Years ago when I started photographing weddings, I knew I wanted to do something different from what I had seen at so many weddings. I didn’t want to do those overly posed photos. You know the ones - the people in the photograph look a little uncomfortable and the smiles on their faces look slightly forced as they stare at something mysterious just off to the side of the camera. I wanted to capture genuine smiles, genuine moments and not only tell a story, but create a photograph that would always evoke a special memory of what was happening in that precise moment when the photograph was taken and how they felt on their wedding day. This desire has resulted in a very personal style of photography that I’ve developed over time which resonates with my clients who want that authenticity and joy reflected in their photos.
Every photographer I know has their own individual style that they have developed over the years. Their style comes through the photographs that they take on the wedding day similar to the way a painter’s brushstrokes and style can be identified throughout their paintings. I’ve attended photography workshops where 10 photographers learning the same thing will take photographs of the same subject in the same lighting from the same spot. Each of those resulting photographs will look very different based on several factors influenced by each photographer’s individual style and artistic interpretation of the scene set before them.
This brings me to Pinterest. You may be wondering what this has to do with Pinterest. But bear with me…
Pinterest is a fabulous tool for curating ideas in one spot from all those amazing photographs we come across online. I personally have an incredible amount of pictures saved for inspiration on everything from my dream home to recipes that I probably will never make. Pinterest is a fabulous way to put together style boards for inspiration. I’ve had great fun with clients who have gotten an idea from Pinterest for a photo or theme during a session. We have fun with it and put our own twist on it while staying true to our photography style and keeping with the spirit of the idea.
There is another side to Pinterest, however, that has become an increasing trend within the wedding industry. I have had many a conversation with photographers, videographers and even wedding planners who have received pages upon pages of Pinterest images that their clients want replicated on the wedding day. The photos that they are presented with are curated from numerous different photography styles and venues that are often quite different from their own. And often these photos are things that cannot be captured due to the difference in venue, lighting, location, time of day and so on. And there are even photographs requested to be copied that would not be flattering to the couple due to differing body types. Ultimately, it creates an impossible situation where the vendors cannot do their best work on the most important day of their client’s life. Although they try, the result is often an unhappy couple and vendor.
You don’t want to spend your wedding day trying to capture someone else’s day. Remember that you selected your vendors based on their style and experience. You wouldn’t ask Picasso to paint you a Monet, nor would you ask Lebron James to perform the lead in Swan Lake. You want your day to be authentic and your own memories to be reflected in the photos and video captured on the most important day of your life. You want your vendors to do their best work and not try to replicate a style that isn’t their own. Let Picasso paint like Picasso, and let Lebron play basketball. You don’t want the story behind each photo to be “It looked good on Pinterest…” while missing the genuine moments that are happening around you. Use Pinterest as that inspiration board, but enjoy your day and let your authentic moments be an inspiration for the next bride.
Whether they're your something blue, or new, wedding day shoes can be the biggest frenemy of both bride and bridesmaids alike on the big day. They're oh so pretty, but can get oh so uncomfortable very quickly. When our feet hurt - we are just generally miserable, and it shows (especially in the pictures). I've seen many brides barely make it to the end of the ceremony before having to change their shoes.
I want to just throw out a few tiny pieces of advice about shoes on your wedding day. I am in no way an expert on the subject, but, after 10 years photographing weddings (and a hemline mishap at my own wedding), I've observed quite a few things when it comes to shoe choices on the wedding day. My first piece of advice is to watch the hemline on your gown when you are getting fitted. It's not enough just to wear your heels when you are being fitted - you should make sure that you can walk without catching the front of your toe on the hem of your dress. Some seamstresses will advise hemming the front edge of your gown just a little higher so that you don't trip when you take that first step down the aisle. Be sure to talk with whomever is taking care of your alterations and get their input on how you can make sure your first step down the aisle is picture perfect. And remember - if you lose any weight between your last fitting and your wedding day (as many brides do), your hemline may end up a bit lower than you planned. I personally did not take this into account on my wedding day, and I ended up carrying a fistful of my dress along with my bouquet down the aisle to keep from tripping a second time - yikes!! If only I'd had 10 years of wedding experience 14 years ago...
When you are selecting your shoes you should of course consider comfort, but also keep in mind where you are planning to have your pictures taken on your wedding day. If you envision yourself in a field, on the 9th hole of a picturesque golf course, or any other generally grassy or woodsy area, keep in mind that heels, even kitten heels, will sink into the grass. And it can get very uncomfortable trying to balance on the balls of your feet during picture time. Consider selecting a wedge heel if you are planning pictures in a location where you may have to walk on grass. Even if you have practiced walking on grass in heels, you never know how much rain the grass may have gotten leading up to your wedding day. And most golf courses frown upon heels on the greens. If you must have those to-die-for stiletto heels, or those drool worthy Manolo's that I am personally in love with, consider wearing wedges of an equal height just for the time you'll be on the grass. I have to add that it is super important to make sure your back up shoes are the same height as the shoes you were fitted in so that your gown does not drag and so you do not trip. A fun personal favorite wedge of mine that is super tall and comfortable is Stuart Weitzman's Corkswoon in Nice Blue Suede .
It seems like it goes without saying, but practice practice practice wearing those shoes. Walk in them, a lot, and make sure they are comfortable. Your wedding day is not the ideal time to break in a new pair of shoes. Until you are wearing them for a while you really won't have a good idea of how they will feel on your wedding day or what inserts will help provide the most comfort. During the wedding day your feet are going to sweat and, yes ladies, they will probably swell just a bit too. Not the prettiest picture - but true. You want to make sure your shoes aren't going to give you blisters or rub your feet raw. You don't want to have to sit on the sidelines during the dancing at your reception - and you really don't want to spend your honeymoon lamenting your sore feet.
My last piece of advice? Have fun with it! Don't be afraid to add a pop of color or a fun pattern on your shoes. Let your personality and style really shine through!
In the past several years many of my past brides have come back for family and newborn portraits. It's so much fun watching their families grow!! One of my past brides reached out to me this winter regarding photos she needed for a new endeavor she was undertaking. She was in the process of starting a blog and a company with the sole purpose of giving back. Of course I was on board! Not only was I excited to see her family again, but looking forward to collaborating on the concepts she expressed. Her company Free From Head To Toe and her blog are inspiring. We headed to downtown Akron to get some portraits for her site. As this winter has gone, it was extremely cold - but they all hung in there! I couldn't believe how much older (and taller) her girls were. Somehow you expect time to freeze when you don't see people for a couple of years. But time goes on. I love the wonderful images we captured that day!!
I am so excited to finally launch our new site and new blog! It has been ages since I have blogged and it's about time I got back to it! Somehow while running a business, and chasing after two rapidly growing boys, blogging totally got away from me. But I love the look of my new site, as well as the fact that it is now mobile friendly. And I have tons of new images uploaded in the galleries to share! I've gone from primarily focusing on weddings, to tons of exciting new things including commercial photography, corporate, family, baby and senior portraits over the past few years.
One of the steps in creating my new site and blog was actually getting a updated picture of myself for my "About" page - which I was not looking forward to. I'm completely comfortable behind the camera, but in front of the camera - I am the worst. In my head I'm thinking of every tidbit of advice I give my clients, and then critiquing how the person taking my picture is holding the camera. Do I like the angle they are using? How close are they zoomed in? Did I blink? Wouldn't a different lens be better? Is my hair ok? Should I have worn something different? The result is a lot of pictures where I look very concerned and grumpy. In this case my husband was the unlucky one taking the picture. But thanks to a lot of patience, and my children's successful attempts at making me laugh, we got a few acceptable photographs where I did not look like I was trying to solve a world crisis.
© Catherine McKinley Photography