A friend recently emailed me a link to a wedding photographer’s blog. Some of the work there was good, but I didn’t add it add the site to the blogroll here because most of it was what I am going to call “shouty photography”. The photographer had an excellent eye for composition and for an unusual viewpoint, but there was a lot of check-out-my-new-lens wide-angle/fish-eye stuff and every frame was Photoshopped to Hell: the colours were over-saturated, the brightness and contrast were cranked up, and I suspect that all sorts of background clutter had been removed by computer. (Given the intensity of the flash lighting used and the quality of those shadows that remained in the images, I am sure that others had been cloned out.) And of course, he’d been painting that artificial blur all over the place as only a man with a digital camera and the vaguest idea about aperture settings can.
I’m sure he doesn’t need the help of a link from me. His is a style that probably grabs clients immediately. I am happy to recommend other photographers with different approaches from mine, but I would never recommend one like him. Shouty photography reminds me of the extremely stylised, self-proclaimed “new generation portraiture” of Venture, the high street family photographer. It’s expensive (to buy, if not to do), it’s manipulative (in more than one sense of that word), it’s fake, and it’s about images and not about people.
When you browse a wedding photographer’s portfolio, you should be smiling at the moments captured, not thinking: “I wonder how he got that angle/effect/pose?” All photography dates, but the worst thing about this kind of work is that it’s dated the moment you get the prints. Today’s new generation is tomorrow’s old generation. In a few months time, every domestic camera owner will be using their home PC and some knocked-off digital photo software to create the same or similar effects in the hope of spicing up their own grey snaps.
Then the game will be up. Ten years hence, photos that have been treated this way will be the still equivalent of those psychedelic visuals you see on old editions of Top Of The Pops. If you are looking for a wedding photographer and one sidles up to you with an album that, the moment he opens it, screams “look at me!” then block your ears. When you’re 64, you’ll be glad you did.