DEVELOPING A PHOTOGRAPHIC AESTHETIC
While art may very well be subjective, the cornerstone of any fine art discipline is the means by which an artist formulates and communicates his defining aesthetic. We tend to be familiar with movements in painting like romanticism and cubism, but photography hasn’t experienced the same kind of categorical scrutiny despite falling under the scope of fine art. In the 20th century, as photography grew into prominence, photographers, artist, and art curators debated as to whether the medium was worthy of the designation. While pictorialism and pure photography began the journey of finding nuance, the notion seems to have been abandoned as cameras became household objects.
Personally, I believe there is genuine value in continuing this discourse in the broader photographic community to allow for the categorical distinguishing of styles as well as to educate discerning audiences. In my journey to such an end, my decade-long experience has led me to a three-pronged approach to assessing a photographic aesthetic, specifically when it comes to weddings. As I walk through each of these, it’ll become more evident why this is the case. I use my own process in creating the body of work I have to break down each of these components in the hopes of reviving the conversation on photographic aesthetics.
Every artistic endeavor requires the personal involvement of the artist with the subject in his creation. In Greek mythology, creativity began with the evoking of the muses. While the number and roles of these muses changed over time, the original three were: Aoide, Melete, and Mneme. There is much to be gleaned from these mythological figures. My takeaway has come from the roles these muses were associated with, channeling whom leads me to set a romantic and feminine mood in the created photographs.
Aoide is the muse of song. Common to both poetry and song is the element of rhythm. In my years of photographing weddings, I’ve found that each couple moves to a rhythm as unique as their own love. Before I ever take a photo, I begin with identifying that rhythm and synchronizing my own pace to theirs.
Melete is the muse of occasion. Your wedding day is that euphoric moment in time when the tangible communes with the ethereal, when the ephemeral and the eternal become inextricably intertwined. It’s the most beautiful kind of daydreaming–the kind where your loved ones get to experience it with you. With all the intricacies involved, I anchor myself to the unfolding romance, and capture every perfectly imagined detail and delight the day brings.
Mneme is the muse of memory. What each couple reflects on for decades–and future generations beyond that–are the moments that crest and crescendo between the ebb and flow of the most grandiose of days. As a romantic myself, I channel the majesty of love that shines through in laughter and in tears, in joy and in sorrow, in restraint and in indulgence.
There are multiple schools of thought when it comes to the photographer’s presence and conduct. The two that are contextually sound to wedding photography are documentarian and directorial. The documenter focuses on the natural unfolding of events on the wedding day. He’s the fly on the wall who doesn’t step in to change the rhythm or pace so that he may capture the day in its purest form. The director, on the other hand, creates the scenes he wishes to capture, often manufacturing moments for the sake of the story. For me, neither approach works exclusively to create the images that truly reflect the love my couples are celebrating. I find the balance between documentarian and director, disappearing from prominence when emotions are unfolding and stepping in as director when I need to. For example, I love creating tableaus when photographing the bridal party, and so I direct everyone into position, then create the space for natural interaction. It allows me to expedite the process for my couples while making sure the day is about them, not me.
Another component to the creation process is the means and methodology of the photographing itself. There’s a wide array of topics to this under this umbrella, but to keep this concise, I’ll address a couple things important to my personal aesthetic that work together in capturing images that are stylish and elegant.
I tend to photograph from a low angle. Part of this is because I’m 6’1 and I don’t want to make my couples look small by shooting downwards, but more importantly, I capture my subjects the way I see them: larger than life. The potential I see in every individual is what guides my photography. As an eternal optimist, I genuinely see and believe the best in everyone I meet, and that’s how I wish to photograph them.
Because of how I use color in my photography, my preferred format is digital. It allows for the best preservation of highlights and shadows, while also capturing color very accurately. This gives me incredible flexibility for my transformation process detailed below, while also allowing me to share sneak peeks of my favorite moments with my couples along the way.
More often than not, I photograph in the portrait orientation. The biggest reason for this is because of the wonderful dynamic of the wedding day. As I see it, a wedding is the intersection of the tangible and the ethereal–of heaven and earth–of body and soul. The portrait orientation allows me to emphasize that in those photographs.
The process of editing is just as important as the capturing of the photograph. My editing methodology allows me to deliver images that complement the couple’s style and aesthetic. This is why I take into account a few crucial factors that determine my overall editing, which is both modern and vibrant. This plays into how my couples connect with–and reflect back on–their big day.
On a day as powerful as your wedding day, the interplay of emotions, hormones, chemical reactions, and overall atmosphere leads to the creation of the most intense memories. Those memories are often recalled far more vibrant by you than by a bystander. Because of this natural phenomenon, I use my color depth and saturation to match the intensity of your experience.
My editing goal is to produce images that come across as a blend between editorial photography and photorealistic paintings. This is the signature look that couples commission me for. I recognize that color translates differently for different cultures, but I’ve photographed weddings across cultural lines and have had nothing but the most positive of responses because of the care I put in to matching the images to each couple’s personal style.
Each wedding is unique because each couple is unique. As mentioned above, I ensure that I translate the aesthetic of my couples into the final images they receive. To that end, I hand color-correct every single image and then retouch them. It’s how I guarantee that I carry through the authenticity of my couples into the photographs they will cherish over their lifetime.
SO WHY HYPERREALISM?
The term ‘hyperrealism’ has its origin in the world of painting, which is why I chose it to describe my photographic aesthetic. It’s a collision of two distinct fine art disciples on the one hand and an accurate descriptor of how the images come across to the observer. Perhaps a better term will emerge one day, but in the meanwhile I love how equally creative and utilitarian the term is. As you can tell, I have spent a considerable amount of time crafting a process that is not only holistic in nature but also connects to the human spirit and experience. This is what hyperrealism means to me. If this inspires you to book me for your wedding, please use the contact form to reach me. I would love to help you the way I have my other couples over the last decade. I look forward to hearing from you!