Mark Bohland from Maranatha Photography shared his philosophy of wedding photography with THE North Central Ohio Bride.
TNCOB: How did you get into wedding photography?
Mark: It really was one of those horror stories you hear about. I was just learning about my camera when my sister got married, and I asked her if I could follow her photographer around. She was blunt, “Yah, but don’t get in his way.” As it turned out my sister decided to have a “friend” photograph her wedding, rather than hiring a professional. – No contract – No nothing… literally – A few minutes before she was to walk down the aisle, she found out that her “friend” had found something better to do that Saturday, and wouldn’t be “coming to her wedding.” I got into wedding photography instantly.
TNCOB: How did it turn out.
Mark: Actually pretty well. The best thing that happened for me professionally, was that I learned how to create all of those posed pictures in front of the altar, or gazebo, or wherever, in a very limited time. Food was going to be served in less than an hour – we did the pictures in 40 minutes, and that’s still my goal today.
TNCOB: Wasn’t that pretty stressful?
Mark: Well, yes, all weddings are stressful. If an amateur photographer messes up his or her friend’s senior portraits, they just go back out next week and do them a gain. Everybody has fun until the photographer gets something acceptable. Acceptable just isn’t good enough for a Wedding, and you can’t go back next week to fix your mistakes. Many excellent professional photographers just won’t accept wedding clients because of the stress. Some of us – maybe the ones who are a bit eccentric – actually enjoy high pressure situations, and channel the energy from them, to help us create our best work.
TNCOB: What about the time factor? How long is OK to keep a wedding party for posed pictures?
Mark: That’s a bit of a balancing act. Brides and their families WILL want lots of family and other group pictures, but if getting those pictures keeps them from their guests for to long…. well that’s just rude, and no professional photographer I know wants to be rude to anyone.
TNCOB: So, what do you do?
Mark: How *I* or any other photographer handles group pictures is less important than that a bride KNOWS how they are going to be handled and agrees before retaining her photographer. I have a method – the same one that kept my sister happy – to photograph family groups and the wedding party in about 10-15 minutes, and get them to their guests quickly. I spend another 10 minutes photographing the whole wedding party, which leaves me 20-25 minutes with the bride and groom alone.
Other photographers may take more or less time, but the keys to a smooth day – not just the time of group pictures – are first, that the photographer knows what to do when, and how much time to dedicate to each part of the day, and second, that a wedding couple must know ahead of time what to expect and be comfortable with it, before hiring someone.
TNCOB: Doesn’t having that sort of timetable make every wedding look the same?
Mark: Well it could. In fact there are some things that do happen at almost every wedding… a bride gets ready – she walks in – she gets married – a couple walks out – they pose for pictures – they have a party.
TNCOB: That sounds like cookie cutter photography.
Mark: It would be, if a bride’s photographer doesn’t get to know her and her fiance’ very well. Knowing and being able to show intimate relationships.
The professional gets to know special things about the couple:
A bride’s stepfather IS her father – A groom’s grandfather taught him to fish – The bride & groom’s dogs ARE their family – The photographer has spent enough time with the couple to get to know “that special look” one gives to the other
All these little things allow a photographer to create an album that goes *beyond* an important record of what happened, and tell a story of *who* it really was that got married, and how they *felt* that day.
TNCOB: That’s not going to happen in just group pictures. You’re known for more creative or artistic pictures of the bride and groom. How does that happen.
Mark: Well, that comes down to communication too. Some people don’t really want much more than a snapshot record of what happened, and others aren’t willing or able to commit the extra time to create something that is especially them, and that’s OK. I may not be the best fit for them, but if they communicate well with photographers, they *will* find someone who is perfect for them.
Most of my brides are young college educated professionals, who have a sense of style that they can communicate to me, and that they expect me to translate into images and albums that are are as unique as they are.
TNCOB: You’ve mentioned albums twice. Doesn’t everyone just want their pictures on a disk or flash drive?
Mark: Everyone *should* have their images on some sort of media for backup and protection. That’s just common sense. But it is not sensible to think (especially after a time or two) that a bride and groom are going to sit down on their anniversary, or with their children and look at wedding pictures on a tablet or a phone. And when it is time to share with their grandchildren….. we hope they won’t have made the same mistake with JPEG files on a flash drive, that some of their grandparents made , by trusting their wedding to Betamax cassette tapes.
Brides are beginning to realize that as cool as new technology is, it no only becomes obsolete, it’s not right for everything. A bride could have just streamed her wedding live from a dress shop…. but she didn’t.
The pendulum is swinging back and brides are realizing that being able to look at their grandparents wedding album is important. A well designed album will distill several hundred images into a custom design and layout of several dozen images that everyone wants to see. Sometimes ten or fifteen dozen images are presented in a two volume set – one of stunning portraits and emotional family pictures, and the other a photo-journalistic story of the day.
An album created by someone who can tell a bride’s visual story is (and will be to her children & grandchildren) a family heirloom; I know my parent’s album is treasured by my sister and me.
TNCOB: You’ve won some pretty impressive awards for your wedding photography and albums haven’t you?
Mark: Well, yes – thank you, but awards are about the past and really have as much to do with great clients, who are committed to getting something special, as they are to a photographer who is able to translate their vision into a finished image or album.
TNCOB: What final advice can your share with our brides?
Mark: Based on our years of experience, brides ask me a lot of questions about planning a wedding, but if we’re just talking about photography, I’d say the three biggest things I can share are the importance of communication… time commitment… and story-telling.
Communicate with your photographer verbally and visually: Your sense of style; The mood you want to create. Describe your wedding to your photographer in three words… really. That is a personal exercise that will help you tremendously with all of your artistic vendors, not just your photographer. Who, at the wedding has a special place in your heart – in your fiance’s heart? What do you want – what don’t you want? The more time you invest in communicating with your photographer, the more your images and albums will be about *you*, and *your* wedding.
Commit and plan the time necessary to create your dream album. That may mean starting a half hour earlier than you first planned. It might mean excusing yourselves from your guests a few minutes before an amazing sunset. It might mean going somewhere special for an hour or two with your photographer on Sunday or Monday, before a tux is returned and you leave for your honeymoon.
Communication and time commitment, are the basic ingredients that allow a story-teller to crate the album that will allow you to relive and share the most important parts of your day, and the most dramatic images of you and your new husband, with anyone, anywhere, any time.
THE North Central Ohio Bride thanks Mark Bohland for his insights with our brides.
Mark is available to consult with engaged couples about their vision for wedding photography and albums.
You can learn more about Mark and Maranatha Photography at MPhoto.com.