What Are "Epic" Images?
So I wanna talk about this word, epic. We hear about it a lot in wedding photography. It comes with a lot of pressure to create epic images, right, this, mind blowing scenes or award winning photos. So when we think about epic we probably think about, you have the clicker, you're in control, okay, you know, sunset photos with these crazy locations, or scene setting images in these beautiful towns, like Tuscany, or we think about, you know, crazy dance floor situations. But that's not what we're gonna be talking about when we talk about epic. That's not what epic means to us.
Yeah, in real life, you know, the small towns in Tuscany and the sunsets, they represent such a small portion of our life. For us, for Davina and I, everything changed two years ago when my dad passed away, and the course of our life and the way that we knew it everything sort of became different. My dad was a photographer as well. He's the one who got me into it when I was 13 years old. So, having him, you know,...
pass away suddenly that was definitely hard, and so that was a very defining moment, you know, good or bad, it was a very defining moment in our life.
It was actually a really crazy year for us. I'm gonna go off already and--
Go for it.
Go into vulnerable territory, 'cause I mean, here we are. That year was really crazy. This was 2016. We didn't book any weddings, and we didn't know why. We're like, this is strange. We've always booked weddings, and suddenly we have one wedding that we had booked. We're like, maybe we're irrelevant. Maybe nobody wants to hire us anymore. We had all this self doubt, and at some point we just kind of said, look, there's a reason we're not booking and we're gonna figure out why that is. At some point, it's gonna make sense to us. So, I found out that I was pregnant with our daughter Charlie, so we're like, oh well, you know, maybe that's why. She was due middle of August, so, you know, that's the middle of the wedding season. So we thought maybe that was it. The image salon was really busy during that time and booming, so we're like, maybe it's the business. We built a new house. We thought, you know, that was gonna keep us busy and then, you know, we had the final, the final event, Daniel's dad passing away. So, this all happened within two months time, yeah. So we basically lived everything you could possibly live. So not getting any weddings that year was the biggest blessing we could have had. It allowed us to take a step back also professionally and realize do we even still wanna do this? Is this something we're still passionate about? But all of that made us realize that yes, we are still passionate about it, and it took off so much pressure. It's like we came at it from such a pure and vulnerable place now that we were able to approach weddings in a different way.
Without all that pressure, without all the epic pressure that we had been putting on ourselves.
We already had a storytelling approach, but it wasn't really defined so much. When we started shooting again after all these events happened we realized how much we valued that approach and it all just kind of came together in our head. We didn't really change the way that we were shooting but just how we thought about the way we shot, really changed a lot.
So here she is.
Yeah, so Charlie.
She was born four weeks after my dad passed away. And that kind of put everything into context. They literally missed each other by four weeks and my dad wasn't ill or anything. It just, you know, suddenly happened. So they literally just missed each other.
I still can't believe that he never had a chance to know her. It blows my mind that she's such a big part of our lives. Oh gosh, this is happening so soon. Yeah, it's hard, it's hard to see those two photos back to back. It's two photos taken in a hospital, one month apart, but you know, it changed, it changed everything for us. So, photos like you know this one, photos like this one, this is Daniel's dad at our wedding. Signature dance moves. This is him holding Max in the hospital when Max was born, our son.
Yup, and then, you know, he got a chance to meet Max for a couple years, so, you know those photos of them together in our life those are really the important ones. You know, we do have sunset photos from our own wedding on the beach and we do love those images, but you know, the ones that have very deep historical value, it's photos like these, you know, the couple years that my dad and our son knew each other.
And this photo is on our wall. We see it every day. You know, that's what's valuable to us.
Yeah. And obviously our two little munchkins. (laughing) Max and Charlie, you know, any photos of them. Those are, you know, super important to us.
Yeah. So they made us parents, which changed our perspective on weddings as well. Losing a parent and also becoming parents has really changed our perspective and it's made us biased, right? We are totally biased towards, this is the next slide.
I know. (laughing)
This is our bias in weddings and we embrace that. We're not photojournalists. We have a storytelling approach, we are moment driven, but we are not photojournalists. I went to journalism school actually and my photojournalism teacher told me promise me you'll never become a wedding photographer because you have too much potential. But you know what? This is what we do and I just, I love storytelling through weddings and I love that I get to connect with people, so, screw that guy.
So yeah, we're not, we're not photojournalists. We are wedding photographers, and you know, we can embrace that bias. We can say, yes, I'm biased towards family stories because of what we've lived. We've lost parents, we are parents, we've lost a parent, and that makes us biased, and that's okay. That serves our clients because they benefit from that.
Yeah. So something like this, you know, this is during the ketubah signing, which in Jewish weddings what happens right before the ceremony. All the guys go in one room and they, you know, do an official signing of the ketubah and for a split second, you know, the groom and his dad they share a moment, and you know, the whole time that they were sitting together I think of my own dad, and I think, you know, I kind of transform myself into the groom's place and I know how valuable any moment that he has with his dad is gonna be down the line, because I've lost my own father and I have this bias and kind of use it to our advantage in a way and really stay focused on the two of them, wait for a moment to happen, and immediately I know that this photo's gonna have a lot of value down the line.
This is Mario. So, his wife wrote a letter to his deceased father. She never met him, but she wrote him a letter on their wedding day, and she had Daniel deliver it, so he knew what it was all about. So she wanted him to read, yeah, this letter that she had written for his dad, basically talking about his son and you know how proud he would be. Yeah that's, I know. (laughing)
Crazy stuff. And so again, as he was reading that obviously, you know, nothing else in the room matters in that moment. I'm just focused on this connection that the groom is having with his dad even if it's not, you know, direct, physical connection, by reading the words on the letter and he's thinking about his dad and so he's connecting with him in that moment and that tear, you know, it's more than just the epic tear falling down the cheek. It's, you know, his dad being present in one way on the wedding day.
This might sound a little corny, but I really do see emotion on a wedding day when it's related to the loss of a loved one. I see it as that's how they're present, you know? Those moments that the bride and groom have when they're recalling you know or missing somebody that should have been there, that's that person being present, and that's how I see tears, you know? That's the presence of Mario's father.
A lot of people ask me how I dealt, grieving with, you know, the loss of dad, and for me the weddings have been such a good outlet because after this happened I went in another room. I just bawled for a minute, and it's good. It's healthy, you know. Through weddings I experience the father son relationship on almost a weekly basis and it allows me process it in a very healthy way, I think.
I also cry at all the mother son dances.
Yeah. So moments like this, you know, this is not the bride and groom but this is the groom's brother, and you know, every time there's a family present at a wedding I just know how precious this is for them. I wanna go, you know, above and beyond, not just for my clients, but for their guests who are there with kids. This is me as a mother connecting with this family. They actually, the bride and groom gave this family this photo as a print for Christmas, so they understood how important that was.
Even with older kids, you know, we can only hope that when our kids are seven, eight, nine, 10 years old that they're still gonna come to us and you know need those comforting hugs at the end of the night. And so we see that and we think of our own kids and we use our bias again to really capture a good photo for the people at the wedding.
Parent dances, I mean those are always hard for me, in a good way. But yeah, I think about this dad who's probably picturing her as a little girl, you know, and he's, that hug, just, there's so much emotion there, and so what parent dances are, we're very sensitive to them, and just very tuned into what's going on.
And, you know, for us we're in a special place because we're still young enough that we relate to our couples but we're also parents so we, you know, relate to the parents at the wedding and we think of you know parents who might not be there anymore. So we're kind of juggling, you know, all the generations you know throughout the wedding day and that's good. You know, you should use your own life experiences to create better photos for your clients.
Yeah, so what is epic now, right? This photo is epic for these clients. This is the father of the bride, Sadaf and Umer, so it came up while she was getting ready that she doesn't have a photo of her dad smiling. He never smiles and she just, they've never had a photo of him smiling. I went to Daniel and I said, our mission, we have one mission today. It's to get a photo of this dad smiling. And it was just a matter of being sensitive to that and it's not later that you wanna be going through all of your photos and just being like, oh, did I get something? Let's cross our fingers. You know, you have to be aware of that stuff in the moment and on the wedding day, so, you know, epic for this family. Definitely not award winning. The editing is a little, this was a few years ago. It might be a little contrast-y, but--
Yeah. This is Victor Lax. He's a wedding photographer as well, and you know--
In Spain, yeah, and his dad is this really tough farmer in Spain, and he said he's never seen his dad cry until he saw this photo. And so for him, this is the really special one. This is the epic photo for him and his family.
Any time grandparents are present, I mean, that is just gold, right? You know they're not gonna be around forever and getting moments like this are going to be priceless for this bride.
Yeah. We're gonna talk about the inner circle a little bit but you know whenever there's a bride or a groom connecting with anybody who's close to them that is most definitely part of something, you know, part of our formula and something that we really, really focus on.
This is the groom's sister. She was maybe seven or eight when, at the wedding, but she's an old soul. That's how they described her, and the nice thing about destination weddings is we often get a chance to spend extra time with the bride and groom. So we get to pick up on a lot of, you know, nuances and get to know people, not just through what the bride and groom tell us but actually through witnessing their interactions, and she totally is an old soul. I really saw that, and for a seven or eight year old to get emotional at a wedding, you know, like an adult would, such emotional maturity, right? So I thought this was a really special moment and you know for the bride and groom one of their favorite photos. This is her hugging the groom just after the ceremony, and this photo leads us to our first tip. We got our son Max to, his little face, to tell you some of our tips throughout. So throughout the class you're gonna be hearing instead of our words or our voice hopefully you know Max will be a more memorable, memorable tips.
Get close. Get close. Get close.
So yeah, get close. In those moments of emotion, like that previous photo, nothing else matters. So we hone in on that and we cannot be afraid to get in there and get close and you might feel that hesitation to really be up in people's faces, especially when they're feeling strong emotions, but actually being there is better than being on the sidelines and then suddenly running in all of a sudden. So, you know, being in their space they get so used to us I can't tell you the amount of times that we've had people at the end of the day or clients be like, I didn't even notice you, and you're like, really? I was all up in your grill, you know? But somehow they just get used to your presence. So, don't be afraid to get close.
Definitely, if you're far away all day shooting with a long lens and then out of nowhere you get in really close that's when they're gonna notice. But if we're at this distance from our clients the whole day at some point you just become part of the background. So we really become invisible by staying close and you know shooting closely is what allows us to get those photos that really make the viewer feel like they're in the action as well.
So I'm gonna share a story with you. So I'm gonna preserve her identity and keep the photos abstract, but this bride we met her just before her wedding via Skype and she kind of monopolized our conversation a little bit which was our bad. We should have, you know, asked her the questions we needed, but we kind of allowed her to take over the conversation. She basically just gave us a list of all of her details that she had done, you know? So, they were getting married in a barn. At the entrance of the barn we did this, and then here we did this, and I just wanna make sure you guys have all the details. So can I send you a list of all my details to make sure you don't forget to shoot anything? It was all she talked about. So, we kind of got off the Skype call and we're like, sure. We get all smile-y, and then we look at each other, we're like, oh no. (laughing) We were worried, you know? We felt like she was focusing on all the wrong things but we talked about it and we said, okay, basically she's given us, she's told us how to make her happy. If we cover her details, she will be happy. That's easy, I can do that, but I'm also gonna do the things that I know she really needs from her wedding, which is focusing on emotion, people, moments. We'll do our thing, basically, but we'll also, you know, go above and beyond to make sure her details are extra covered. So the wedding came and went. Everything went well. She was happy with her photos. Then when it was time to do her parent albums she forwarded me an email with her mom. She says, here's, you know, the correspondence with my mom. You'll see her selections below. So because I'm a little sneaky and curious I scrolled through their conversation, you know. She invited me by forwarding the emails to me, right? So she, this was part of her correspondence with her mom. I think the shots are truly incredible. I'm so glad we went with these photographers since I really feel they captured the feeling of the day. It makes me realize how stupid I am to remember the details like the seating arrangements being mixed up or the fact that the industrial cocktail tables didn't make it into the barn. Who cares? I mean, really. The day was absolutely breathtaking and couldn't have gone any better. After looking at these shots I wouldn't change a thing. So this was victory, right? I was like, yes! But we did cover her details. Maybe if we hadn't covered all her details then she would have something to complain about, right? But we did that, and we did everything we knew she really wanted, so we made her happy in the end. She didn't tell this to us, but she told her mom. So, as long as I knew. So I've told this story a few times before and usually that's where the story ends, but a few months ago I actually spoke with the bride again. She never made her own album. It was always something she was putting off. So I checked in with her in the new year and I'm like, you know, maybe this year's the year. You know, it's been a few years. And she wrote me back and said actually we're divorced now. But I do still want to make my album because we have a daughter and she'll never remember us together, and I want her to see the love that was present on the wedding day, when her parents got married, and I want her to see the love that made her. Yeah, I still get goosebumps thinking about that. It is so powerful to me because we think about weddings as being for our bride and groom, but there's, there are so many other people who will be touched by these images and who these images can be meaningful for. I know, me too. (laughing)