This photo is one of my favorites, and features in a year-end blog post. Working with kids at weddings is fun, but the last thing I want is for them to be aware of my camera. Of course, this is often impossible, and once noticed, I’ll spin the other way, pretending to photograph something else, avoiding eye contact. After a moment or two, if something is interesting, I’ll reframe and take a photo. Body language has to be discreet. It is my opinion, though the camera doesn’t matter. Camera manufacturers would like to believe otherwise, but body language is fundamental. I would state this for wedding photojournalism in general.
The Leica’s I use are wonderful to focus in any light, so I can simply frame. My lens is prefocused, continually, in fact, all day long by my middle finger, and then it’s a matter of some focus tweaking before squeezing the shutter. I already know the frame line before the viewfinder comes to my eye. I mostly use a 35 f1.4 or 50 f1 mm lens all day, so my brain knows the frame from practice and repetition, seeing the image a split second before I bring the camera up to my eye. In this photo, I saw the young girl from the other side of the bar area where servers were filling cups of smoked ice. Fun! I circled the area before seeing this shot, and it was all over in a few seconds. There were other kids milling around. I wanted specifically to see if there would be a reaction from the girl, yes, and get the diagonal line splitting the image in two. Yes. I didn’t review the image on the back of my camera. I never use the image review. It’s turned off by default. Unless I’m taking group photos, and I like to double-check framing and focus. If I’m busy looking down at the back of my camera, chimping away, then I will miss moments that I could’ve been photographing, Don’t chimp!
If you’ve come here looking to shoot more photojournalism in your work, then I can imagine the struggle to get away from posed images. The problem here is many photographers try to combine photojournalism and posed photographs, and in so doing undo what they’re setting out to achieve, especially for clients who are on a budget and focused on delivering a skinny album. All the candid images tend to be removed and end up with mostly posed pictures. Thinking about your next posed photograph will distract from capturing quality candid photos.
My clients want the photojournalistic aspect and trust me to deliver that based on portfolio and blog posts. I only show work that I love as an overall photograph, and not to please a client that the market is asking. I have to shoot for myself first. I admit I have struggled with this concept for many years. l Believing in yourself. Continue to be a voice and not be an echo has been instrumental. Yes, I get inspired by a photographer, but I do not emulate or copy them. There lies the key. The wedding market is flooded with images that follow trends, from light, airy post-processing, to directed images from photographers, to Instagram photos fighting for ‘likes.’
Camera used for this image- Leica M10 + 35mm f1.4
1. Believe in yourself
2. Don’t listen to the tiny little voices on the internet
3. Shoot for yourself, clients second.
4. A career is a journey, not a destination
5. You will have ups and downs
6. Success is not quantifiable; happiness is.
7. Ask yourself some serious questions, is wedding photography right for me? Why?
8. At weddings, you have to like people. If you don’t, this is not for you.
9. Do you have an enthusiasm for photography? If not, don’t follow this path
10. Keep your day job until you feel you have income and can cover your expenses
11. Photography is costly. Insurance, advertising, equipment. The list goes on from here, and of course, paying yourself is the goal.
12. You will need a second camera, at least. Do not think otherwise when it comes to shooting someone’s wedding, and you’re getting paid to do it. Spend more $ on glass than the camera.
13. Education. Paramount. Locals like Jim Landers school of photography is a start. WPPI in Vegas is another. Workshops, exhibitions, immerse yourself into art.
14. Shoot, shoot, and shoot.
15. Work on some personal projects.
16. Go second shoot or assist for a photographer you like. DO NOT EMAIL. Pick up the phone and call. Meet. Bring your work.
17. Do not think about becoming a rock star photographer. Don’t even go there.
18. Keep your ego in check.
19. Photography is a craft. Study photographers. Not just wedding photographers. Research Past Mastera is a start; Henri Cartier-Bresson is my go-to. I have about a dozen books by the artist on my shelf.
20. Study geometry.
21. Do not copy some other photographer’s styles.
22. Work hard.
23. To grow your business, you have two avenues to pursue or both. Advertise online. Ask your friends and family, business friends, to shoot at a discount to get more of your work available online, and build a portfolio. Without a collection, it’s going to be hard to get a job.
24. Meet photographers like me. Reach out. Ask questions; You’d be surprised. Some people remember what it was like to start and will repay in kind, helping the local community of photographers.
25. Join local photography meetups. Be open and friendly.
26. Finally, study light and composition.
27. And, study, light, and balance. Rinse, repeat.
28. Don’t give up.
Hey! I'm Philip Thomas
All-Inclusive Wedding Day Storytelling
If you like what you see, reach out! I have a cool English accent; I’m dashing, handsome and funny – so my wife says. Seriously though, I love the craft of photography, I’m a former news photographer and a documentary street photographer. I capture weddings throughout Texas from a fly on the wall perspective. You’ll not notice me. My photos are candid and delightfully artistic with a splash of color and monochrome.