Monday, April 20, 2009

Too much is too much

Kenneth Jarecke wrote a great post on his blog about the value of authentic imagery. He's a pure photojournalist but what he says in his post has a lot of value for work in the field of wedding photography as well.

The essential point he makes is

Photography and specifically photojournalism is a language. When you de-saturate, or burn, or vignette, too much (and this is the key, all of these are legitimate tools up to a point), you've destroyed the dialog with the viewer. You've twisted the common lexicon so much that it no longer has any meaning.

The idea that pictures can't be strong enough on their own and needs stuff done in order to hold our attention is rooted in a lot of insecurity. Either the photographer themselves relies on post-processing to make the image have impact or a designer doesn't feel that they're doing enough in their contribution if they don't change or affect or alter or "dress" an image in some dramatic way. The best pictures affect us on an emotional level. They allow us to linger and contemplate the moment or beauty, or hopefully, the two together that are captured in a single, still frame.

How does this apply to wedding photography? Surely all folks looking at having a wedding photographer at their wedding wants images that show them at their absolute best. Photojournalism, in it's purest sense, isn't so concerned about being flattering as much as it is about the truth of a situation – good, bad, indifferent. But when it comes to your wedding and the photographs, I believe it's important to concentrate on what's most valuable here and that's telling the story of two people and their most important inner circle of family and friends on the happiest day of their lives. The wedding album is an intimate family document that tells us a bit about who we are at our best and who stood their next to us as we made a sacred vow.

For some, I guess, it's about glamour and fashion but I like the comforts, truth and certainty of the real world and all that comes with it. To me, those images of real love, real happiness leap head and shoulders over all the technical whiz bang of those who rely on digital "magic" to boost a mediocre image into the sphere of "cool" but that often leave the viewer cold and left knowing little about the subject of the picture. In the end, it's not so much magic but just pressing a few buttons on the keyboard.

Frankly, capturing reality ain't so easy. Anyone can stand there and snap an image of what's in front of them and show what it is that a camera does. But to interpret a scene, handle the fast moving action and technically challenging environment and create a true piece of art, a document embued with a vision and takes your breath away, takes a connection to the heart of photographer and subject.

More from Jarecke....

It's the flaws, the capturing of reality that make a picture great. No, I'm not saying you have to act like you're recording a crime scene, and I'm not saying you shouldn't decide how to interpret the color of a scene, or the contrast, or even what needs to be burned down a bit, but I am saying you've got to know when you've crossed the line.

When you cross that line, you've destroyed your ability to communicate with your audience. That's the bottom line. If you can't show people what you've seen in a truthful way, if you don't have that credibility, why pick up a camera in the first place?

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About Me

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