There’s a cool Pinterest board from Light, maker of this compact camera, that’s devoted to Photo Evolution… links to stories from real photographers showing how both photography and photographers evolve over time. And I started to really think about it… so many people ask me to describe my style, or my approach to photography, and it’s a great question that is SO hard to answer! So I’m taking this chance to really delve into what makes my photography unique, and how I got there.

So let’s take a little walk back to 2004, when I was just starting out. I was a second shooter for MANY years before I started on my own. Here’s an image from one of the very first weddings I did. I remember really loving this image!

And I’ll contrast it with a similar type of shot from a recent wedding:

So what has changed? (aside from bridal and floral fashion, that is!)

When I think back about myself as a photographer in those early days, the images weren’t BAD. But they were missing something that exists in my images today. What it boils down to is HEART. I’ll explain.

I believe firmly that what separates a great image from an average image is what is in the heart and mind of the photographer at the moment they click the shutter. What was in my heart then? Honestly, mostly FEAR. I was timid in those early days, afraid I’d miss a shot, afraid I’d mess things up. My mind was fully consumed with the pure technical details of what I was doing. Am I in focus? Is my ISO correct? Is my shutter speed to fast/slow? Did I remember to change the aperture from the last shot I was doing? Am I at the right angle? All of those things occupied my mind so completely that I couldn’t bring any of ME into the equation. I’m starting my 13th year of shooting weddings, and over these years I’ve settled down a lot, thankfully! I’m comfortable with my camera and the technical aspects of getting the shots I need, and that frees up my mind and my heart for that next dimension of photography. It’s not just about the technical aspects, its about the heart and creativity that takes an image to the next level. It’s the balance between anticipating what’s going to happen and staying connected to the moment to be really in tune with WHAT IS.

Today, my photography is much more soulful. I LOVE my clients, I LOVE these moments, I feel genuine affection for what I’m shooting … not just the people, but also the gorgeous details and the personal elements. I honestly appreciate the beauty of the florals and linens and cakes when I’m photographing them, and I believe it shows through in the emotional content of my images. And it helps me to be in tune with couples as they interact with each other and their guests and get real emotions showing through in my photos.

 

Back in those days, since I was a second photographer, it was my job to get the secondary angle… the primary photographer got “the shot” from the must-have angle, and my job was to find an interesting shot from somewhere else in the room. I think starting that way really helped me to develop my love of different angles and perspectives.

Here’s another shot from that same wedding in 2004:

And from a wedding last year:

Being a second shooter taught me to always be on the lookout for what’s going on around me, that sometimes it’s the little things that help to tell the story, not just the obvious things. Yes, the couple getting married is a big part of the story, but it’s also about the petals on the floor, the rustic setting, the hand raised in prayer for their marriage.

I’m always watching and listening for what’s going on around me as I shoot. It’s that being in tune with what’s going on around me that helps me to not just take pictures, but infuse a little love into the images. It’s not just a photo, but a connection to the moment.

I’m so grateful for all the clients and friends that have been a part of my evolution as a photographer, and as a person!