I am passionate about my clients being totally involved in the creative process and having a say in how they are photographed and portrayed through the lens. A lot of people ask me about this approach to photography and why I insist on it being such a collaborative and inclusive event. To best explain my ethos, I use the following analogy of going to the hairdressers and asking for a specific cut and how it feels when you don't get quite what you are after.
We’ve all had that experience at the hairdressers when we describe the style we are after (maybe even show a photo) and the stylist nods and appears to be taking your request on board. However, halfway through the session you suddenly realise you’re not getting the cut you have asked for and it seems that your stylist hasn't actually listened to you at all and is cutting your hair according to their own opinion of how they think you should look. However, you don’t feel you can speak up at this point as they are the expert and therefore they must know what they are doing. At the end of the session – when shown the back of the cut and asked for feedback – you smile politely and say how lovely it is but walk out of the salon feeling anything but yourself; annoyed at yourself for not speaking up and self-conscious that your hair is wearing you and not vice versa.
This happens all the time with photography too – you leave everything in the hands of the experts as they know far more than you do about all things camera-related. However, they don’t know you. You are the expert on yourself, your values, and how you want to celebrate the love that you have for your partner and / or your family. A bad haircut grows out after 4-5 awkward weeks; photographs (especially in today's social media-driven world) last a whole lot longer. However stylish and technically awesome your photos are, if you don't see the real you in the images, you are always going to feel a little less than satisfied.
I know full well what it is like to not be listened to – for people to make assumptions or believe they know what will suit me best. I also know what it is like to not have the confidence at times to always say what you feel. Therefore, I believe that as a photographer, it is my duty to not only photograph you creatively, in a stress-free and fun-filled manner, but to ensure that throughout the process you feel relaxed and comfortable in your own skin so that the resulting images are a true reflection of you as you see yourself.
My advice is to always choose a photographer who values your comfort as much as their own creativity and never be afraid to speak up during a shoot if you feel uncomfortable with what you are being asked to do. Communication is key to a successful photoshoot and whilst photography is often said to be all abut "seeing"; a great photographer listens before they look.
So there you have it...hopefully what you thought of as a random comparison 5 minutes ago now makes a lot more sense. Always remember that you have a voice and a say in how others make you feel.
This blog post is adapted from my forthcoming book "How to have a wedding that's as individual as you are" - published early 2018.