I heard the words coming out of her mouth and immediately could not wrap my head around why anyone would deny a large demographic of soon to be married couples their work simply based on the fact that the ceremony was being held at a church or a synagogue or for that matter any other religious institution.
“We don’t book clients that have their ceremony in Churches”, she said…
My eyes widen as I process what this could mean. We were at a networking event in Philadelphia and this was not the first time I heard this type of sentiment expressed by some photographers and videographers alike. I needed to know why, was it a difference of religious beliefs, maybe some kind of new horrible set of rules that I needed to be aware of? Aside from the do not stand, do not breathe do not do anything that takes the spotlight away from what I’m preaching about rules that we already deal with, I had to know WHY don’t you shoot Church Weddings. I don’t know, I just know that I needed to investigate further because we totally shoot Church weddings. In fact we shoot Church weddings, Synagogue weddings, Lake, Temple, Hotel Venue, Backyard, Ballroom, Gay, Cliff side, Beach, Mountain, Straight, Destination and even an occasional Holiday wedding.
Even though I personally feel that Church and State should be separated and I do support Marriage Equality and yes, I think that if the government requires you to fill out a piece of paper that binds your Union then every Union is in fact a Civil Union when broken down to the raw truth and should be called as such and that if you want to have a ceremony in whatever faith you believe in, you will in fact be married in the eyes of your God but as far as the government is concerned that is simply a ceremony and you are not “married” by the laws that govern these United States without that legal and binding license and certificate. A Priest, Rabbi, ordained minister or even a friend or family member who became ordained online can perform your ceremony and proclaim you married every day of the year and all they want to but that alone, in and of itself does not by any means make it a legal and binding Marriage, Church or no Church.
I’m bringing up a conversation No-NO, the “P” word, politics, however the Politics of this country or this industry does not dissuade me from booking clients that have elected to have their ceremony in a religious institution like a church. I am pro-love and pro all those that choose Love and Tolerance over Hate & Intolerance, I also know not all human beings can elect to have their ceremony in a church and not all want to, but that doesn’t mean that I will discriminate against the ones that can and do want to have a church wedding by not shooting their weddings at all.
Could it be that simple??? Religious differences?!? After delving and conversing further, to my dismay the knowledge that I uncovered had little to do with religion or the government (and those that know me know I love a good ole fashioned conspiracy theory) the statement had more to do with that photographer wanting only a certain kind of client and to shoot only a certain kind of stylized images that are aesthetically interesting to them with less rules to follow or detail heavy and wedding blog submissions or recognition worthy. This was why that particular photographer opts out of church weddings because the light may not be the best and there is little to no moving around allowed or usage of flash and not enough really cool and colorful details that the and I quote the “modern bride” has when having their wedding outdoors or in spaces other than churches and the like. NO other reasoning was given except that your Church wedding, how it’s decorated, the lack of back light or perceived inability to shoot with dreamy bokeh is just not cool enough on the so called modern bride cool meter and none of the popular wedding blog sites want to showcase anything that doesn’t lead to more cool modern bride stuff and therefore the Churches and their rules are not shoot worthy… Ummm, okay…
I just add this to the long list of crazy ass shit that I hear when I network BUT just because I think your shit is crazy doesn’t make it so. It just means that I acknowledge your crazy shit and recognize that my crazy shit is just different than your crazy shit. To each their own, after all we are all in some or many ways affected by everything that surrounds us and by natural selection we look for and indirectly or directly repel as well as attract others based on our own words and actions so it is pointless to begrudge someone by how they choose to conduct themselves, their beliefs or their business. This recent conversation however did cement a few things in my mind.
7 Reasons why we shoot Church Weddings and more.
- Whether you are getting married in a church or a ditch, if you love-love and each other then we like many others would be delighted to book your wedding and document your day even if the rules of the Ceremony suck and the light sucks and you didn’t print or replicate every Pinterest idea that you wanted to or get those really cool Mason Jars and such from Etsy in time to write on and match with your chalkboard signs et al. We would still love to be a part of your moments whether they are made or found because moments matter.
- We never make submissions to sites that require advertising dollars to be a highlighted vendor or pay for a wedding blogger site to showcase our work and we won’t, ever. If you measure what your vendors success is based on FB likes and pay per view advertising you will surely be missing out on the many professionals that could be a great fit for what your specific needs and wants are. I don’t think this behavior of marketing is wrong in it’s entirety, FYI – I recently started a Pinterest page and I see it as a great way to get our work out there and to research recipes to try out, I do however feel that just like Facebook has proven, reality becomes diluted when you only see the most epic of amazing-ness 5-10 shots that were set up for the purposes of advertising or display which in turn creates a disproportionate perception of what is the reality of the very specific events and moments on YOUR wedding day as opposed to re-creating images, decor or events from someone else’s wedding day.
- Your Wedding is not a glorified Photo or Video Opportunity. It is not the time for you to play in love or pretend family means something or for us to stage each and every contrived moment. It is a day that you can’t control. You can’t control the emotions of, personalities of or the weather or the time and so much more but you CAN embrace whatever unfolds knowing that you did an exceptional job hiring the people you felt would do justice to your vision so go do your due diligence and hire the best fit for you.
- Weddings are also a day that every Vendor that you have entrusted should shut their pie holes, not fight against each other but instead just do the best job that we can each do TOGETHER, unified for the good of ONE common goal and that is simply to use the skills you are paying us for to be part of creating and preserving the experience of your day with a tangible product or service that you are expecting to receive. This means you too Church Lady, Officiant etc… We are all here for and because of the two people standing before us uniting. is it always for love? I hope so. I can say one thing for sure, it is more often for love that marriages occur rather than any other reason under the sun.
- It is important that as Photographers and as Filmmakers we continue to strive for creating work that makes us happy, fulfilled, keeps us in business and creatively inspired but never at the cost of taking away your moment. For us and many others, your story will always trump any pretty, disposable piece of nothing. The faith that people have no matter denomination or sexual identity is something that should never be stripped from anyone. Having the ability to have faith in something, even something as flawed as humanity is intrinsically important.
- We will schedule the time within the day and work with you to create a realistic schedule or time line in order to make some beautiful, fun or WOW portraits in addition to searching for and documenting your moments as they unfold. There is a time and place for everything, all you have to do is embrace that as well and be present even when things don’t go to plan. Quite often something amazing comes out of an unplanned or unprompted scenario.
- Moments and Portraits can be found or made in any scenario – even a dark but lovely church and even when it’s too bright and ugly out or raining or snowing or freezing or dripping in sweat just be open to them, be open to the perfection or imperfection of these moments, embrace them for they are the only things that are unique to you and are truly yours and yours only.