Curating and storytelling with pictures

In previous posts and in some of our bios I talk about my days as a commercial photographer and how I switched to this life of photographing people; mainly focusing on weddings and lifestyle portraits. One of the main reasons I made the switch was for the creative freedom this kind of photography gave me. Being a commercial photographer is very rewarding but in most cases (or how I found it) you are very limited by the brief, usually supplied by an art director or product manager with very specific criteria that needed to be adhered to.  I also found that pitching and quoting for work was very focused on price and not creativity. When we started to shoot weddings my style developed and became more artistic driven. Clients where booking us because they felt that connection to our images, this is a wonderful feeling and it’s something that we treasure with every shoot and every commission that we take.

One of the skills I learnt very early on is the importance of what you leave in and what you leave out of an image. How you compose your pictures and especially how an image is cropped can be an art form in itself. Cropping can make the difference between an average picture and an award-winning picture and sometimes it takes a lots of confidence to be bold with these decisions. The power of what you leave in and what you leave out is also so important when it comes to curating a collection of images. A wedding to me is just like curating an art exhibition. There is always a start, middle and end, and the way the pictures connect and flow together is crucial to the storytelling aspect.

In the early days of our wedding photography business we lacked so much confidence that we would give clients everything without any real thought about what the images were saying. Only over time did we begin to realise the impact of carefully selecting images and putting them together so they complimented each other and emphasised the emotional connection between the viewer and the story. A good example of this is when there are four or six pictures of the same thing but all with very slight differences.  To include all six images would dilute the impact, whereas one image would stand out and have a real wow factor.  Equally when there are a sequence of events like exchanging vows at a wedding or a child and their dog playing and having a wrestle; this is where a sequence of images give motion and animation to the story.

When clients first see the images from their wedding or their lifestyle session there tends to be an overwhelming feeling of excitement of experiencing the whole collection of pictures for the first time. This is something that after all these years is still so special to us and the feedback we get from clients always blows us away but I think the process becomes even more personal when it comes to designing albums and books. After some time when couples have lived with their pictures for a while it is time to select their favourite pictures to be designed in a layout for a book.  Client’s ‘must-haves’ start to shape the way the images speak to them and how they see the story at that moment. The Book is where everything becomes truly bespoke and the collaboration between photographer and client is realised… Just like an artist and curator will work together to create an exhibition.

This has to be my absolute favourite part as it’s the final stage in seeing the creative vision realised.  From the early stages of meeting clients to the months leading up to the big day, then comes the adrenaline and excitement of the actual wedding, to delivering the pictures and then, at last completing the book.  This final stage probably has to be the most rewarding. Right there on those pages is everything that we thrive on, everything that we love about being photographers and everything we love about life.