My storytelling! :)

Lately I have been overtaken by the constant chatter in the wedding industry about being bigger and better (whatever that means!) There are are tutorials on how to shoot details so that a wedding blog will publish it, conversations about who is making the most money and how many weddings they are photographing. And way to much jabber about how to grow your business to the max so that you can book 45 million weddings a year (ok…I exaggerate here! :) But you get the point.

I do believe that working on your brand and building a successful business that is honest and true is 100% legit. I do believe that understanding your client and how to reach a target market it important too….

But I believe that being a wedding photographer is WAAAY much more. I believe that people are missing the point. Isn’t it about our clients? Isn’t it about making memories and building relationships? Isn’t it about telling stories and bringing moments back to life? And bringing people back to life?

Can it be that simple? I really REALLY think it can!

These are 2 photos that were taken at our wedding. They are BY FAR my most favorite photos of the whole day. Please realize that these aren’t the most wildly creative photos of Aaron and I? They aren’t a high-styilized lighting technique nor a group of perfectly crafted photos? In fact the lighting is only so-so and their is plenty of distractions in the background that easily could have been cropped out if the photographer would have stood at a different angle. These photos could be so much better, but I don’t care! Why?Because they are 2 photos that tell a story of who my parents are. That my parents were easy-going and love each other. That they love to laugh and did’t mind laughing at their bad dancing skills. That they were happy and full of joy. Emotionally I love these photos. Little did I know that just months later my Mom would die of cancer and shortly later my Dad would be gone too. Boy, do these photos mean more to me after that. Don’t they? There isn’t a day that I don’t look at these photos and smile…a big smile. I cherish these photos. I will NEVER, ever not have them framed in my home! :)

These photos are proudly displayed in a place in our home that I walk past daily. They are a piece of art to me. I SEE my parents in them…not just a photo of them, but I see THEM! :) And I love these photos for it. Sure, it could have been crafted more intentionally…but I don’t mind. I really REALLY don’t! :)

And, unfortunately, I know of a few of my clients that have had the same realization. Members of their wedding party, family members, close relatives or friends are now only a memory in their wedding photos.

As AWESOME as it is to be featured on a wedding blog with hundreds of photos of the wedding details. And as sweet as it is to be recognized in the industry for one of the most creative shots of the bride and groom as they do something amazingly wild on their wedding day, that isn’t what will be framed and remembered on the client’s wall in years to come.

I believe that as a photographer is about relationships.

It’s about being┬átrusted with something as important as a wedding day. I am an artist. I am an artist that documents people and makes photographs reflecting their joy! My photos are for people and of people that will far outlive their life on earth. I am here to make artful moments stand out in a lifetime! My goal is to my photos of your memories to stand out as glowing art pieces on a wall that can bring a person’s life back to life! :)

After all, aren’t we all story-tellers in some way?

  • June 3, 2011 - 7:54 am

    Nicki - Beautiful post, and yes, I SO very much agree. Well said.

  • June 3, 2011 - 8:12 am

    Melissa Oholendt - I could not agree MORE. Fantastic post Em! LOVE YOU.

  • June 3, 2011 - 8:19 am

    Butch McCartney - What a great post Emily. Spot on.

  • June 3, 2011 - 8:21 am

    Kelsy McCartney - Wow, Emily! This post is perfectly composed. Nicely said, and I couldn’t possibly agree with you any more!! The moments is what it’s all about :) Hugs to you!

  • June 3, 2011 - 8:22 am

    Krissy - Great post Emily… I totally agree with you.

  • June 3, 2011 - 8:26 am

    emilysteffenphoto - Thanks McCartneys!!! It’s something that’s been on my heart for a long time and I 100% love and believe in this idea! :)

  • June 3, 2011 - 8:27 am

    Beau - thank you for sharing, love :)

  • June 3, 2011 - 8:32 am

    John Sharpe - I came across your post from Melissa and just had to tell you how much I enjoyed this! Thanks so much for sharing!

  • June 3, 2011 - 8:45 am

    Devin - Oh Em, you did it again. I love those pictures of your parents too. You truly hit the nail on the head. Just think how many people have similar feelings about the photos YOU took at THEIR wedding. I know I have plenty of photos you took at my wedding that I constantly look back on and think how lucky I am to have so much captured of that day and the people I love. Wedding photos are honestly one of the few things you have left after the day is said and done, besides the groom, and maybe your dress :) Thank you for all the moments you’ve documented of my life, and thanks for all you continue to capture for me and so many other people! I love you!

  • June 3, 2011 - 8:48 am

    Carly McCray - So true and so touching…I was tearing up reading this. What special photos of your parents! You never know what life will throw at you, and we do have that magical component to our jobs. Big hugs your way!

  • June 3, 2011 - 9:01 am

    Betsy - here here! Wonderfully said and well written.

  • June 3, 2011 - 9:02 am

    anda - emily — you are so right on. times a million. i love having you as a friend in this industry; you know what’s important and talking to you is always refreshing. xoxoxo.

  • June 3, 2011 - 9:06 am

    Bethany Petersen - Your parents are lovely. It is easy to get caught up in the business aspect… but on a wedding day, I am always thinking… this is the only time that this group of people will all be together at one place and it is a special thing and we need to capture these moments! Life is precious.

  • June 3, 2011 - 9:06 am

    Mindy - I so agree! You couldn’t have said this better! As a fellow photog, I just hate it when the focus is all on re-branding, blog comments, and getting published! It should be more about the clients, their photos and your relationship! I love that we get to tell the visual love story of strangers who become friends by the time their wedding comes around. That’s what it’s really about :) Great post. I LOVE LOVE LOVE those pictures of your parents too! What a sweet memory.

  • June 3, 2011 - 9:07 am

    Bethany Petersen - By the way, you are an amazing storyteller Emily!

  • June 3, 2011 - 9:22 am

    Elizabeth Anne - officially teary. Emily, this is one of the many reasons I love you. your heart. SO BIG, SO FULL, SO LOVING.
    and i also could not agree more.

  • June 3, 2011 - 9:40 am

    Salwa - Incredibly beautiful post, and a great reminder for all of us!

  • June 3, 2011 - 7:10 pm

    sydnee - looking forward to having you tell my story someday soon :) love and lots of hugs to you, Miss Em! xoxo.

  • June 6, 2011 - 12:33 pm

    Kirby {Colors of Honey} - you couldn’t have said it better. I am looking forward to capturing my ‘true’ family on my wedding day and the events surrounding it. I know the same will be for all of us and we will have to say goodbye to a loved one eventually and to have those photos of them will be the greatest gift. what a beautiful photo of your parents. <3

    xo Kirby

  • June 7, 2011 - 4:35 pm

    jessica - i absolutely agree!! so well said. thanks for this genuine reminder and perspective! it’s so easy to get caught up in the insane rat race that is the wedding photo industry!

    your parents look SO in love and happy! so glad you have these photos to remember them by!!

  • June 15, 2011 - 7:39 am

    Amy Paulson - Oh sweet Emily…I love this. And your heart. So beautiful…

  • June 15, 2011 - 7:42 am

    emilysteffenphoto - OH AMY! :) You are so sweet to me! :) THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!

  • June 25, 2011 - 10:19 am

    Amber Lianne White - Emily, darling, I love what you said here! I LOVE that story! :) It’s incredible! The story we can tell is the reason we should photograph. It may not make sense to the onlooker, but to the person being photographed… sometimes, the world. I love what you wrote about your parents! Thanks for being such an incredible example of taking the formal out of the wedding and telling the story! (haha… not that the posing and formality are completely gone… you get my point, I’m sure.) ;)

  • August 24, 2011 - 8:24 am

    Heidi - Em,
    That post was beautiful. Looking at the pictures and reading your words brought a tear to my eye. Your photos seem to always capture the true spirit of each client. No two sessions are ever the same, and that is what makes you a phenomenal photographer. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful and heartfelt post, and thank you for bringing light back on to the real reason photographs are so important: because at some point if done right, they are priceless because of the memories they hold. God bless.

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