the feelings, all the love, and the fact a wedding genuinely reflected the couple, I disagree. I think that if you follow advice from Becca of A Los Angeles Love in your search for a photographer, you can capture emotion:
  • Look for a photographer who understands what's beautiful about weddings. 
  • Interview photographers with a representative sample of clients (people of all sizes, colors, sexualities, and wedding styles) on their blogs.
  • Prioritize respect and real human emotion and connection.
Why do I think the right photographer can capture real human emotion and connection? Why do I think it's possible to have images that reveal a wedding that genuinely reflected the couple? I think it's possible because our photographs do just that.

Our wedding is not blog worthy. If you remember that wasn't our goal. Our wedding is authentic and that was our goal.

How are you planning on dealing with an imperfect day?

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