Getting Out of That “Creative Rut” in Your Wedding Photography

Creative LightingDo you ever find yourself thinking that after a years worth of wedding photography work, you might be losing your “creative edge”? Or that every wedding your photography seems almost “cookie cutter” in the way your photos turn out?

It happens to us all and yes, there are some realities about your wedding photography you have to face. A lot of your weddings are going to be nearly the same in feel, theme, order of events, and a whole host of “other things” that are almost identical.

But no two weddings are exactly alike and your “creative edge” can get challenged at times. You might even be thinking “why” am I doing the same things over and over and over and nothing “creative” seems to happen.

So here are a few ideas you might find interesting to make your wedding photography pop and get exciting for you once again.

Over the years, I honestly have no idea how many weddings I have photographed. I can tell you this much, I never approach the next one as being the same as the last one. Venues constantly change, themes DO change, and even the stress levels of the bride and groom are different. You even get those 2 hour “late getting started” ones at times that leaves you anxious and frustrated and a real test of your patience- especially when a “step-mother” isn’t there and nothing happens until she arrives (yes, that actually happened not to long ago).

These are things you can use to your advantage and can get really creative when those moments happen! So let’s take a look at what you can do to make your photography really unique for that couple and bring out some fun and relax the stress of the day.

  • Find the “props” being used at the reception and put them to creative use. One wedding I recently did, they have a whole set of “mustache on a stick” and “pipes on a stick”. The bride was having issues getting ready, so I picked up a few of these, took the grooms party and went outside to a bench. We hammed it up with those and took a lot of photos over a 15 minute time frame. The groom had fun, the groomsmen had fun, and the tension of “being late” almost disappeared. You can do this with “bubbles”, flowers, or any other creative prop you can find. Put it to a “non-traditional” use and see what creative things you can photograph.
  • Receptions CAN get “boring”, but you can make them interesting with your photography. In the posting picture, I used back lighting to put a “glow” around my bride and her father during their dance. It was a light stand mounted speedlight with a wireless trigger controlled manually.  I also used another flash on a “flip” bracket to fill in their faces. It was taken at dusk, so there was some ambient light there, but I shot at my highest sync speed to reduce ambient and make it appear at night. Don’t be afraid to try new lighting positions or adding light to create photographs that are unique to you.
  • Scout your venues ahead of time and take a few photos while you are there. Look around for interesting things where you can frame your bride and groom and their wedding party for their group photos. Even the most “dull” and “boring” venue has interesting things for your photography. Use them to your advantage. Remember, they chose the venue for a special reason, so make it special to them.
  • Measure your success in your wedding photography from their perspective. There is a reason they hired you and it’s probably NOT for the reason you think. They most likely have viewed your work and love your photography BECAUSE of what you either do or don’t do. So ask them what they liked the most and photograph their wedding according to THEIR needs and desires. The bottom line is, if they love their wedding photographs, you were successful in creating THEIR wedding memory. If you are not using a “shot list” and have discussed it in detail ahead of time, you could miss several photos they want.
  • Add to your posing techniques to create amazing photographs. There are several available books that can assist you in this and learning something new is always fun. If you struggle with posing, try posting an ad in Craigslist for “free” photographs of recently married couples and practice, practice, practice, until you get them looking natural and “un-posed”. Many of these shots you will find are great additions to your portfolio, and they get their session on a DVD. It’s a win-win situation, but DON’T forget getting a release signed ahead of time. You will find these sessions also add to your Engagement sessions as well. MOST of your memorable wedding photographs are totally posed, so these techniques are invaluable in your creativity.
  • Photograph a wedding totally free. This can be a great way to experiment and find new vision in your creativity. When you find yourself in a “rut”, don’t hesitate to do this since there are no expectations in most cases from your bride and groom and you can be as creative and fun as you want. It is also a good way to get started if you are considering entering the wedding photography field. Even if you “mess up”, you gain valuable experience and get through a steep learning curve. Wedding photographers don’t just “take wedding pictures”, but create MEMORIES. Learning to tell that story of their wedding day is what makes your work stand out. Make every photo a part of that total story, and you will succeed greatly.

There are a few ideas to add to your arsenal of creating great wedding photography for not only yourself, but for your clients. If I had to offer one piece of advise it would be to remember that your success is measured by how satisfied your clients are. Creativity can take you far, but if your clients aren’t happy, your number of bookings will suffer. Most of your future weddings will come from referrals, so making a satisfied client must be your #1 goal. Sure, many of the same photos are done over and over at every wedding, but it’s those unique touches you can add that makes your creative vision come alive.

The main thing is that you have fun in your work, find new ways to get creative, and stand firm on your desire to tell the story of your clients weddings and satisfy them immeasurably. A happy client always makes for a happy photographer.

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