Engaged! Karina and Jeremy
Every once in a while, I get a creative episode and I just want to experiment with everything. New editing techniques, new posing styles, shooting with OCF (off camera flash), just all of it. It's hard to make engagement photos original. The theme of love and commitment is universal when approaching a real-life couple. So how do you do something different? Karina and Jeremy were saints-- they allowed me to really pull from the norm when I visited from Denver last weekend to do their engagement photos. Colorado Springs is only an hour drive, plus I'd never been to Red Rock Canyon, where they wanted to do this session. But back to my question. How to keep doing something different? How to stay original?
When I look at the photos I've taken from one engagement session and compare them to another, it dawns on me that they are different and original. And you know what, I'm gonna brag about that for a second. A lot of shooters have a canned routine. Compare several of their engagement session galleries and after you've seen a few, you may start to notice the same poses, the same gimmicks.
Why are mine all different? I think it's because, one, I always talk to my clients and find out what they want. What are the themes we should present? Are you outdoorsy, urban, chic, thrifty, athletic, nerdy, outgoing, introvert, a party animal, a hermit, or a conglomeration of all traits that make you just the right kind of weird for each other?
There are times that I have to invent some parts of the image. I have to decide what's important in framing and what can make this image resonate not just with my client, but their family and friends. I have to navigate between gimmicks and trends and authenticity (but not too much authenticity.) By the way, someone needs to destroy that stupid hashtag. People who hashtag "authentic" are usually not. Maybe I can get #inauthentic going.
But back to my engagement portraits. My portraits are original because I photograph unique, living beings with personalities and likes and dislikes and quirks that make them all, individually, one of a kind people. When you have a one of a kind subject (which all of us are), and approach their portraits in a way that celebrates their one-of-a-kindness, the originality takes care of itself. The photos don't seem gimmicky, at least not to me, because my subjects are actual people, and I try to remind myself that throughout every shoot.
Pro Tip: If a photographer immediately starts pitching ideas about your portrait session, and you don't relate to any of those ideas, first of all speak up. Say "That sounds stupid and not at all like me/us." A professional shouldn't be offended. Another tip-- look at his or her past engagement sessions and be aware if they are putting you through a canned routine. Ask yourself "does this feel rehearsed?" I'm not saying there's anything necessarily wrong with a photographer using a routine for posing and whatnot. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. But if you feel like you're fitting into their style and not the other way around, you might not view the images as a real reflection of you.
So what's the best way to remedy a routine/canned/rehearsed photo shoot? Stop your photographer and start a conversation. Tell them a funny story about you. Open up a little bit. It might be just enough to help them realize that you're an actual person- both of you, two of a kind. And if you get your images and they still suck, just call me and we'll book something :)
Anyway, here is beautiful Karina and her dapper Jeremy.