So it seems I've created a bit of a firestorm with my post last week. And I think I need to step in and clarify a few key points, both about interpretations of my post and about things I've learned in a deluge of emails since then:
1. My post was about a segment of photographers I've come across in my time researching, reading, and blogging about weddings. It was 100% not a post about a specific photographer. In my comments, I saw an example of poor treatment from a reader and snapped. Her comment reflected what I know to be true from speaking with wedding pros, brides, and following wedding-industry blogs like Think Splendid (both this article about Online Marketing and the Plus Size Bride and the comments are worth a read). I included my reader's comment as an example to illustrate these issues and not to call anyone out and I purposely did not discuss who her photographer was. However, I now have reason to believe that I was never given the whole story about this particular example. There's a reason I didn't provide names and would request that others not jump to conclusions about the same. Regardless, my post absolutely highlighted a truth I have seen in this industry. After receiving emails and reading entire pro photography forums dedicated to calling me a "fat, ugly, bridezilla" because of my post (and that was the nicest of it) I know this is a real undercurrent in parts of the wedding industry.
2. We brides tend to be an insecure bunch. I've admitted to my own issues publicly, in an attempt to move beyond them, to be brutally honest about the good and bad of wedding planning, and because I know I'm not alone. Really, you try going for 18 months of an engagement being asked all the time how much weight you're going to lose and you try to come out with healthy self-esteem. It's hard. I know a few other brides who hated their photos when they first received them. Everyone else loves them, but we can't see beyond our own imperfections... for the first few weeks. We can see that the photos and art are amazing, but we hate how we look in them. And for us, I would recommend we all take this advice to heart. And then, there are truly disappointing photography experiences. Those where a bride didn't get a single photo with her daughter and new husband (which happened to a fellow bride here in blogland quite recently). Or where the photos were average and none looked like the perfect website or blog publicity shots (which is why I requested access to view at least one full wedding from my perspective photographers, to get a feel for their style beyond just their best work.) But I can tell you there's a difference between insecurity-hatred issues and bad-photographer issues. We know the difference.
3. My post was about that difference. My post was about the photographers who really don't respect clients of all looks. Blogs are one possible place where that bias comes out, but they are not the only indication and blogs were not the point of my post: respect was. Most photographers I've met are fabulous people who got into weddings because they love using their art to illuminate couples' joy. And some - a select group - are cruel and horrific to less-than-stunningly-pretty couples. That was my real problem in the post. And when we get a less-than-sensitive comment from our photographers - even if it wasn't malicious - it's deeply hurtful. And when we know that we aren't publicity worthy (again, we know the difference between an insensitive comment and something worse) it is profoundly insulting and painful.
But because blogs were the focus of many conversations happening about my post, I wanted to address some of the issues about blogging that have come up:
4. My post referenced photographers' blogs, which are really different than mags or pro wedding blogs (those are topics for a different post altogether). I think the last two years have seen a huge shift in the wedding industry due to blogging of all sorts, and there are no standard rules or expectations yet. Some photographers have sites and blogs. Some have turned their blog into their primary site because it's more dynamic and up-to-date. Some see their blogs as a personal space and their websites as a professional space (though as clients, we see your blog as a reflection of your professional work, I assure you). I had assumed that photographers' blogs were a place that featured all of their most recent wedding work... except for a few "edited" choices that ticked me off. For some photographers, they in fact edit like this, and they've said as much in forums and emails, though they wouldn't often say it to clients faces.
5. A lot of photographers use their blogs differently than I had assumed. Some emailed to gave me insight into why not everyone gets blogged and I think it's important to share their perspective: "I just wanted to let you know, from a professional photographer's standpoint, that choosing whether to blog a wedding has MUCH more to do with the light, venue, details, emotions, and quality of our work than with the attractiveness of the bride and groom. I'm sure there are a few jerks who choose to only blog pretty people, but I think the vast majority of photographers would agree that there are a LOT of factors that influence whether we blog a wedding or not, and the attractiveness of the client is pretty low on the list. Brides whose photographers don't blog them shouldn't take it as a personal attack or get offended or hurt by it, and if they do, they should be honest with their photographer and ask them why. Chances are that the reasons the photographer didn't blog the wedding had nothing to do with how the bride and groom looked. Maybe the photographer just got busy and didn't have time to blog it - maybe they were saving it because they wanted to use fresh, never before seen material for their sample album - maybe they were trying to get it published so they didn't want to put it up on their blog - maybe they just forgot!! Don't hate a photographer or assume the worst just because they selectively blog - there are plenty of legitimate reasons, none of which are a judgment of the "publicity worthiness" of the wedding or the bride and groom."
6. I am genuinely curious about the "not enough time to blog every wedding" issue I've heard from multiple photographers as a reason they don't always blog weddings. Honestly, I blog about 3 times per week in text-heavy posts that I create from scratch and edit (on top of my real job, wedding planning and a completely overscheduled life), so I didn't expect it would take a lot of time to blog a few photos that a photographer has already edited for clients packages. I could be wrong and would absolutely want to correct that misperception here on the blog (photographers - please chime in in the comments!)
7. I remain 100% convinced that great photographers can beautifully capture people of all sizes, colors, sexualities, and wedding styles because I've seen those photos over and over again on high-end photographers' blogs. And I also believe that having a few photos of these weddings will increase your market share. You can continue to focus the majority of your photos on traditionally attractive photos because yes, that makes sense to draw clients in. It's the first glimpse of something obviously aesthetically pleasing that gets often gets new clients to click on your site. But then... we want honesty. We like knowing you can capture us, beautifully. In a similar "we want honesty" vein, a lot of the real bride communities that I've followed (Weddingbee, Offbeatbride, Indiebride) have huuuuuge numbers of forum posts with real women in real wedding dresses. Readers have been overwhelmingly positive about me posting pictures of myself in various dresses. It's because we want to be able to make informed decisions and the models aren't helping. We are unbelievably relieved when we see people who look like us in dresses and wedding photos and relief is the main emotion on these sorts of threads. We understand all about marketing needs and we are darn savvy consumers. We like the pretty pretty pictures, but we also like knowing that we can trust our dress and photographer to make US pretty on our wedding day too.
8. Our photographer, and every photographer we seriously considered hiring, blog clients of all sorts (unless the client doesn't want to be blogged, which can be contracted). These are all photographers with features on major blogs and all charge several thousand dollars (plus) and have heavily/fully-booked schedules. In other words, respect is not limited to "low-class" or "poor" photographers and their clients, like I saw discussed in many comments, emails and forums. I made a conscious choice to only interview photographers with a representative sample of clients on their blogs. So yes, as several defensive photographers have mentioned, your blog is a marketing vehicle and it advertises a lot about you. And no, for the record, I am not "fat, old, ugly, and poor" and that's not why I was looking for a photographer who had a range of clients. Instead, I was looking for a photographer who understands what's beautiful about weddings and I prioritized respect and real human emotion and connection.
I'll spare you from the language I've received about this, because it's truly horrific the ways some photographers refer to "fat ugly" brides. These photographers obviously felt that "fat and ugly" was the worst insult you could hurl at someone on the internet, thereby displaying their own prejudices and limitations. And yes, I stand by my belief that these people shouldn't be anywhere near my wedding or wedding photography in general. Because if you can't see the beauty in the wedding emotions themselves, then you're probably not the best person to capture it for posterity. Go become a fashion or product photographer, please. Hire your beautiful models so the rest of use don't need to be exposed to your misguided contempt.
9. The vast majority of the wedding photographers I've met are absolutely incredible. They are wonderful people who actively celebrate joy. They are artists who can capture joy-as-beauty. They love their clients and became wedding photographers because they love weddings and photography-art. This makes me happy. This makes me jump for joy (and not in a jumping bridesmaid photo way). These are the people who I want to have surrounding me at my wedding. These are the photographers sending me dozens of emails about how they support what I wrote and how they blog and love all their clients.
Thank you to all the wonderful photographers who reminded me that my issue is just with a narrow segment of the photography world. Thank you to everyone who emailed kind words and beautiful photos of your weddings. Thank you to everyone who sent balanced and fair counterpoints that are worth discussing. From all of us couples navigating the challenges of this engagement and wedding process, Thank You. If I haven't sent you a personal email or thank you yet, I apologize. Give me time, I'm still trying to get through the inbox, but please know that I truly appreciate this dialogue and chance for us all to bridge the gap between couples' and their photographers.