How showing to be imperfect can make you more authentic

This morning we had a wonderful engagement session with one of our 2015 wedding couples Susanne and Stefan. They had great ideas for their session and it was so much fun we didn’t even recognize how 2 hours were gone in just a blink. But though the time was running late we wanted to have a little coffee together in a cafe close by. We sat down in a cafe that was completely pink and had a wonderful biological „Apfelschorle“. We were talking like old friends about how they found their apartment and what they all did to get it and we laughed about their story.

I took a sip of my Apfelschorle and Susanne asked us „Did ever something go wrong on a wedding day, like braking a camera or losing cards.“ And there is was this question that friends would ask friends to laugh about it and just to here an entertaining story. Conrad’s and my eyes met as if we were asking the other one what to answer. In that minute I could have done two things: I could have told my clients that we never make any mistakes and that we are flawless photographers or I could tell those stories about what has happened to us and how we solved the problems and how our wedding clients never ever noticed any of the difficulties that we were facing due to technical problems, broken lenses or things we just simply forgot at home. I chose the second option, the honest option and the human option.

Here are my top three stories of things that went wrong on a wedding day and how we solved them

1. That one time on one wedding in 2009 when I still shot weddings alone I fell on a slippery ground and broke my 50mm lens. It happend right in the portrait session and the couple looked shocked at me. I pretended as if nothing happened and told them that luckily it was only that lens instead of my other lens (I only had two lenses back then) and I grabbed my 85mm 1.8 and shot the whole rest of the wedding day with only that lens. And they loved their images.

2. That one time when we forgot our 24mm lens at home because we used it that morning for a shot in our office. I just grabbed the 24mm TS-E lens and without tilting or shifting I shot all getting ready images and the big group shot of all guests with it. Yes indeed it doesn’t have an autofocus so you have to focus manually and it is only F 3.5 but those images are all part of the couples wedding album now and they never recognized that it was a kind of special lens I shot their day with.

3. That one time when we shot a wedding 800 km away from home and we forgot our shootsacs at home (those are the bags we carry our lenses in on the wedding day). Well I must admit I was shocked when I opened the trunk of the car and couldn’t find them to remember them standing next to our entrance door. What we did? We improvised and just used our lowepro camera bags where we transport our gear in. It was maybe not so comfortable than a shootsac but we managed to photograph a beautiful wedding day.

Since then we always have a checklist with all our gear, our clothes for the wedding day and every other accessory that we need for a wedding day that we always check before we leave the house. Hard lesson learned. 

The thing is when we present ourselves as flawless and perfect wouldn’t people just think we are hiding something in contrast to just telling the truth. We are all just humans and in our industry of portrait and wedding photographers there is a constant pressure of being perfect, creating the perfect portrait, finding the perfect light. I think showing others that you are human and humans make mistakes or forget things and naming in the same breath the solutions you found to prevent these things from happening again will get you a lot more sympathy than trying to pretend to be perfect.

It is a thin line between being authentic and presenting yourself as being not reliable but I would always choose to be human above pretending to be perfect.

Here is a tiny sneak preview of the engagement session with Susanne and Stefan this morning.

verlobungshooting muenster aasee hochzeit fotografie paar jennifer hejna_0001