Friday, March 12, 2010

Exceptions

Just to clarify this a bit, I don't hate all wedding portraits. In fact, I think our mothers might murder me if we forewent them altogether. (And I'm not entirely sure we'd guarantee a photo of my brother without a set portrait list, which would be altogether distressing when flipping through the albums in years to come.) So I get it.  But, I really can't stand the way mainstream blogs have begun celebrating the "artistic" bride and groom shots that look like magazine-perfect, flattened-personality, pretty-yet-cold, editorial-worthy photos. Maybe one or two, I could forgive. But I've literally had to scroll past pages of these portraits before ever hitting the good scrunchy-face-and-tears stuff on some big-time photographers blogs. And these portraits seem to be the first bride-and-groom (yeah, it's usually bride-and-groom) shots celebrated on most mainstream photo-heavy blogs. And sometimes the scrunchy-face-and-tears photos never get featured at all.

Blech.  My portraits are going to rock because they're going to be as ridiculous as we are.  In fact, I quite like ridiculous posed portraits. For example, of all the weddings I've pored through on the internet, this was the first portrait that made me jump up and say Hell Yeah.

Ridiculousness courtesy of the Thirty-Something Bride. Photo by Jonathon Campbell

In Louise's own words: "I'm not exactly sure how this started, but my brother and I have been doing this for decades. If I'm remembering it correctly, he and I were young and were acting up (Southern for misbehaving) one day. Someone (I want to say my dad, but it could have been my mom) told us to knock it off and to stop acting like little cretins. The adults left the room and I asked Austin what a cretin was. He made this weird face at me and made a strange sort of snorting noise and said, "That's a cretin." I mimicked him the best I could and said, "Like this?" And he said, "Yeah, like that!" And thus, The Cretin Face was born. It lives on to this day."

Um, I'm a total cretin, and I totally love this.  Particularly because Jason and I have a ridiculous face ritual of our own.  And good lord if we DON'T include it in our posed photos, it will be an entirely inauthentic wedding. Here's us being normal... or a good approximation thereof. (Excuse the shiny faces because, as you will clearly see, our ridiculousness requires a wee bit of alcohol.)


Now, here's us doing the "spitty face":

It started years ago when a friend introduced us to a website devoted to people making these faces (no, I can't remember it now) and it immediately became our group's thing. We own the spitty face, at every semi-tipsy gathering.  Since then, it's just radiated outward, across the nation. We've managed to convince nearly ALL our tipsy friends to get in on the fun (the above photos were taken in Brooklyn, by two equally spitty-faced fools who shall remain nameless for the purposes of this post). I think we have dozens of these things - of us, various groups of friends, and my boss (yes, really). Because admit it, the spitty face is just that awesome. After a beer or two you'd toooootally want to try too.  In fact, I'm going to see if I can convince my mother to join in with the fun at the wedding.  My dad might be hesitant, but I bet I could convince my mom to take part in some mother-daughter spitty faces. 

So yes, I make a firm exception for portraiture ridiculousness and general personality. Because THIS is what I mean by authenticity. Hell Yeah.

21 comments:

  1. the above ridiculousness just made my day. we've already decided we don't want many posed shots. we'll take a few to make the family happy, but after that, we're going full on photo-journalism style. any serious posed picture we try to take will end up looking lame anyway because my boyfriend does not know how to smile in photos.

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  2. Haha that is the best wedding photo ever. Until yours comes, of course.
    We have a weird face too. Well, I started it. I have no idea how, but I guess he fell in love with that face so now he makes me do it all the time. We did it during our engagement session and its one of my favorite so it'll be a required photo on the big day, for sure.

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  3. Oh I know there will be these shots. I don't mind looking like a freak in those. I just want one to shot to look ok.

    P.S. How the hell do you do that face?!?

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  4. Hahaha that is amazing! Can't wait to see what yours turn out like. The best wedding pix are the ones with personality. And I loved that pix of Louise too!

    Have a great weekend!

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  5. We have a model pose we do that looks ridiculous, but it's us. We may need to bring it out at the wedding :)

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  6. @anna - "you just put your lips together, and blow." With conviction and the pbbbbt noise. Cheek puffing (keep them loose!) and eye bugging just sort of happen. And make sure someone has a camera nearby. (It definitely takes a few times to get it right, which is why some alcohol and giggles are a definite assistance.)

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  7. This is awesome! I LOVE your faces, that's so funny! That will make one awesome wedding picture! Lol. I'm glad to know we're not the only ones with weird faces around.

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  8. I almost spit my drink out laughing. Ah, great way to start the morning. You guys are awesome.

    Although I still don't understand how you make that face even after your explanation.

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  9. I'll see if I can explain the process a little more clearly. Step 1: keep your lips loose and your teeth together. Step 2: Push air out through your mouth strongly and steadily. You should accomplish a "motorboat" type of sound (also known as a "raspberry"). Step 3: Aim a camera at your face. Start making the motorboat noise (remember, loose lips!) and while you're doing it, snap a picture. Voila! Spittyface. Once you've mastered the basics, you can move on to Advanced Spittyface (crossed eyes, cocked eyebrows).

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  10. Yeah, I am totally trying to do this at my computer. Um, I have spittle on the screen, so I guess that's a good start. I still need to refine my technique, but maybe I need to leave the vicinity of my laptop first. You know, as a safety precaution.

    Also: I'm with you on the portraits. We will do some before the ceremony with the family to appease The Mothers. The rest of the time it's gonna be posed goofy faces and general candid weirdness. And it will be awesome.

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  11. my favorite photo may be the one of josh and i high fiving mid-"firstdance."

    memories.

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  12. i heart ridiculously funny faces :) yours is silly yet too cute. every time our photog was testing the light, i made a face at the camera. when our photo proofs came in, i loved each funny face :)

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  13. that is the best wedding photo I've ever seeeeen!

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  14. Throwing this out there -

    There is tons of evidence to the portrait problem you explained, and I agree. But, I will be a *little* bit of a devils advocate, at least for the cool photags out there.

    There will always be pretty pretty pictures of the bride and groom, even if it's not what they are aiming for, if the photag is amazing. We have our share, and they look all art shot-y, but maybe not so emotional. THOSE photos are the ones most likely to land on the web or on the blogs. Why? Because, I'll speak for myself here, I wouldn't put the personal stuff up, and I banned our lovely photographer from putting personal stuff up... I mean, to the point of NO CEREMONY SHOTS ON THE WEB (except one, with just the tippy tops of our heads). Why? That was one of the most important moments of my life, and that's just for us.

    When I'm blogging other peoples weddings, I make a huge point to focus on emotional shots, not details shots (which is a start). But, it's always the shots that I would call 'the most important pictures of the wedding' that I leave out. Because someone's moment with their granny or their family... it's too much for me to take responsibility for. Not without granny's permission.

    So those are just my thoughts as to why you see less emotional shots. It's PART of the reason. You know the other part.

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  15. @Meg - Though I obviously haven't made it through to the other side with my own album of personal photos, I can sympathize with what you mean about holding the most personal moments close. Much in the same way that I hold my really heartwrenchingly personal stories close. But I hint at those stories here. And I think there are more photos safely hinting at those stories than the ones we see.

    And yes, I understand that some of those hinting-at or even full-out heartwrenching photos may in fact come about through portraiture (a fleeting moment, or a less formal session perhaps, in our case, since performative-me isn't entirely the me I appreciate best.)

    And I do think that, for those of us with an everyday(ish) presence on the web, questions of privacy v sharing are even more fraught than for the majority of photographers' clients and the couples featured on blogs. That's not to say that protecting intimacy isn't a huge factor for everyone who gets married/lives in the digital age, but there's a lot more pouring over/measuring up/measuring against for someone like you. And I think that understanding of both privacy impacts and of true celebration is obvious in your approach to your Wedding Graduate series.

    But, I think what some sites miss is the fleeting bit of emotion that makes us know it was a real wedding and not a photoshoot. You manage to find and celebrate those moments without exploiting them or the silent grannies. I think we're all just aching for that spark of recognition.

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  16. Awesome! Thanks for sharing our Cretin Pose! And I didn't know that's what you meant by spittyface! In our family, we call that "blowfish lips." I think we have an entire album dedicated to blowfish lip pictures. Well, maybe that's exaggerating. The album is definitely shared with multiple Cretin Poses.

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  17. @Thirty-something bride - I think we need to see examples of a cretin-spittyface hybrid photo. Cretin hands and body slump with spittyface/blowfish lips. I may have to attempt this soon. Yeeeees.

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  18. I love the spitty face. I think at the end of the day, the "portrait" shots are great to have and to admire but it will be those spittyface shots that will have you giggling/laughing and reliving the day all over again.

    p.s. You really have a way with words! I have to say your blog is one of the best written out there.

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  19. You guys are hilarious. We have a thing my whole family does that is called the horns - I will be posting the wedding horn photo on my blog shortly. It was the first funny face type thing we taught my niece at age two. Gotta love goofball traditions.

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  20. These are so brilliant! A good alternative to people like me who are stressing about pulling the wrong expression! ;) The silly face thing me, my OH and now some of my friends do is called 'the hamster teeth'. It's based on the thing my hamster used to do when he was mad with us! (I guess that makes it extra ridiculous!!)

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  21. Love your posts... You guys would be really fun to photograph! wishing there were more like you guys :-)

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