Before the panel is judged by the Society of Wedding & Portrait Photographers (SWPP) organization in the United Kingdom, a fellowship applicant provides a statement.
Read aloud; it provides insight into the intent, mindset, and journey of the photographer and their unique vision. The most challenging evaluation process a professional photographer will undertake in their career, it also represents the most distinguished honor we can earn. This wedding panel passed unanimously.
It's not necessary for a wedding photographer to be married. Nor is it a requirement for one to have children. However, both experiences in my life impacted, shaped, and refined the prism through which I view the wedding day narrative and the direction I take to strive and capture it.
Herein lies a unique narrative opportunity to connect Present & Past generations to the Future through adding visual depth to that imagery. While the Bride & Groom may be the clients, they are also the custodians of their own love story.
My viewing prism has shifted a bit to look for ways I can intentionally start a conversation with the unborn. The birth of our daughter pushed it naturally forward, as my wife and I now find occasions to help her connect her place within our family. What are our values? What does love look like? Who loves her, and who will always care for her?
Not only should/must a wedding photographer exhibit the requisite skills in photography, but that person is most effective when transcending the ordinary time constraints of that day with grace and humility. We are both servants and leaders in a day full of hope and anticipation. Navigating the undercurrents of natural anxiety and different"family dynamics", we often find ourselves equal part artist, diplomat and armchair psychologist.
In my beginning efforts, I would often “Hope” that things would magically coalesce in front of the camera. I learned, however, through the crucible of experience and education how to anticipate and be more thoughtful. I learned when to know when to provide guidance and when to step back similar to how empathy, flexibility, and the ability to clearly communicate are critical to compelling storytelling. In-camera artistry thus became a mechanism to use to quickly “build trust” with others and allow for new, different and additional possibilities to create.
Like many regional communities, weddings in the Southern part of the United States come with its individual set of personality and expectations. Beginning with Engagement and Bridal Portrait Sessions, I find I must push further into the realms of creativity and trademark artwork. That time I invest then pays dividends in the intimacy afforded in my work on the actual wedding day.
Even in the smallest details, there is an ability to communicate the sanctity of marriage across generations. You can capture the beauty of thoughtful preparations, tender moments, and legacy portraits and illustrate both individual and group values.
The emotional spectrum is often quite visible and even unpredictable. A Father’s love may bring tears, there is a first look of anticipation, and there is joy in community, relationships, and the celebrations.
The spectrum of personalities, faiths, and traditions also dictates that a wedding photographer becomes well-versed not only in shooting the expected but delivering the unexpected. It is through the visual power of imagery that we can communicate with the camera what we often cannot express through words.
While this panel represents real people and stories, its legacy resides in the impact each image makes within its respective families.
Charlotte Moss reporting for the industry magazine Professional Imagemaker was in attendance said in the February - March 2016 Issue 82 on page 35.
"I know that I am lucky because I get unprecedented access to what goes on behind the scenes at judging, but I genuinely believe that anyone looking to improve both the quality and creativity of their work could benefit from a day looking at the qualification panels and prints that are passing in front of the eyes of judges. Exposing yourself to a wide range of work is never a bad thing, but so much of our 'viewing' is now done on computer screens that it's good to take a step back, slow down, and get up close and personal with some prints.
Printing is a skill that often isn't easy to learn if you're teaching yourself. How do you know what makes a good print if you have nothing to compare it to? Photographers don't intrinsically understand what makes a good print, they have to learn through exposure and experience - and while the internet brings the most incredible access to work from photographers around the world, it doesn't allow us to compare our work to other in print form. Before I started spending time sitting in on the judging panels I understood from reading books and watching YouTube what some basic printing challenges might be - but I have always struggled to identify them in my own work (and I don't get enough of my own work printed either, but that's another story and another problem.) Self-criticism can be the hardest skill to learn, and the most difficult to master, so being able to directly compare your work to others that you know have achieved a certain standard is a real boon.
Meeting David Edmonson & Luke Edmonson was one of the highlights of my convention. Over from the U.S., they brought their own brand of fine artwork to both the qualifications and competition. As well as both passing their Fellowship panels and judging many other panels, David was the overall winner of the 20x16 Competition, with a remarkable perfect score of 100! The judges commented that the craftsmanship in David's work was remarkable, and they were humbled by the stories told. Luke's wedding Fellowship also received a unanimous pass from the five judges, with one adding that was difficult to find any criticism of the work at all."
I love being a wedding photographer! How you knit together a story line and mix the different threads of personalities, relationships, and love on that day is an important theme.
Through photography, I can eliminate the extraneous elements and get to the core of the message through lighting, posing, recognition, perspective, or just intention. It is the experience that has taught me when to use more of my voice and influence and when less is more. By capturing your values, legacy, and your admiration for your spouse and others, I'm doing something of value with my time and my talent.
There is nothing better than a great love story told well.
Photographer Luke Edmonson - F-SWPP UK
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