by Douglas Gordon Published 01/04/2007
After over 17 years and photographing nearly 3,500 weddings it really hit me - as with anything in life, change is constant. Today's woman - today's bride - is different. She is more affluent, more sophisticated. Today's bride is more powerful, intelligent and, even more importantly, mature. The median age of brides over the years has risen dramatically. They are no longer twenty-somethings; it's now hip to be married after the age of 30 or even 40. No longer do parents escort the bride to photography consultations - heck, the groom only comes in 50% of the time. The lesson to be learned from this is simple. Today's bride is in charge and more importantly, she has a goal in mind. That goal is to be sexy. Yep, you read that right. SEXY. Brides no longer look angelic, nor do they want to. That's why every bride you see is wearing a sleeveless, strapless, form-fitting gown, no matter her height, weight, figure or even the time of year.The bottom line is, today's bride knows what she wants and it's NOT her mother's wedding photographer! She's more mature and more in touch with who she is as a woman. For her, it's not about looking sweet and innocent; it's about showing what she's got going on! In light of this trend, it is crucial to make a reciprocal adjustment to our thinking as photographers. Have you ever heard the saying, 'Sex Sells!'? I am here to tell you that maxim holds true for wedding photos, as well. I always hear brides say, "I don't want the cheesy poses; I want to look back at my wedding day and see passion between my husband and me. I want romance!" As she already knows, and as do we, everyday life takes over after marriage. We simply don't get a chance to exude the same spark, same passion, same energy as we do in the early years of a relationship. In light of that reality, my goal is to document that fleeting, but cherished passion, so richly felt on her wedding day. I do not, however, approach this as you might assume. In short, I am NOT a photojournalistic photographer. I am a portrait photographer, posing my images to look natural. I have chosen this approach to ensure photos that appear, at once, heartfelt and genuine, as well as utterly candid.
When you look back at your wedding 20 years later, when your body has changed and when, though still very much in love, your relationship has changed as well, what do you want to see? In revisiting that moment, people want to see their best selves. They want to remember the passion, the fun, the romance and, even more importantly in this image-conscious world, themselves at their most beautiful. In reality, of course, we know that conditions are not always ideal for pure photojournalism - times may be tight. The bride may be stressed. The weather might not co-operate. Any number of elements may converge to prevent a perfect photojournalistic shoot. Moreover, I feel it is important to show consistency and that, above all else, is why I pose things. As a natural photojournalist I couldn't guarantee consistent images at every wedding. What do I do when the wedding isn't exciting or romantic or the bride and groom spend most of the day greeting guests? They've seen the photos in my sample albums; they've seen the photos in their friends' (who recommended us) albums. How do I explain it to the bride and groom when they don't get any of the photos they expected. I can't say, "I'm sorry. Your wedding was terrible and boring..." Of course, I would love to say that, but we all know I can't. That's why I pose. My bride and groom remember their wedding through my eyes, my feelings, and my emotions, as I express it through my photos. Although today's bride is more sophisticated, she still wants a photographer she can trust and rely on. I firmly believe that, in the absence of real leadership, people will listen to whoever is talking - that is why I never shut up. I take full control of the wedding, so that I can make sure they don't miss a single moment of it. My philosophy is simple - take a chance and always be different, but also be able to deliver on that consistently. The rewards will far outweigh the cost of time and the labour involved in affecting change. I am alwaysshooting not only to please the couples I already have, but more importantly, to attract more clients and more attention to my studio.
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