Although photography has been a passion present in my life since middle school, wedding photography has not been a part of my vocabulary until I started with Kira Nicole Photography a couple years ago. And even if I had been doing wedding photography for many more years, I don’t think I could ever say I’m an expert on grooms because at the end of the day… I’m not a guy. So for this post, I decided to recruit an expert: a groom himself!
I’ll be honest in saying that this blog series was actually inspired by a conversation that I had with this friend at an organizational event. He had recently gotten married and knew that I shot weddings and pulled me aside to give me a little advice on considering the groom during engagement sessions and the wedding day. What was probably supposed to be a 2 minute conversation turned into around half an hour.
12 Groom Tidbits to Wedding Photographers
I really appreciated his honest perspective because some of the stuff he was saying were not things that I was considering. I even spent a good chunk of time relaying his feedback to Kira to talk about how we could approach shooting our own grooms. I’m going to leave his name anonymous for the sake of his photographer, but I e-mailed this man for a little Q & A on the subject to share with you all. Here are his 12 tidbits to wedding photographers:
Q: How involved would you say you were in the wedding planning process?
A: I was somewhat involved in the planning process. I knew what was going on, but my wife had more of a vision for the wedding than I did so she planned most of it with family and friends. It’s something they enjoyed doing and all that mattered to me was that she was my wife at the end… so I was more of a support.
Q: What were some of your initial thoughts about how wedding photography is done today?
A: I think wedding photography today is something that is good in that it is great to have pictures to remember the day, especially because photography is so advanced now. I do believe however that due to social media and exposure of pictures, there is a tremendous amount of pressure and stock put into pictures. Maybe too much. (And this is coming from someone who really enjoys photography.)
Q: Were you excited or indifferent going into your engagement session?
A: I was excited for my wife, but pretty indifferent. I had an open mind though and thought it could be fun. Honestly, I think the engagement session is just a way for the photographer to make more money and it has become so popular that people feel like they have to have one. My wife was talking to a friend recently about the pressure she feels to have an engagement session because all of her friends are doing it. It is expected at this point. (It’s a little silly to me. The engagement session doesn’t happen on the day of engagement and has nothing to do with the wedding expect for 1 or 2 shots of the ring. It’s essentially just nicer pictures than the couple has ever posted on Facebook.)
Q: How did you feel during your engagement session?
A: I FELT AWKWARD. The shots were not in private places so people were constantly driving by us honking their horn and yelling all because the photographer thought the flowers next to the main road looked cool. Just a little weird. It wasn’t about the time my wife and I got together with the photographer, it was about how good they could make the shot. I also felt a little emasculated at some of the poses the photographer had us doing.
Q: What did you think about the different poses your photographer used?
A: Some of the poses were really good! They showed us having fun and enjoying each other which personally I love. It represents our relationship. The rest of the poses made me feel very weird. I did things with my wife that I’ve never done through the entirety of our relationship. We were able to make it fun, but some of the poses were just awkward.
Q: How did you think the poses made you look?
A: Many of the poses made us look great! However some made us both look weird. But personally, I felt emasculated in some ways. The focus was too much on her. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about making the bride (fiancé in this case) look awesome, but this relationship is a two-way street. In my opinion, many of these poses made me look like I was a whipped man ready for every beck and call of my fiancé, instead of a strong leader of my future family. Maybe I’m thinking too much about this, but maybe there is a way to make the man look masculine and the woman look feminine and convey love without having the man staring at the girl in every picture. I mean some of the poses showed half of my face or the back of my head… really strange.
Q: Who would you perceive was the focus of the photos and why?
A: My wife was the focus. Not sure why. I have a couple guesses. One guess is that it was a female photographer so naturally she shoots from the mind of a woman who would see themselves in the pictures. Another guess might be that many relationships are broken and they become focused on the woman and how to please her. It’s not totally wrong, just not an accurate way to describe a healthy relationship. I think that view of relationships naturally comes out if that is how the photographer views relationships. The photographer shoots love the way that they see love (or at least how they think love should be shown through a photo.) Maybe even more simple of a reason could be that these pictures are usually mainly “for” the girl to have and look at and show her friends.
Q: Where would you have wanted the focus to be?
A: On both of us equally. Or more specifically, on the relationship as healthy and strong. On the trust of both parties in each other. On the qualities of “true love” (trust, service, honesty, joy, encouragement, forgiveness, romance) and not just on romance and how close they can hold each other. I’m not a trained photographer so I don’t know how to do that, but I’m sure there is a way.
Q: Looking back at your engagement and wedding photos, what did you think of the images?
A: Great! They looked great (except for the ones where you only see 20% of my face. Just being honest). Personally I like the wedding photos more than the engagement ones.
Q: Was there anything that you would have liked to have had captured during your engagement session or wedding that wasn’t?
A: One thing that I would have liked is if we had more pictures of us with friends at our wedding, not just the wedding party. We invited so many people to then get no pictures with except for a couple weird action shots on the dance floor. Maybe the photographer could ask for permission to pull the bride and groom aside when they see them talking with people at the reception and take a quick picture with people actually looking at the camera and smiling.
Q: How did you think you were portrayed in the photos?
A: I was portrayed great in our wedding photos. My wife looked even better.
Q: If you had one piece of advice for wedding photographers going forward in regards to the groom, what would it be?
A: Make the groom look like a man, not a puppy. Make him look like a leader, a future father, etc. Ask the groom how he thinks he is being portrayed during the shoot. Don’t just use your 10 “go to” poses over and over in different locations. Let the man “lead” a couple of the photos. Ask the girl a few things that the groom “always does” when they are together and shoot… it may be the most natural.
My final piece of advice: Taking a picture of a couple standing 5 feet apart in the middle of a field barely holding hands and not smiling does not show love. Cut it out, hipsters (see attached photo). Also, don’t do wedding photos like the other picture attached. It’s their freaking wedding day! …Why aren’t they smiling?!
I personally took away a lot from my conversation with him, especially when considering how to capture the groom and accurately portray their relationship. In the end, as photographers we should be trying to convey the couple’s love for each other genuinely and not just posing them for a pretty picture. Hopefully this interview helped you see a different side to wedding photography that you may not have seen before. This concludes our Wedding Photography Groomsmen Mini-Series sadly :/ Please comment thoughts or questions below!