Today were taking a big detour from our normal editorial content to address a topic close to hearts of many in the wedding world What exactly constitutes the art of wedding photography and where do the various sources of images fit within editorial, personal and professional use? As with most industries, wedding photography has changed greatly within the past decade, and commercial shoots and shoots that occur outside of the actual wedding day have grown vigorously over the last couple of years and they have been a hot topic on the minds of wedding bloggers, wedding professionals and wedding photographers alike, all with different opinions about their merits and appropriate use. What we’ve learned in our many conversations on the topic is that, just like in all aspects of life, there are as many opinions and perspectives as there are people in the conversation.
Saturday we received an anonymous e-mail through the contact form on our website criticizing us for including non real wedding images in our 2010 Best of the Best photo collection and threatening action if we do not remove a particular image taken as part of a commercial shoot from it. Here is the e-mail, minus two sentences in the middle:
“I am not sure if you are aware or will even care. Unfortunately , many photographers are now misleading brides with images taken from corporate or commercial shoots. There is nothing wrong with them using their images but misleading wedding blogs and brides I think is horrible and its getting worse. [Two sentences removed here because they contain information specific to the photographer and image being referenced and we do not think its relevant to the conversation]. I would hope that this would concern you and you would remove it from the best of wedding photography. I would hope that only images created for brides would make it this list. I hope you do this on your own accord if, I dont see anything happen there are a few of us that will start a campaign outlining images like this.” from firstname.lastname@example.org
While we’re not going to remove any images from this years collection, we will tell you our thoughts on the topic and how we arrived at the decisions we did regarding non wedding day images in The Best of the Best 2010. After we made our call for submissions for the 2010 photo collection and began seeing images pouring in from around the world, we recognized that there were some photos that seemed to be from shoots that did not occur on a wedding day, whether a styled shoot, commercial shoot, engagement shoot, bridal portrait shoot, or other. Because we did not call out any requirements for or against these kinds of images on our call for submissions page and because there was simply no way for us to know the context of each of the thousands of photos coming in, we decided that this year we would do as we had stated and choose photos simply based on merit, then really look into how and if we should reorganize the structure of submissions for 2011. It’s as simple as that. We did not feel that phtoographers were trying to mislead us, but assumed that if they submitted these images, they considered them legitimate wedding photography. Perhaps we should have addressed it this year, or perhaps not, but we didn’t and so we stood by what we did ask for. As far as we know there are at least 2 images in the Best of the Best 2010 collection that happened during non-wedding day shoots – one that seemed obvious to us but we chose anyway for its beauty and quality, and one that we learned about after the collection was published. There may be even more, but we stand by every beautiful photo and the photographers who worked hard to create them, and we are honored to get to share them with our audience.
We’re a very collaborative bunch here at Junebug, and we welcome discussions like this. We love that being part of an always-evolving industry constantly challenges us to evolve along with it in the most creative, thoughtful and positive way we can. Since this blog is read by a combination of photographers, photo-lovers and engaged couples planning their weddings, we thought that the best way to continue this conversation would be to simply open it up and welcome everyone’s opinions here.
So tell us your perspective, we’d love to hear about your personal experience. There are a million different places to start, but here are a few questions to get the juices flowing
Brides and Grooms – Do you enjoy seeing images from photo shoots on wedding blogs? Do they spark inspiration for your own wedding day or do they leave you feeling frustrated that what is shown is not possible with your budget or local resources? Do you feel like you are aware of when shoots are from real weddings or when they are an editorial or commercial creation? Do you see too many out there, or not enough?
Bloggers and Publishers – What is some of the feedback you’ve heard from your own readers, peers and professional collaborators? Do you like to publish styled or commercial shoots, or do you steer clear of them? Do you explain the circumstances in which all of your imagery was created? Do you create original editorial content for your publication and do you treat it differently than content from real weddings?
Photographers – Do you participate in creative styled shoots? If not, why not? If you do, tell us why and what value they bring to you professionally, artistically, and editorially. From an artistic perspective, do you consider images produced from staged shoots the same as you do you images produced at weddings themselves, and do you submit them to blogs, magazine and image contests? Do you use them in your portfolios? What about images from bridal shoots, day-after shoots, or other conceptual shoots you create with your wedding clients that don’t take place on an actual wedding day? What about wedding related commercial shoots?
Please keep your responses respectful and polite, and above all, constructive. We do not think that anyone is going to win this debate – there is no clear black-and-white or right-or-wrong answer here, just a really interesting discussion that we are excited to support. We will not be publishing comments that are rude, insulting or finger-pointing.
And to our anonymous e-mailer: we absolutely respect your right to your own opinion and we will take your words into consideration as we approach our editorial content throughout the year and our Best of the Best 2011 submission requirements. That said, we do not respect or accept threats and bullying. Junebug is built upon a number of closely held values, two of the most important being kindness and honesty. We believe that the rise of anonymous sources criticizing artists in the marketplace is unfortunate, unproductive and often poisonous, and not something in which were willing to participate. We welcome you to publicly engage in the discussion by commenting below, or to e-mail us openly in order to have a real conversation. In addition we hope that you respect our right, and everyone’s right, to his or her own opinion and ability to express themselves artistically in whatever way is authentic for them.