Today’s post is by Shelley of Shelley Elena Photography, our wedding photographer! She kindly agreed to write a little bit about her job. Scroll down to see her gorgeous photos and read her story.
I am so honored that Jen invited me to share on her blog! Annnnddd a little intimidated. Since graduating college, I’ve pretty much only written my own blog posts and emails (many, many emails). I’ve read quite a few blogs from other photographers and as I tried to think of a topic, I struggled to find something that hadn’t been covered already by one of the millions of other wedding photographers. How to choose a photographer? That horse is long dead and beaten. Having an unplugged wedding? Trended last week. The importance of choosing a good photographer? Written many times by people much more eloquent than myself. So, y’all just get what’s been on my heart lately! First, a little about why I can’t wait to shoot Jen & John’s wedding, then the random musings of a wedding photographer in middle the busy season!
One of the reasons I was thrilled that Jen hired me is because she treasures good photography and makes me feel so honored because of that. Every time a couple hires me to shoot their wedding, it truly is an honor, but it makes a huge difference when I know that they value what I do. Because Jen is excited for me to be there, I want to show up to their wedding and work my tail off to create photos that bring tears to her eyes next year and her grandchildren’s eyes in 40 years. There are so many amazing photographers in Austin and I get to be there to capture their day filled with every type of emotion, surrounded by the people who made them who they are, as they declare their decision to choose to love one another for the rest of their lives. Pretty cool, especially considering that there are literally 757 other wedding photographers listed for the Austin area on The Knot.
Fun fact- Jeff Bridges is also a photographer. See why this job is so hard? How can I compete against Jeff Bridges? I don’t think he does weddings in Austin, though, so I only have to compete against non-award-winning-actor photographers. He wrote this about the late Mary Ellen Mark, an American photojournalist:
“She had a big heart, and opened it to her subjects. Her desire to understand them was palpable. Her empathy can be seen in her images, the folks there encouraged to be true to themselves. Her friendliness was felt by other photographers who she also encouraged. I was lucky to be one of them. It’s impossible to separate a photographer’s spirit, skill, and point of view from their images. Mary Ellen shows us hers in her brilliant, unique, photographs.”
That stuck with me for days, thinking about the fact that my perspective and heart will be indelibly imprinted on every photo I take. One of the foundations of my business is always putting clients first, but it’s easy to slip into the mindset that I’m creating images for myself, for my portfolio. In the fast paced world of social media and instant gratification, photographers need new content constantly and clients are easy fodder for new Instagram posts showing how you are so busy, talented, #blessed, etc. Every fiber of my being rebels against the idea of being someone who views clients as props for my business. I VALUE people, dangit! Nevertheless, the struggle is real and I need reminders from Jeff Bridges that to be a great photographer, I must have an open heart and and empathy. Only then can I create photos that truly bring joy to brides and grooms and the people who love them.
Brides and grooms: You are not an accessory to your wedding photos. You are what makes photos magical. The fact that you’re choosing commit your life to each other is amazing! Don’t forget that! Have enough fun at your wedding to forget to look perfect, and hug people without worrying too much about your hair. Don’t let anyone tell you what your wedding has to be like (as I’m telling you what to do…), but make it exactly the kind of celebration you want! Value your wedding photographer not because they’ll make pretty photos to get lots of likes, but because they will make art with your love.
You can find Shelley on her website here, or keep up with her on Instagram or Facebook for more beautiful photos.