My post on Wednesday got me thinking more about what I had written on the role of the female wedding photographer in Ireland. Then I remembered a conversation I had last year with a male wedding photographer that I met at a seminar in Dublin. We were introduced and began talking shop as you do. Business was good for both of us, he had just driven to Kerry to meet with a couple who were looking to book him for their wedding. We talked about the distances you travel as a photographer and the beautiful places you get to visit along the way. Then what he said took me by surprise…”you know you have an advantage being a woman”. Why, I asked, as it was a man telling me this in an industry that is still largely dominated by men!
He spoke of recent experiences with brides and conversations he had with them – they were increasingly looking for female photographers to capture their special day. Again, I enquired why was this now the case did he think? He spoke of the woman’s eye for detail. In setting up shots we spot if the dress is out of place, if the brides hair needs fixing, if the flower girl needs a hug from her mum! I agree, all of this is true but there is something more to the idea that brides are now looking for female wedding photographers. It is true that as a female I do have an excellent eye for detail and in composing shots I instinctively know when something is not right and needs to be adjusted. But that is more in my character, my make up. It’s not necessarily because I am a woman.
I think the real difference in being a female photographer is that I understand brides better and consequently I understand their vision for their wedding day better. Let’s be honest, the bride-to-be is often the driving force in wedding preparations. Whilst the decision making process may be a joint one, it’s the bride who does the research, emails and meets with suppliers and puts the different options on the table. I have been to countless weddings where the groom has thanked his new wife for all her hard work in bringing the day together; and that it would not have happened without her. For me, building my wedding photography business is about building relationships. I love my work and I love the people I get to meet along the way. My approach is simple. If the bride and groom feel relaxed in my company, if we connect and get on well, the result is better images that show the couple of naturally. This allows their love for each other to shine through in a beautiful image. A big part of this comes from the fact that along the way I have become friends with my brides, through our conversations I know and understand what their vision of the day is. I text or email if I come across something that they may be interested in, like a cool wedding invitation or table setting. Yes, I get that excited about the weddings I shoot!
Being of a similar age to most brides, we have more in common in life in general but also in ideas for weddings. We are equals in so many aspects. For me handbags and shoes are a religion! Walking around the hand bag department in Brown Thomas is a thrill! I love looking at the new arrivals, looking at colours, designs and sizes and checking to see if the DKNY handbag I have been saving for is still there! I get all the details of the wedding that are important to a bride – the dress, the shoes, the flowers and the song that she will walk down the aisle to. Every little girl has been there, they have dreamt of their wedding day, what it will look like, what they will look like, their father giving them away and who is there waiting for them at the top of the aisle. It’s just what we do and I don’t think men quite understand this part of us.
Perhaps this is why I love the preparations part of the day, when the house is full of excitement and anticipation of what is to come. The day has finally arrived and all those dreams and hopes for the wedding day are coming to life. It is such a special thing to be part of. I love capturing the bride as she gets her hair and make-up done and observing her real excitement mixed with a little bit of nervous anticipation. I then get to slip away and take some detail shots. I find the dress and the shoes and all the other beautiful accessories that make up the day and take some shots – the beauty really is in the detail. As a woman, I take the type of pictures that strongly connects with my brides. I have a built in understanding of what they want and can show this through the type of photography that is innate to me being a woman.
And this appeals to other women. If you were a bride booking a wedding photographer, who would you choose? A female who is one of your peers, who instinctively knows as a woman what is important to you on your wedding day and can talk to passionately about it or someone who doesn’t really get you and your childhood dreams?
And for all those girlie girls…shoes…!
Tanya Colclough at Eden Photography, your wedding photographer for Waterford, Carlow, Dublin, Kildare, Kilkenny and all of Ireland