As a photographer, I'm constantly scanning magazines, the web, other artist's work, etc for inspiration for upcoming sessions & weddings. I've found that if I don't stay on top of things this way, it's easy to fall behind in trends. Brides are constantly looking at wedding blogs and magazines and as a huge part of their big day, I need to be "in the know" about what they're seeing, what's influencing them and ultimately, what they want. On top of these sources, it's easy to get those creative juices flowing with other avenues as well; A movie's cinematography may inspire my lighting choices, a store window may give me a prop idea or a badge on the COLOURlovers website may sway me in a color palette for my session.
For example, I love these particular palettes:
The first one makes me think of a romantic engagement session... very natural, blush tones, something dewey and fresh with a little pop of color (the blue) maybe in the sky, some flowers or an unexpected place like socks. The second would be great for a bridal session... super girly, soft and feminine.
In my office I keep an inspiration board with papers, photos and notes that I look at for inspiration or encouragement. You want a peak at it? Okay, okay. Here's what it looks like:
When I found out that one of the photographers that I stalk, I mean uh, follow on twitter wrote a book on the subject of wedding photography, I had to buy it. I really didn’t even think about it. I saw the post that Fine Art Wedding Photography was released, immediately went to amazon on my phone and Jose Villa’s book arrived 48 hours later.
So was it all I expected?
What I expected was a book of some of his favorite images, how he goes about his day and then maybe some pointers. It is a comprehensive book about his whole career. He goes through all of the types of photos he takes during the wedding day, the technical aspects of it (down to his camera settings and film choices), his business practices, marketing, and how to move your business up to the next level. It is much more detailed than I anticipated… to the point that in some instances I thought, “I can’t believe he’s sharing all of this with everyone.”
One thing that I’ve always had a hard time doing is marrying my fine art background to wedding and portrait photography. Jose does just that, and does it beautifully. He taught me to not be afraid of grain or blur… that it can sometimes give life and energy to the images.
i.e. – this shot of the bride and groom dancing (on left). The groom has a bit of motion blur to him, but it shows the energy of what’s really happening.
For this shot, I upped the ISO and lowered the aperture for the low light. I love that the bride and groom have a little motion blur to them but you can still see the great expressions on their faces.
For reception shots he really focuses on capturing emotion. One of my favorite things is to capture those moments that nobody thinks anyone is watching.
The black and white image on the left page is an example of this with the focus on the emotions and reactions to the couple dancing. My take on emotion photography is similar.
Far Left // These ladies have such a different reaction to the dancing going on that it is one of my favorite images and makes me smile every time I see it.
Top Right // With the bride and groom dancing in the foreground, the parents of the bride look on. The mother wipes her tears away.
Bottom Right // The mother of the bride dancing with her new granddaughter-in-law.
I love the sweetness in this image. It takes a simple hug and turns it into a palpable moment between the bride and flower girl.
If you could only have one word to describe Jose Villa’s work I would say it would be elegance. There’s a beauty and sophistication to his images that comes with time and hard work.
One of the little nuggets of information that he gives is sections called “Lessons Learned” where he shares times that he’s made a mistake or two and what he’s learned from it. This gets a big “Hallelujah” in my book that even great photographers like Jose Villa can be real enough to share their mistakes. I applaud him for these little sections and make notes for myself.
During the marketing section he talks about getting featured on blogs and magazines. Most of the publications like to see lots of detail pictures. These are some of my favorite things to photograph because it brings individuality to each wedding. It also shows the bride that you’ve noticed all of her hard work in the small details of her day.
Far Left // Guests grab a glass of champagne after the ceremony
Top Right // Bride putting on her shoes
Bottom Right // Grooms shoes
Some of the other topics that he discusses are the importance of the bridal portrait, bride and groom portraits & family portraits. Here are a few of my favorites from recent weddings.
I think that the book says without actually saying, that there are lots of photographers out there that will create images that are very “now”… but will they stand the test of time? Fine art photography will always be beautiful and will always "wow". No need for gimmicky editing or post effects. No need for quirky props or backdrops. Even though those can still be fun at times, creating your business or selecting a photographer for your wedding that does high-end fine art portraiture will always stand the test of time. You’ll never look back at your photographs and think, “what were we thinking?”
His book is an instant classic for me and a definite “go-to” for inspiration. I will definitely be flipping though it again and again as a refresher and bout of encouragement before all of my weddings.
True wedding photography is a fine art. And Jose Villa is a fabulous artist.
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Jose Villa is one of today's most in-demand wedding photographers with his cutting edge style of fine art wedding photography. Fine Art Wedding Photography shows you how to produce the lush, stylized images modern brides love. Complete with lessons learned and camera detail settings, a must have book for every wedding photographer.
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