chantal stone photography: the blog

September 3, 2007

The Answer Is Simple

Filed under: Good Reading,Inspiration,Personal,Photography — chantal @ 11:48 am

I came across an article in the Washington Post yesterday that so eloquently and articulately describes why I decided to pursue Wedding photography. The article is titled Getting The Picture, by world-traveled-photojournalist- turned-amazing-wedding-photographer, Matt Mendelsohn. In the article, Matt describes how, at first, he resisted wedding photography as a legitimate and respectable form of photography but then carefully explains how he was converted and now realizes the importance of what we do. (Just take a moment to read the article, it had me in tears at the end.)

I, too, resisted wedding photography for a long time. As Matt puts it, wedding photographers have in the past often “reside[d] in a category usually reserved for car salesmen and stamp enthusiasts, a little bit of Willy Loman with a pinch of Charlie Brown.” I was determined to be the Fine Art Photographer. I exhibited in galleries, read all the art mags and kept up with the hot galleries and contests. I was mostly content with my role as ‘starving artist’ and figured that sooner or later I’d have to get a ‘real’ job but if I was lucky I could get a job teaching photography or even take on the occasional commercial gig or two.

But the role of Art Photographer quickly began to feel empty. The constant intellectualizing about style and meaning became exhausting. I needed for my work to mean something. I feel something each and every time I click the shutter, and I began to realize that I needed my work to mean something to someone else too. I craved purpose in my work, and the little projects I assigned for myself weren’t feeding the need enough. I became more and more attracted to relationships and emotion between people, but found few places where I could photograph people candidly, being themselves, without drawing too much attention to myself: ‘weird chick with big black camera’.

I don’t remember exactly when it happened, or even how. But I suddenly realized that the best way I can express myself as an artist is by photographing Weddings. Beyond just the bouquet toss and the standard wedding party portrait, weddings are the perfect place for me to capture emotion in its rawest form. There is so much struggle and strife in the world. And there are plenty of courageous and talented photographers who travel to some of the most dangerous spots on the planet to document the worst of humanity and suffering in its purest state; but quite frankly, I wince and cry at the two minute intro scene of Law & Order, I hardly have the stomach for war and famine. Weddings are at the opposite end of that spectrum. Sure some are over the top and examples of excess times ten, but here we have two people desperately in love, surrounded by family and friends who love them dearly. They are so incredibly happy at this final culmination of anticipation, and very often the love is so overwhelming that tears will cloud my viewfinder.

I’ve said this before, but nothing is more true: after the food is eaten, the gown put away, and the guests are gone, the only things left are the memories of this monumental day, this major turning point in the lives of two people, two families…and of course, the photographs. Being there to document one of the most important days in a couple’s life is such a gigantic honor, I am so humbled every time I am trusted to take on such a task. (And this time, ‘weird chick with big black camera’ is actually welcome!) Every shot, every moment is so important and will hold that memory for this family for generations to come.

We all can agree that one of the most important things in life is family. Documenting the very foundation, the birth of a family is profoundly important work. How could I not want to be a Wedding photographer? There really is nothing else I would rather do.

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1 Comment »

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