Interviewing Photographers: Why “How” Doesn’t Matter in Choosing a Wedding Photographer

08 | 12 | 2011

I get asked pretty much the same questions by each new couple I meet.¹  One of those questions is being asked with increasing urgency and is about how I work (and by this I mean how I work mechanically—with my camera gear, not relationally—how I work with people).  People want to know if I shoot film or digital and what cameras and lenses I carry around with me and how and when I choose to shoot what I shoot.

I.  Beware the Marketing Plugs

The curiosity about how I work doesn’t bother me.  I’d be curious, too—and not just because all the camera-gadgets are so fascinating.  It’s that it sometimes is asked of me—and all my fellow professional photographers—with judgmental weight behind it.  There’s information swirling all over the web about what folks think is the “best” way to go at making photographs.  And not surprisingly, everybody says “hooray” for his or her own way of doing things. (Translation: beware the marketing plugs).  There are lots of best ways of doing things.

II. It’s The Artist Not The Medium That Matters

What worries me is that couples might discount working with a digital photographer whose images they really admire and whose style they really love because they think they’re supposed to like a film photographer better.  Or vice versa.  There are great photographers making great images with all sorts of cameras, regardless of brand or medium, with fancy-schmantzy lenses and with plastic toy lenses … or even with no lenses at all.  And that’s why I don’t talk about cameras or lenses or image capture very much around here on the blog, as much as I can help it.²  This is an exciting time to be a photographer, and we have more choices about how to make an image than ever before.

But—and this is important—we photographers make the images we make because of how—and what—we choose to see.  The camera is, and always will be, no matter how many bells and whistles it may tout in its limitless incarnations, a box with a hole in it.  Whatever medium we use (film, digital), it’s just a medium.  It’s the artist and his or her own very personal vision that matters.*

III. Go With What You LOVE

What you want to find is work that really connect with.  Keep in mind that WYSIWYG, for the most part. There are certainly limitations to an online portfolio site, but once you’ve seen enough of a photographer’s work, on- and off-line, to feel like you “get” it, you probably do.  And then: go with your gut.  Don’t get caught up in the trappings …

photo: Gia Canali

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¹ When I first started this blog, I talked a little bit about interviewing photographers {here} and, in a way, also {here}.
² Except, of course, for the very occasional mournful salute to discontinued film stocks.  And sometimes I can’t keep my mouth shut when I’m excited about a new camera.  But I do try.
³ This is a good reminder for us photographers, too, who are kind of gear-junkies and always, always want at least one more new camera to play with.
*Of  course, “how” I work does in fact matter, in a “big picture” sort of way.  I believe in my process; I am constantly refining it.  I want to give folks the best art and the best products and the best service I possibly can.  But the way I do things most certainly isn’t the only “best” way to do things.  And I don’t think how I do things (how I make my images) actually matters in evaluating my portfolio or any other professional photographer’s either.  It’s how that work hits you in the heart that counts.
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4 Notes on “Interviewing Photographers: Why “How” Doesn’t Matter in Choosing a Wedding Photographer

  1. Carrie Roseman

    Gia,
    I couldn’t agree more…the camera is simply the tool that captures what the mind’s eye sees…I have a variety of cameras, film and digital, and which one I pick up depends on my mood. And then I use it to make photographs of how I am seeing and interpreting these moments…and that’s where individual talent and style come into play…
    Thank you for not only sharing your incredible art, but also for being insightful and smart about how you share your knowledge to the masses.
    Much respect 🙂
    ~C

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    this is really true. i hate it when people compare photographers through the equipments they carry. it’s always about the composition or how the picture tells a story where i base the photographers potential

  3. Pingback: Supporting the Renaissance of Film | Pursuing the Picture Perfect Wedding :: a blog about weddings and getting great wedding photographs by Gia Canali

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