Monday, October 13, 2008

Heather & Ben

Heather and Ben had a Phillycentric wedding a couple weeks ago. They started at the Westin in Center City then we walked around Old City with the bridal party getting honks and shouts of congrats from those doing typical Saturday things like taking the Duck Boat tours and sitting at sidewalk cafes. The ceremony was at the historic Christ Church. I'm not sure, but I'm gonna bet than Ben Franklin and other early attendees of this church never envisioned a Jewish chuppah as part of a wedding ceremony there. But the reality today of so many interfaith couples brings forth all sorts of new opportunities for all of us. Then the reception was held at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Elegant, fun and down to earth, just like the couple themselves. And Kendall at Eclatante Design ran a tight ship keeping everything stress free.

Slideshow (here)

Being a photojournalist, I've always been rather earnest about my approach to photography. I believe in capturing the true unaffected moment. I don't like thinking about how to alter my images after they're made. There's something that feels cheap and easy about needing a filter or some series of effects in order to make the picture gorgeous or stop people. Ultimately it's just about pushing buttons as opposed to capturing something real and in the moment. And when it is real and in the moment why mess it up by altering the reality you worked so hard to capture. Anyway, I just really love this first image of Heather. It's not notably altered in photoshop. It's toned lighter than I would most of my images but that's always a subjective task. To me she's a cross between Marilyn Monroe and a Roy Lichtenstein painting.

When I was in my first job at a small but very creative and influential group of newspapers outside of Chicago we were always trying to take our work further. Even on the most mundane of assignments we always worked for that National Geographic kind of image that blended artistry with storytelling. We didn't always get there but the process was fun. One photographer on staff did a story on the local donut shop. He spent time there every morning for a week or so documenting the regulars and the kids and all the various happenings in the shop. Our editor was working with him to elevate this to something special, just cause they could. He kept talking about the "yum" picture. The picture that summed up just how good those donuts were. The picture that allows you to taste the donuty goodness. The picture they chose was a little paper plate with a half eaten donut on it, crumbs all over. It really took you into that space of tasting the sugary goodness of a fresh baked donut. So, what the heck do donuts have to do with this wedding. Nothing really. But, one of my favorite pictures to look for at a wedding is the picture at the end of the night of one of the tables. It isn't always there but sometimes it is. The picture that somehow takes you to the feeling of having just been at a rockin' party with all the memories and stories floating in the air outside the frame.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I gotta be ME!

I think there's two schools of thought when it comes to running a creative business. You can create a product that will be safe and appeal to the widest range of people. As a result you'll likely get more volume and maybe have broader appeal. But if you have a vision, a style, a distinct way that you need to practice your craft then you take certain risks. You may not appeal to the widest range of consumers. The stronger your personality in your work the less likely you're going to appeal to "most" people. Kind of like regular old personal interaction. But if you stay true to your vision, your way of doing things, and find clients who connect with your style and your work then you're forever liberated to produce from your gut, and heart. I believe, this kind of work stands above the masses. It's distinct and full of something unexpected.

This is the way I've always worked as a photographer whether it was taking my first pictures of friends in college or during my days as a newspaper photojournalist or taking pictures of my new born son or at the weddings I document. As a newspaper photographer, more traditional folks -- those taught that newspaper pictures were supposed to look a certain way -- would ask me if I could take a "normal picture." As if my pictures were somehow not normal. They were always normal to me, I just didn't worry about "rules" and just worked from my point of view. I learned this lesson early in my career from one of the Zen masters of the newspaper photography world. While at a conference looking for my first job in 1995, Brian Moss succinctly taught me to be myself in my work and not worry about filling preconceived categories or holes. That message has been the guiding force in my career, good and bad. But I've been fortunate enough to work for people who also believe in and connect with what I bring to my photographs.

This clearly falls into the shameless category but when clients send messages like the following, I just can't help but want to shout it from the rooftops. It shows, to me, a perfect match of client and photographer. It's not unusual, :)))), for me to get messages like this but this one did such a great job of getting to the heart of what I hope to accomplish with my work.

The pictures are amazing. You truly captured the essence of our wedding. When we watch the slide show, the emotions start all over again. It was the most exciting, joyous, beautiful, and special day for us. Words that family and friends have used to describe our pictures are "Stunning!", "WOW!", " It (the slide show) made me cry!""You guys look like movie stars!" and "You both looked like you were having so much fun!" We love that people can get that from the photographs. Thank you for documenting our day!

Of course, I aim for this in every encounter. I work exactly the same way for each client. If I had a dream business goal this would sum it up for each and every encounter.

So that was one kind of reaction born from seeing the pictures soon after the wedding. But it's great to create final products where the images themselves aren't a surprise, most of the time you've been seeing these pictures for a year before an album is delivered. But when the album arrives, it's taken to another level.

I wanted to let you know that my family is flipping over the album. Words can't describe how happy Jason and I are and how amazed we are at the beauty of the finished product. We are grateful for your hard work and look forward to sharing it over and over again. Thanks again! It's gorgeous (and not because it's of us) haha.

And with that, it's Thank You very much to ALL of my clients and back to work!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Here's the story

In my last post I talked up this huge project by James Nachtwey and the TED foundation. Here it is.

As is no surprise the images are powerful, painful and important. Drug resistant TB is a growing global health crisis that I heard about several years ago when I worked on a local story about the increase of TB in Durham, NC when I was a newspaper photographer. I remember hearing about drug resistance to TB as an emerging issue then but it seems to have gotten to a point of being on the verge of a true global health crisis.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Big things

Odds are you are here because you're interested in wedding photography. In the posts below and on my website you'll find plenty on that subject. But I want to draw your attention to what should be a very exciting and no doubt powerful story that will be unveiled worldwide on October 3.

James Nachtwey
, the greatest photographer of human conflict ever, received a $100,000 prize from the TED foundation. With that money, Nachtwey has been working on an uncovered story that he believes needs to be known. If this man thinks I need to know about it, he's right. Very few people have witnessed the range and depth of humanity's greatness and the depth and depravity of just how dark and awful human nature can be. He has photographed every human conflict of global significance since documenting the "troubles" in Northern Ireland in the 1980s. He stands as the greatest testament to the simple yet powerful driving force of photojournalism: To Bear Witness. There's no doubt that this story is important and there's even less doubt that the images will be powerful and heart rending. I will prep you that these pictures may not be easy to look at. Not because they're gruesome, but because they will tear at your soul like so much of his work has done. You will likely not forget seeing these images.

You may have picked up that I've spent most of my career as a photojournalist. Not doing the kind of work that he does but focusing my work at newspapers in Michigan, New Mexico, Illinois and North Carolina. I took time away from that part of my career in launching the wedding business a few years ago to enjoy time with my wife, and now my newborn son. I have continued to do some work in photojournalism and will be increasing my efforts to more of that in the next year. But on October 3 you should take a minute and check this out, either in person or online.


All pictures posted on this blog are protected by U.S. copyright and are the property of Scott Lewis and can not be used without written permission.

About Me

I'm a veteran photojournalist with 20 years of experience telling stories with pictures.