We live in a time where photographers have the luxury to shoot as many photographs as they please. Many street photographers today find themselves constantly shooting, rarely pausing to observe and think about what it is that they’re photographing. It is the constant pursuit of being there at the right place and at the right time to capture the moment that keeps them always on the move. The rules don’t change when it comes to wedding photography as well. Except that wedding photographers have a larger responsibility, that is, of immortalizing someone’s big, special day.
Now imagine photographing a wedding using only film. It immediately slows down the process. But, it is not necessarily a bad thing. Jen Huang is one such photographer who has centered her wedding photography business around this very aspect, making her one of the most sought after artist in the field.
Film Is An Amazing Teacher
Jen’s interest in photography began early. “I grew up using my father’s medium format cameras,” she said. Gradually, as her love and interest in film cameras peaked, she found herself creating little still life sets at her home, comprising of various objects from around the house. It was the details of these objects that Jen was most enamored by, and this quality and pursuit has remained with her ever since.
Unlike most wedding photographers who are constantly on their tip toes, rushing around to capture the moment, Jen has a more reserved and calculated approach. “I realize that it takes time, money and effort to shoot film, all characteristics that push people away from it. However, for me, it has always been about the final image. My process is about creating the best photograph I possibly can in every situation, and to me, film has a quality that cannot be emulated in digital. Not only that, film is an amazing teacher. The philosophy behind film teaches me to be more thoughtful and careful… to create only meaningful images, and to plan each photograph in advance,” she says.
The Power To Create My Own Wedding Imagery
This attention to detail reflects in her work. Light and composition form the basis of her images. Her pictures have a certain softness to them. They’re simple too, reinforcing the idea that wedding photographs don’t necessarily have to be layered with several elements. She explains this further, “My style has developed over time, and continues to evolve. I remember my first wedding photographs being horrible! I think they were very contrived and inauthentic, and had nothing to do with my personal aesthetic. It was, I guess, just bad mimicry of poor wedding photography. Over time, as I gained experience and confidence, I realized that I had the power to create my own type of wedding imagery, to develop something that I truly felt was beautiful. I would describe my current style as being minimalist, light filled, painterly and romantic. But I feel that these words are quite broad. What I’m truly trying to achieve with each image is a simple, soulful rendition of a complicated form.”
Inspiration From Labels Of Wine At The Supermarket
There’s also an undeniably strong fashion aesthetic that surrounds her images. She mentions being inspired by classic fashion photography, Irving Penn and Rodney Smith being two of the figures whose work she admires. Her pictures also exude her strong design sensibility. To this she says, “I am very visual. I am always gleaning inspiration from everything I look at, even labels of wine at the supermarket.”.
Stay True To Basic Principles
For Jen, it has never been about following the latest trends in wedding photography. According to her, consistency and style come from a different place than trends. “You can have a consistent style and aesthetic for decades and still be relevant. If, however, you are following only trends, then you will be outpaced in a matter of months. And so, I always encourage photographers to stay true to basic principles that apply to all forms of art. It’s not about creating the same poses, but the same feelings for various couples,” she says.
Art Is The Heart, Business Is The Brain – Finding A Balance
One of her advice to wedding photographers is learning how to critique and curate their work, a practice that she diligently has followed over the years. “I am very critical about my photographs. Pictures that I think are “good” will not just have one quality that I love, but must have elements that work together cohesively, like the composition, light, color, clarity, content…” Jen also believes that irrespective of who you are or where you stand in your line of work, you should always be open to learning. “There is always scope for improvement. Nothing is perfect,” she says. And since wedding photography is a business at the end of the day, she also emphasizes that wedding photographers should spend an equal amount of time perfecting their business skills as they would with their art and technique. “I have heard of many photographers who are extremely talented artists, but suffer because they cannot separate their art from their business. Art is the heart, and business is the brain, both are necessary but function in different ways. Finding a balance is the key.”
Sometimes wedding photography can be a little frenzied and overwhelming to look at. In a way, by slowing herself down, Jen has presented her viewers with an opportunity to slow down as well, and to look and observe the delicate and intricately placed elements in her photographs.
Film Wedding Photographer – Jen Huang
Jen Huang is a film wedding photographer from the US. Jen will be in India for SILK INSPIRE 2017, and will give a seminar talk, and a masterclass. Book your ticket for the festival now, and come meet her in Person in Goa.