My Thoughts on Pinterest (For Brides)
Pinterest has become quite the topic of conversation over the past couple of years. From home decor, to meal planning, to throwing a fabulous party, the term "I got it from Pinterest" is a pretty common one. One of the main contenders on that list of "Pinspiration" topics is wedding planning. Now, before I go any further with this, I should note that I think the creators of Pinterest have executed a genius idea in the world of web browsing, and in fact, I do use it sometimes with outfit planning direction for sessions. However, there are certain elements that make Pinterest far less than a Godsend. Pinterest, unfortunately, sometimes creates expectations among brides that often have far more elements that come into play than just recreating a pretty picture. Not to mention that whole stealing someone else's idea thing...
In this post, I will outline some key points that photographers and other creative professionals in the wedding industry probably want you to know about WHY those pages of Pinterest photos you want recreated probably aren't helping you get the best final product from YOUR day.
PHOTOJOURNALISTIC OR "LIFESTYLE" PHOTOGRAPHY
These are terms you may have heard to describe photography in recent years. These coined terms describe natural, realistic, emotion-driven photography. New clients come to me and SO OFTEN the first thing they say is, "I want you because your images look so natural, not posed." Those images you see where a couple looks so natural, laughing or sharing a sweet little kiss? That's "lifestyle" esque photography. Yes, I'm probably directing them to some degree or another, but I'm not controlling their every "pose." I'm letting their movements and interaction with one another flow naturally based on the cues I'm giving them and their own individual personalities. We see our best work in candid moments of raw emotion.
What's my point? When us creative-brained people are focused on making sure we get the requested photos from your 5 page printed out Pinterest board, we MISS those candid ones. We're human, and if we have a creative-driven brain, it likely works in it's own particular routine of execution. Maybe you haven't thought of it this way, but we are artists. We WANT to create AUTHENTIC, FINE ART for you. So let us. (:
Here's a suggestion (since I know better than to think you'll give up Pinterest cold turkey)...Use Pinterest for a springboard of wedding inspiration if you wish, but make those ideas your own. Think of the bigger picture of your day, then change those small ideas to fit into an overall vision that is all your own. You do the planning, you lay out all of the pretties, then leave the authentic documentation of your beautiful work to us. If you've planned it ahead of time, there's no reason we can't come in and document your vision that has come to life with the creative eye you hired us for.
ELEMENTS OF NATURE AND THE FACTORS/PACE OF A WEDDING DAY
What you've probably never put much thought to when looking at wedding photos on Pinterest, or heck, even a tutorial of how to make paper bows, is that what you're seeing is the final product of that person's work, whatever it may be. For a photographer, it was probably a photo chosen among many more (not ever seen) taken from that session or wedding. It was very likely taken with his or her curated end goal for the collection of work in mind.
Additionally, there's a pretty whopping chance that that photo you saw on Pinterest was NOT a completely planned out moment--that moment that you're asking to be replicated. Doesn't that seem cheap to you? Don't you want your own, AUTHENTIC feelings portrayed in your photos?
Let me explain. You see, when I take a photograph, there are several different elements of creativity and structure going through my head at any given time (ie. lighting, focal points, location, time of day, angles, etc). These are in addition to choosing between posing, candid moments, and the end product I have in mind to cohesively piece together the entire collection. In fact, each location and the way I direct clients and have them interact is a unique combination to them. It's a mixture of my vision based on the elements (outfits, wedding details, venues) they've given me AND their own particular personalities. My goal is to make the photographs natural and representative of what is uniquely them. If I'm replicating someone else's idea, how can I organically portray my own clients?
MOST "D.I.Y." WEDDING PINSPIRATION YOU SEE IS NOT ACTUALLY D.I.Y.
The truth is, most highly pinned pins are photographs taken by photographers working with reputable vendors in the industry on the wedding. While I'm not saying that everyone needs or can afford a wedding planner, I am, unfortunately, bursting your bubble. These photos are more than likely taken by photographers working with Grade A wedding planners, florists, etc and are very intricately planned out.
And THAT is if the photograph you're seeing isn't actually a product of a "styled shoot." For those of you who don't know, a styled shoot is when many fabulous vendors come together to put their creativity to life. It's basically what us creatives would do if we had full reign all of the time. Styled shoots are BEAUTIFUL my friends, and they are a GREAT GREAT GREAT way to find wedding inspiration and direction, but keep in mind, there was a fabulous team put together to create all of those perfect elements you see.
Nonetheless, if they are DIY projects, it's not just throwing some twine on some mason jars and calling it a day. It's planning out tablescapes on your own, it's taking lighting into consideration, it's thinking about how that beautifully designed cake you ordered will look in front of a generic white curtain backdrop you've settled with from the reception hall because you "don't want to make any more decisions."
Why am I blabbing on about this? Because if you want something like what you're seeing, YOU need to put the planning and work in beforehand to make it happen--or hire people who will. You can even ask me for a little direction to see what your options are for making your vision happen. I want the absolute best for you, and for me. It's not impossible, it's VERY possible. It just requires preparation and communication. I'm a photographer, not a magician. I can't pull bunnies out of hats if you don't provide hats and bunnies. ( :
Kady and Brandon's wedding in this post, for example, WAS actually all executed by meticulous planning by her. Kady followed wedding blogs and asked the questions from professionals and/or did the research to achieve the picture perfect wedding she wanted. She hired someone the day of to simply keep things in order and and make sure her vision was executed smoothly. But most of all, she planned ahead of time, keeping in mind the final aesthetic and how the choices she made would look in photographs.
Am I saying everyone needs to go to these lengths? No. But I am saying that if you're envisioning photographs like you pin, then yes, you do.
Wedding days move quickly. They are filled with excitement, tons of people, and usually a bride who wants to relax (and should). This means she is not dishing out orders. And since the mother hen of the vision is NOT giving out orders on the day of, timeline planning for the day is essential.
In fact, if any of my current brides are reading this, they're probably laughing knowing I'd put this in here. I'm NEUROTIC about timeline planning in advance, y'all. I wine and dine them and we meticulously discuss and account for every minute of the day when we plan months ahead of time. Every photographer does not do this, but I do. Why? Because even if it's time marked off for simply WAITING or doing nothing, communication is clear and everyone knows what and when they are responsible for something. It sounds stringent, but I promise, it actually has quite the opposite effect when it comes to the execution of a more laid back, emotion filled day.
Why am I talking about timelines on a Pinterest themed post? Because those photographs you see pinned likely came as a product of time set aside for creative photographs. A timeline where the bride and groom did a first look, had a cocktail hour where they slipped away for styled photographs, or just simply slipped away. It's true. It's a less common practice in the South it seems, but in many other places, the married couple actually designates a "cocktail hour" of sorts for guests while they sneak off with the photographer for professional photos. You can read even more extensively about my thoughts on that time topic in a whole separate post I wrote, here.
The VAST, GEESH EVER-SO-VAST majority of photos you're probably drooling over on Pinterest are coming from the cushioned time block the photographer has to be creative pre-ceremony, during the first look, or during that cocktail hour. So, once again, if you don't give me bunnies and hats, I can't do the magic. And TRUST ME, I wanna work alllllllll of that magic for you.
Much like a marriage, we are a team. Communication, collaboration, and trust are absolute key. I can give you BETTER than what you see on Pinterest, because it will be authentic to you. But we must work on a basis of trust, communication, and collaboration.
THE FINAL WORD WE CREATIVE PROFESSIONALS WANT YOU TO KNOW...
We photographers, wedding planners, videographers, florists, venues, etc--have seen these styles of photographs and we may, very well, even know the artist(s) in the wedding industry who helped create it. We want nothing more for your final, beautiful outcome AND for our own careers, to achieve these same types of final products.We study blogs, we travel around the country to workshops, we study styles, we study the composition of others' great work. We admire it and we grow from it, but as respectable artists and creators, we do not copy it. We've probably already seen it and used it as a learning tool to make our own work more authentic, but never (or at least I hope never) to copy someone else's.
SO, when you're thinking about using Pinterest, I challenge you to instead approach it with a mindset of authenticity. I challenge you to, instead of copying, brainstorm an overall vision that you have for your day--feelings, style, and atmosphere that represents you. Ask the professionals you've hired for their personal and professional advice of how and where you may be able to reference to achieve it, then make it your own. I can't speak for other professionals, but I can tell you that I would gladly spend a little extra time than I'm paid for with a bride or client asking for my advice, because I know it means we are working together to create something authentic. And because your own is SO much better than any replica.