It's a brave new photographic world we're living and working in. Time was when a wedding shooter apprenticed for years before setting up his own shop, and drummed up work the "old-fashioned way": snail-mailing flyers, hitting expos and showcases, crossing his fingers and hoping for a bit of the old word of mouth.
In the 21st century, such techniques seem increasingly quaint.
These days, says Brook Todd, one half of the married
wedding-photography team Alisha & Brook Photography, "The
Internet is one of the most important tools a photographer can
Remember the days before the Internet? Brook and Alisha might not. At the ages of 26 and 23, respectively, they are as perfect an example as you'll find of how far the business of wedding photography has come in the past decade. Technology, the two say, is attracting a new kind of bride.
"I think a lot of times the bride is doing her planning at work, in front of the computer," says Alisha.
"People are on the Internet all the time now," Brook adds. "They're becoming more educated about what they're looking for."
Alisha continues, "Brides won't even meet the photographer anymore if there's no website. It's a way to check you out without getting stuck in an appointment with someone whose work they don't like." And just having any old site isn't good enough—Alisha and Brook actually hired a graphic artist to design theirs.
"A lot of photographers think they can do their own, and there are a lot of horrible ones out there," explains Brook. "Our clients tell us how much they loved our site, how easy it was to navigate. They tell us that when they found ours, they knew they just had to go with us."
LOVE ON THE INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY
And indeed, www.fineartweddings.com is sleek, stylish, and easy to maneuver. On a trip through its pages, a visitor moves fluidly from "Nicole and Henry's" plantation wedding in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to "April and Edward's" in Sonoma wine country, then gets peeks of the events from a scrolling thumbnail index.
In keeping with an increasingly popular trend in the weddings biz, there's little portraiture—muses Brook, "The more money we charge, the less they want family photos"—and a lot more docustyle B&W. Kodak T-Max P3200 and T400 CN are their B&W films of choice, with Kodak Portra 400VC and Portra 800 their preference for color work—loaded into their four Canon EOS-3s.
So, you'll find April giving Edward an impromptu hug from behind, a matrimonial toast with the bride half out of the frame and the groom out of focus, Nicole and Henry hurrying across late afternoon lawn, trailing their own shadows.
"We're always looking to get creatively stimulated," adds Alisha. "It helps to keep looking at things besides each other's work." A big influence is the movies. Says Brook, "Cinematography makes a huge difference in the way we shoot. It's so much more cutting edge, with tight shots and fewer panoramics." And then there's . . . MTV. "I can't get enough of The Real World." Brook's laughing, but serious. "A huge part of our success," he continues, "is that we haven't been shooting for 25 years."
In fact, Alisha covered her first wedding four years ago, on the spur of the moment. "My best friend was getting married and she threw her wedding together in four days. I thought it would be stressful," she remembers. "My dad has a close friend who's a wedding photographer and when I started getting into photography in high school he asked me, 'Are you going to do weddings?' And I said,'Oh, no, I would never do weddings.' But it was a lot of fun."
"It's a little freaky at first, but it's actually pretty easy," says Brook, who worked as a carpenter until a year and a half ago, when he quit to devote himself full-time to photography. Before that, on weekends he would assist Alisha, carrying her bags and "getting really bored." Finally, at one wedding, he picked up a camera, shot the remaining four exposures, and "totally forgot about it."
Weeks later, Alisha was putting together a portfolio to show the client and realized that one of the photos she'd included had been taken by Brook ("I was in the frame," she says). From then on, Brook would shoot an experimental roll at a wedding, then two, then four. Now, "We shoot about 50-50, 30 rolls a piece. I still wind up carrying stuff, though."