There is a photographer I have taken a great interest in on Youtube. Subsequently, I am also part of his Facebook group but that is neither here nor there. He is not backwards in coming forwards, as they say. He tells it like it is. Recently he posted a bit of a discussion video about doing a course to learn wedding photography or whether he should get the hands-on experience in the industry itself and be a second shooter at real weddings.
Again, the topic of the video is really neither here nor there either.
It was one of the commenters that made me pause.
“My question is… Has this ever happened to you a JD how do you handle this type of situation. Would you refuse to shoot a wedding I you thought the bride was too LARGE or too UGLY.?” [sic]
Oh, and then this one on the same video by the same person:
“I got to shoot a wedding and the bride was enormous and fairly UGLY it was extremely hard to get her to pose or even smile and all my photos of her were taken using the best I could get. While I was post processing the photos I thought OMG these photos suck not flattering and the bride looked uncomfortable in every shot. Honestly her dress was way too tight for such a big girl. Turned out the family and the bride loved the photos. They said that I made her look beautiful.. Phew! I was relieved.” [sic]
Well, that was lucky, wasn’t it?!
Here’s a little back story as to why this comment upset me as much as it did.
We hired a particular photographer for our wedding. Deposit was made, we were happy with our choice. But then I found out that another photographer that I had admired for several years also did weddings.
OH. MY. GOD.
I told the manbeast and he had his own fanboi moment too. We weighed up the cost of cancelling with the guy that we’d already booked and going with our photography idol… It was a no-brainer. The idol won and we wrote off the $700 we’d already paid to the first photographer.
All was good.
The Big Day came and went. Our photographer was pretty cool. He was funny, charming and charismatic. He always was and that’s why we hired him! (Though he was a pretty crack shot with the camera too!) [Pick your deity] knew that I sure as fuck did not need the added pressure of an unknown all up in my face with a camera. The laughs were appreciated and really, really helped me get through the start of the afternoon.
But then, after the wedding… nothing.
Nothing for months.
Not one photograph.
I was worried. What was wrong? Was this normal? I’d never been married before, never dealt with the issue of how long wedding photography took to process. I had wondered, in the many months it took to get my wedding photos back from the photographer, what the problem was. Particularly as he had been releasing photographs from other weddings he had shot since mine.
I realised what it was when I saw them.
It was me. It was us. The Bride and Groom. The manbeast is distinctly average-looking and I am not overly gorgeous myself. Particularly back then when I was significantly heavier.
I was not one of his model brides. I was not a beautiful woman in a couture gown in an expensive or gorgeously picturesque location. Few of the photographs were flattering. Most were barely acceptable. A lot were only wedding-text-book passable. There was one that made me cry – he’d tried to thin me out. Tried and ultimately failed. Everyone who has seen that picture has noted it. It makes them as uncomfortable as much as it brought me to tears.
Now, I know I am not ugly. I’m not a model but I know that I can look presentable and even really good on occasion. I’d like to think that on my wedding day, as uncomfortable as I felt, I looked ok. And I thought that this guy who’d been in the industry for so long and taken pictures of so many people would know how to make me look just a bit better than just ok.
Obviously that wasn’t the case and we’ll leave the matter to rest there.
If he was wondering why he never got a testimonial from us, that’s why. (Um, surprise! I know that people he knows sometimes read my blog.)
But doesn’t every woman, fat or thin, gorgeous or plain, deserve to feel like a fucking superstar on what is supposed to be a major day in their life?
My point is; no one should have to feel like they missed out on getting some wonderful images of themselves because they were somehow lacking. Everyone deserves memories to be captured in a beautiful way. Every bride deserves to feel gorgeous and happy when they look at their photographs.
As a photographer, you need to put in the work to make sure you’re delivering the best of EVERYONE, not just the pretty ones. That’s why I am so into the boudoir niche. Fat or thin, classically beautiful or alternatively striking, everyone can look gorgeous.
My reply to that comment was this:
“Just a little professional advice – learn to work with larger “ugly” girls. Take it from someone who knows (I was huge on the day of my wedding), a larger or “ugly” bride already feels like shit and is extremely vulnerable on her wedding day. She KNOWS she’s not a model, ok? Being the centre of attention is hard for us. As a wedding photographer it is YOUR JOB to find and make the pics work and make her comfortable. If you only want to take pictures of pretty girls, you picked the wrong niche.”