It feels like we have just returned from Stockholm, full of impressions, amazement and insights – just to find ourselves being back amongst some of the most creative, inspirational and visionary individuals of the wedding photography in the world. And as if being part of Way Up North 2016 isn’t already exciting, the incredible organizing team – Cole and Jacob from Nordica Photography with their superb team, took us all the way to Rome, the land of passion, grand piazzas and Renaissance buildings.
There is nothing more spectacular and unifying than a group of 450 talented creatives, sharing their stories and experiences, opening their hearts, laughing and getting emotional while they interact with like-minded individuals. Our team treats these moments as an invaluable chance to get to know our customers, find out what they love or struggle with, how they explore the world, what triggers their emotions and ideas, and most importantly – why do they do what they do?
As Jonas Peterson mentioned, photography is not about finding a voice, it’s about accepting the voice you already have and never undermining the importance of your voice over another more successful creative. This is exactly why our team feels the urge to be part of these events, in order to create a product which echoes and embraces each unique voice. You have to listen to it first and understand it.
It goes without saying that the speakers were the main challengers and concept instigators. Many secrets and techniques have been shared, photos and routines have been broken down and explained, but what affected each and single one of us the most were the personal stories. Countless times a crowd of nearly 500 people was silenced and carried deep into their own layers of consciousness as the speakers opened up about some of the darker, tougher moments in their lives, which shaped them and helped them grow. What we have learned from most of the speeches is that you always have two options: you can either approach wedding photography as just another source of income or accept the fact that you are a stranger who gets invited to be part of one of the most important and intimate moments in a couple’s life. If you’re in for the money, you are in for so many wrong reasons and are doomed to fail eventually. Wedding Photography is about realizing that each person you get to shoot has a life as vivid and complex as your own, with their own doubts, struggles but also successes and joy- and your job is to capture that.
Several topics that resurfaced throughout the conference that we feel are worth mentioning, are:
Get the Standard Important Moments before getting Creative
Davina & Daniel were amazing at pointing out the importance of getting those “boring & cliche” family and friends photos done, before you start getting creative and experimenting with the more unusual and cool ideas that you have in mind. This gives you leverage that you have at least covered all basics. Besides, as both Citlalli Rico and Jonas Peterson mentioned – you will be surprised to find out that the most important and favorite photos for your clients are not the “epic” ones that get you awards at photo contests, but rather the secret in-between moments with their mother or father, a look or a pinch from their significant other. So always be on guard, waiting for that special split of a second while capturing all the rest!
Be the Explorer Not the Discovery
As Brian Morrow from SharkPig mentioned you can’t just sit and wait until somebody comes and discovers you, even the muse won’t come if she thinks that you’re boring and lazy. You are the one in control. It is very easy to blame the surroundings – weather, location, dress, equipment for an average, not unique or mind-blowing set of images. Then you stumble upon a photo in that exact venue, with bad lighting or heavily pouring rain which leaves you astonished and speechless. So it’s not the surrounding, it’s rather your attitude and lack of homework. Almost all of the speakers stressed out the importance of preparation, arriving earlier if it’s a destination wedding to explore the location, spending time with your clients before the actual day, and no matter what – staying confident, as it keeps your subjects calm and reassured that all is going according to plan.
Additionally, there are tricks and techniques that you can use to spice up your images, such as the famous rings of fire and glass prisms used by Sam Hurd, freelancing that Oli Sansom has spoked about, shadows and green plants/leaves that Citlalli loves so much. There are no rules as long as you show the world an event through your own eyes. Because, remember, that’s why you were hired in the first place.
Listen, Understand then Capture
We will not go deep into describing how emotional and honest was Ryan Muirhead’s talk, but you can always go ahead and listen to his podcast for Way Up North. His speech was about being true to yourself and using photography as a gateway to express some of the internal feelings and struggles that you or your subject are going through. Photographers tell their stories through images, and the more stories and emotions one single photo can trigger, the more you want to stare at it and find out its real meaning.
And of course Jonas Peterson. He never stops to fascinate us with his unbelievable stories. Jonas keeps pointing out the simple life truths, that many of us overlook – the art of listening before speaking. So many heartwarming stories can be unveiled if you take some time and talk to your clients before proceeding to the shoot itself. Learn about their family, about the people they care the most, about the things that matter to them, about their losses and expectations. Their gratitude and complete trust will make it worthwhile.
We were incredibly excited to see our Flo clients on stage – Jonas Peterson and Citlalli Rico, and feel genuinely proud to have had the opportunity to work with them and contribute to their professional journey. We were also lucky to connect with participants who have worked or are interested in working with us and using our products and services. And while we cheered, gave standing ovations, shared delicious Italian meals and mesmerizing cups of coffee with all the wonderful attendees, we reminded ourselves of why we do what we do – to help others follow their passion, reach their professional goals and become better and happier individuals.
We congratulate the organizing team with the tremendous work and fascinating program that they’ve put together. Way Up North Rome left us all with questions and motivation to explore new challenges. While the Baroque style, cobbled boulevards, ruins of ancient times, warm red and orange facades, small doors to secret gardens and passages left our hearts overwhelmed with inspiration and Italian tradition. We can’t wait to see what WUN 2016 Stockholm has to bring! Can it get any better?
photo credit: Benj Haisch
And a small reminder for those who have attended Way Up North in Rome that we are offering a 20% discount on all our themes.