I want to start by affirming my love for Pinterest. My addiction to Pinterest. The sharing of ideas, DIYs, recipes, and all sorts of inspiration is, well, inspiring. If nothing else, Pinterest is just plain fun.
As with any new technology, though, Pinterest is not without a few glitches or hiccups. There are all kinds of accusations and outcries about copyright infringement and the like. Proper attribution of images on Pinterest really serves us all: it means that if you find, for example, a photo of a gorgeous wedding dress via Pinterest, proper linking means you can track down the origin of the image and, ideally, also find the name of the designer and where to purchase the dress if you want it for yourself.
I’ve created shared Pinterest boards with couples who have booked Anna Delores Photography for their wedding, with the aim of sharing ideas and getting some insight from them on what they’re looking for from their final collection of wedding photos. I thought that was pretty clever of me.
Then? I started to see the same images popping up over and over, not just on those shared boards I created or contributed to, but pretty much any wedding-related search on Pinterest.
Those images above were two of my favorites right off the bat! And they still are, except at this point I’ve seen them too many places with the caption “must-have wedding photo” or “we have to get a shot like this.”
The thing about both of these photographs, along with so many others, is that they are spontaneous images captured in the moment. I have no doubt that these images are incredibly special to the people depicted in them, but that’s because they represent the genuine spirit of their respective wedding days.
Let’s take the image on the left (by Emily Blake) as our “case study,” the photograph of the triumphant groom during the first kiss as a married couple. You can’t stage that. Sure, it’s possible the groom had some forethought about striking his fist into the air, but I seriously doubt that he told the photographer or anyone else (except maybe the best man or something) about it ahead of time. If, after seeing this image, you think, “ooh, I want to recreate that exact shot during our wedding,” there are two points to consider: (1) you will remember the effort it took to stage the shot instead of remembering the fun and excitement of something like this actually happening, and (2) your wedding is now no longer unique to you as a couple. And if your groom isn’t the kind of guy who would naturally punch the air while he’s kissing you, it’s going to look fake, too.
Almost every time I’ve tried to replicate an image that I saw somewhere else first, it’s unsuccessful. Or cheesy. Or both. I would much rather refrain from awkward posing and instead let you be yourselves. And if I’m preoccupied with recreating a photo that you saw somewhere on Pinterest, it’s likely I’ll miss the more authentic, candid moments that are an organic component of your wedding day.
I’m not saying I have no ideas to contribute for fear of “copying” someone else. I have a few tried-and-true basics that have worked for me in the past, so if I get stuck, or the bride and groom simply don’t know what do with themselves, I have something to fall back on. But more often than not, I just go with it. Most of the time, the couple will guide me in creating natural, genuine, sweet images that are equal parts lovely, frame-worthy, and uniquely special to them.
It comes down to understanding the difference between inspiration and replication. I am inspired by many other wedding and fine art photographers, but I do not want to copy what they’re doing. As Aimee Grover so eloquently states in this article, “sometimes, the most amazing photographs happen by chance and can’t be re-created. Unpredictability is one of the things [that is] most inspiring and exciting about photography.”
Be yourselves. If you’re confident in your photographer’s abilities and approach, your photos will reflect the organic flow of your unique wedding day as it unfolds, and not how it’s staged.
This whole topic really came full-circle for me recently. I photographed an engagement session last week, and I received the following e-mail from the bride:
“I’ve been trying to add you to my photography board on Pinterest but it’s not letting me. Anyway, I just want you to see what I’m hoping for you to capture both on Monday as well as the wedding. Thanks again!”
Before I even had a chance to reply (and I was genuinely interested to look at her Pinterest board and just get excited for our session!), she e-mailed me again:
“On second thought, I just read an article and it reminded me of why I hired you to be the photographer for our wedding. Sure, there may be a few ideas I like and I may just send them to you or show you on Monday, but overall I trust you enough to know that you’ll capture what it is we are looking for and give us photographs that we are going to love forever and ever. I think you’re going to be wonderful to work with!”
That second e-mail gave me a tremendous sense of validation and affirmed that I’m doing something right, that my photographic style is something to be coveted and that my talents are not about the imitation of photos on Pinterest.
I’ll say it again: I love Pinterest. I will not be abandoning Pinterest anytime soon. I love it for personal entertainment and for promotion of my business. And I think it’s okay to use Pinterest as a source for wedding ideas and inspiration; it really has revolutionized the way weddings are planned. But my advice would be to stay true to who you are as a couple so that you can look back fondly on your wedding day as a celebration of your individual style. If you’re preoccupied with finding the latest wedding trends and trying a bunch of exciting ideas you’ve seen on Pinterest, your wedding likely won’t be a true reflection of you and your spouse-to-be. Let your personalities influence your big day and it’ll be a much more authentic experience that you’ll look back on with no regrets.