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How Pinterest Can Discourage the Creative Process for Photographers

pinterest

It’s incredible how Pinterest has taken the wedding industry by storm. My husband and I have always been, and still are, big supporters of Pinterest. It has been such an incredible tool for our business and has helped so many brides find our work. It can be a great place for brides to gather wedding ideas, color schemes, flowers they love, etc. It wasn’t until recently though, have we started seeing the negative affects of Pinterest on wedding photography.

Pinterest can discourage the creative process.

As photographers, the images we create are like one-of-a-kind art. There are so many aspects that go into composing a photograph, most importantly the lighting, environment and the subjects. Sometimes, the most amazing photographs happen by chance and can’t be re-created. Unpredictability is one of the things we find most inspiring and exciting about photography. We love when we are able to blow our couples away, and give them images that are better than anything they could have ever dreamed up or expected. We are able to create these images when we are given time, complete trust and artistic freedom.

A few times this past year, we have had brides send us Pinterest boards of photo inspiration for their wedding day. We whole-heartedly believe that it comes from a place of sheer excitement for their big day…and that they are just trying to be proactive in sharing what they like.

Even though we know that they have the best intentions, as we scroll through the photos, we can’t help but initially feel discouraged. Brides are pinning the BEST of the BEST photos (from an already curated body of work) from hundreds of different weddings. I think it leaves us wondering: Did they hire us because they like our style? How are we going to be able to meet/exceed their expectations?

My recent struggle with Pinterest lead me to research other people’s thoughts on the topic. One of the most compelling articles I read said something really profound: “Pinterest is not a source of inspiration, it’s a collection of completed ideas“ (The Problem With Pinterest). Such an interesting thought. Is that why as artists we can sometimes feel discouraged by Pinterest instead of inspired?

It may appear simple, but there are a lot of things that make up a good photograph.

As photographers, We see photos in a very unique way. We notice the lighting, coloring, the location, time of day, the natural elements (wind, sun flare, fog), the posing, the height of the couple, etc. We know from experience that ALL of these aspects are what create the mood & feel of that particular photo. One of the best examples that comes to mind is this photo by Amelia Lyon. We have seen it on just about everybody’s Pinterest board, heck, it’s probably on one of ours somewhere too. It is SO stunning.

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Notice how the wind is sweeping her hair just right, how it’s the perfect time of day, how she has a subtle passionate look on her face, how he is just the right height to be kissing her forehead, how beautiful the jewels on her sleeved dress look.

Wow. It really is one-of-a-kind and that’s what makes it so special!

Another photo I have seen appear time and time again on Pinterest is this getting ready shot by Becker. This is an insanely beautiful bride, but I think there’s something else about this photo that so many brides are drawn to. She looks so cool, calm and collected oh her big day…like she has actually has the time to sit and “smell the roses.”

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Notice how her hair and makeup are finished early, her bouquet arrived timely to her suite, how the room is spotless, the bed is made, the bedding is simple and beautifully accents her cute robe, how flattering her legs look resting on the perfectly placed bed frame, how just the right amount of light is seeping in, how her bouquet is rounded allowing us to see her beautiful face.

The fact that all of these elements aligned for this Cinderella bride is pretty amazing…and that is what makes it nearly impossible to duplicate – especially on a wedding day when time is not on your side.

When our focus is on recreating, we aren’t able to truly create.

Knowing how important all of the elements are that go into a photograph are what make us feel discouraged when presented with a Pinterest board of inspiration. We jump into problem solving mode…how are we going to create that wind swept beach photo in a hotel garden setting? How are we going to shoot that epic bridal portrait in a messy and chaotic bridal suite? How are we going to serve our clients, but still do our best work?

Recreating someone else’s photo takes a lot of time to stage correctly. When time is something we are always working against, that time that could be better spent creating something unique. We photographed a wedding this past year in which we spent so much time trying to please the bride, and fulfill her Pinterest “must haves,” that we never had the opportunity to really shine and do our best work.

In the end, the photos were beautiful, but we didn’t feel like they represented our style, or who we are as artists. We want to feel proud of the photos we create for brides and grooms.

So, if you want to get the most out of your wedding photos, here are a few tips for brides:

  1. Use Pinterest early on in your planning process to pin photos that you like & are attracted to. Then, use your board to help determine what style you are drawn to and find a photographer consistent with that style. Once you’ve chosen your photographer, give them your trust & support to capture your big day.
  2. Remember your wedding is about you and your day. You want to look back at your photos and feel like they are the best representations of who you are….not just an okay rendition of a photo you saw on Pinterest. Give your photographer the green light to choose poses and locations that flatter you and your wedding aesthetic.
  3. Be realistic about how you will be feeling on your wedding day. In the past, we’ve had brides come to us with lofty photo ideas, such as traveling all around a city or walking down steep paths to the beach on a hot summers day. Once they are all dressed up, reality sets in. Their dress is heavy and stiff, the tulle is itchy, their shoes aren’t comfortable, the humidity is ruining their hair, there are tourists in bathing suits everywhere. Somehow this seemed like a much better idea their mind. If you want to be comfortable and portable on your big day, wear a dress and shoes that allow you to do that. This past bride of ours, Kelly, really got the most out of her photographs because she wore a simple dress that was easy to move around in and made it effortless to look natural in poses.

San-Diego-Botanic-Gardens-Wedding-20

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As photographers, we would rather be spending the precious time we have on a wedding day experimenting with a couple and figuring out how they work together in poses that feel really natural. We also want to be inspired by the surroundings we’re in and be able create new one-of-a-kind shots. In no way is this post meant to offend any brides out there, it’s really just to share a photographer’s perspective and thoughts on the topic. As much as you want to have incredible photos and memories…we want to take an active part in creating them.


About the author: Aimee Grover and her husband Troy are professional wedding photographers and the owners of Troy Grover Photographers. They are based in Orange County, California. You can find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. This article originally appeared here.


 
  • Ken Elliott

    Excellent article. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and tips.

  • Julie

    Very good article that says a lot about the over idealised aspirations of pinners.If your photos are the ones at the bottom of this artice ,I think they are great and very natural.You have to make the most of the ‘couple’ you have and not all images would suit all couples!

  • BrokenHelix79

    Pinterest is having a big influence not just on wedding photography but other niches like graduate and food photography. I recently worked with the owner of a local restaurant who emailed me samples of food photography he had found on Pinterest and asked if I could replicate the style for his featured menu dishes. I asked if he wanted me to use them as inspiration or if he simply wanted a direct copy, and he replied “Sure, just copy them”. In the end, I used natural light instead of studio light and composed lower to the table and he was very happy with the results, even though they didn’t really resemble the images he’d found on Pinterest.

    I think, as the author of this article said, most people get caught up in the excitement of whatever they’re looking forward to, whether it’s a wedding or the unveiling of a new menu, and they ultimately want the photographer to bring their own vision to the work.

    If the end result is beautiful and captures the couple or the food or the family or the car or WHATEVER in a pleasing and creative way, it doesn’t matter how closely you hewed to the templates clients throw at you.

  • luke

    et cetera is abbreviated ‘etc.’ not ‘ect.’

  • Devilsh

    Interesting article. The good news is, in its own way, Pinterest is adding value to wedding photography by showing what great photographers can accomplish. It increases the need for hiring good professional photographers which drives the market value UP for skilled pros. In this “race to the bottom” economy of photography, this is a very very good thing.

  • Sean Walsh

    Great article… I’ve been on the receiving end of a number of Pinterest posts from brides, including the Becker shot!! I appreciate a client’s enthusiasm, but in this digital age, people are forgetting that there’s a level of creativity that comes in the moment and won’t ever be duplicated again.

  • http://www.shinyphoto.co.uk/ Tim

    For all that `as photographers’ we spot qualities in a photo, so do the unwashed as well, and videographers consider images’ qualities at 25fps or more too. There’s an aspect of Pinterest that’s simply keeping standards high amongst those who make a business out of wedding photography; go on, be daring, tell prospects `You do know it will look different? It’ll have you in instead, for starters’.

  • http://www.jc-ruiz.com/ JC Ruiz

    Great article. I do feel a bit inadequate when clients send photos from Pinterest and say they want a shot like this etc. I think Pinterest is a great place as well for inspiration etc. In a way it is a gift and a curse

  • http://www.intensitystudios.com/ Antonio Carrasco

    Huh… I don’t do weddings, but in commercial or fashion shooting the client or team almost always put together a collection of concept photos. It is called a mood board and it help make sure everyone is on the same page.

  • Thomas Casey

    The trouble with brides is that they just copy each other, a case of the tail wagging the dog.

  • Kellie Jones

    I think what many people may fail to understand is that some photos are staged.. using models, resulting in the best makeup, hair, no harried looks, no stress… and that fresh made bed. I would have to ask someone who presented me with a wedding photo from another photographer, if they want to a memory of their day or a mimic of someone else’s.

  • aman

    My last wedding was moore or less a collection of pinterest pictures, which i got in an email. She got what she wished for, but in the end, I don’t feel that it was really a wedding i covered, i was just the button pusher. The groom knew this and crcked a few jokes about it. Tomorrow I’m shooting a wedding in which the couple more or less told just to do whatever it is that I do. It’s going to rain, and the only suggestion for a picture i got, ws from bride who texted me that she would like a picture with flip-flops. Love it, will have fun with it.

  • the truth

    NO wedding photographers are producing “one-of-a-kind-art”.

    All the shots illustrated above are quite cookie cutter in fact…you can see nearly identical ones on any photogs portfolio. Same poses and photoshop effects taught in every workshop everywhere.

    Finally, after shooting weddings for 8 years, I can see no “Art” in wedding photography, the word is used for marketing purposes.

  • Alicia

    Some really great points overall, but I think as photographers we simply need to make it clear that Pinterest is amazing for inspiration purposes. I am adding a clause in my wedding contract that stipulates that if they send me example photos or a Pinterest board, I will use that to get a feel for the couple’s style as opposed to trying to replicate the images.

  • hamishNIVENPhoto

    and also the fact that 90% of the shots on Pinterest are actually “perfect models”, shot with plenty of time and more lighting and styling and patience than is possible within the context of a wedding shoot

  • Betsy Barron

    great article – and don’t forget that a lot of what you see on Pinterest is STAGED, STYLED, PROFESSIONALLY LIT and the ‘bride and ‘groom’ are MODELS b/c it most likely was shot for a magazine. That is what is most challenging to explain to clients — sometimes what you see did not actually occur on a time-pressed, emotionally charged, schedule-confined wedding day. I offer shoots after the wedding for just that kind of ‘perfect’ scenario.

  • dh

    Thank you SO much for sharing this article. We’ve had some of that lately too and this article was perfectly timed. Thank you!!

  • jkantor267

    Today’s wedding photography is the most cliched, vacuous photography there is. Look at 10, 100, or 1000 wedding photographers (only a tiny fraction of the total number) and you’ll see exactly the same imagery. Newlyweds might as well just save their money and buy cheap stock photos for their album.

  • Jude I⚡caяiot

    That’s fine. The problem here is that people are sending the absolute top of the line stuff in, and hoping they will get the exact same results from anybody they hire.

  • Robin Pollard Haws

    This is the best photography related article I’ve ever read. It echoes sentiments I’ve been expressing for quite some time and I will definitely be quoting some of this to my customers!

  • WretchedExcess

    I am sick
    and tired of these articles that complain about Pinterest. Creatives have been
    borrowing ideas from all and sundry for eons. Every artist, poet, writer,
    milliner, cook, and dog breeder have tweaked and borrowed and stolen from time
    immemorial. Give it a rest, folks. Nothing is different here and if you are too
    overwhelmed with trying to compete, get out of the creative business now.

  • Rachel Anne

    i wish i had a photographer that wasn’t just a run of the mill “stock” one.. they just weren’t available at the time… i would have loved even 1/3 of the creativity seen in photos now…

  • Jason Raymond Watson

    I think the anger at Pinterest here is misdirected, you should be angry and frustrated with how stupid and uncreative people are. People hire an artist to do a job, but then they want you all to copy someone elses work? That isn’t Pinterests fault, it is the ignorant public’s fault, and if the photographer does it, they are not a real artist IMO. A real artist doesn’t steal someones creative work. I am a comedian, and this is the equivalent of someone hiring me and saying “hey I saw this funny Carlin bit, do that on stage.”

  • Dressy Girl Kouture

    good post, thanks for the tips – will definitely share with our brides and prom goers.

  • upzmtn

    I think the the issue here is simply a misunderstanding of the creative process itself. Likely the bride and groom are not aware (unless that are professional creatives themselves) but I think the idea of a Mood Board, used heavily in most creative industries – esp. advertising) is being overlooked here. I don’t shoot weddings (unless asked), but I use pinterest extensively when working on conceptual photography. The idea is to understand that the take away is not any single image, but the mood and feel of the images as a whole. It’s right that the bride and groom should be doing this on their own, and then choosing someone that fits their style. The mood board should be used this way, to find clarity and consistency in what you like. If you “know” what you want, yet can’t put it into words, you should do a mood board. Once you’ve collected 20-30 photos you like, you’ll see a consistent theme and can begin to articulate the things that appeal to you in an image. It’s the photographer’s job to convey this understanding of the tool, and to set realistic expectations. Let’s not slag a great tool because it’s being used wrong. Let’s educate our clients about how best to use it and we’ll all win in the end.

  • dodono

    I am sure that you got into photography because you believed it would provide an outlet for your creativity, so I can understand your frustration at feeling you are being pushed into attempting merely to copy other photographers’ work–and often, at that, to reproduce photos that have been staged with professional models, that it would be impossible to come close to replicating. Ideally, the couple would have researched your work and felt an affinity for your individual style before considering you; you would establish a rapport based both on your understanding of the couple’s unique sensibilities, situation, and preferences, and their understanding of what can reasonably be expected of you; and, based on this mutual understanding, you would be given carte blanche to proceed as you see fit–with the resulting photographs fulfilling both the bride’s and groom’s dreams of a beautiful remembrance of their special day and your artistic aspirations. Well, wake up and smell the bridal bouquet–this is the real world, not the Hallmark channel, and you are dealing with people facing an extremely significant–hence extremely stressful–milestone, and–although I do not know your rates–presumably paying out a fair chunk of change for your services. That word, SERVICES, is key–you are being paid for fulfilling your customers’ needs to the best of your ability. If your primary aim is unfettered artistic expression, go into fine art photography; as a wedding photographer, your focus should be the bridal couple’s dreams, not your own. If you are talented, sensitive, and thoroughly professional, you may approach that ideal scenario described above, perhaps even in the majority of cases–but not every client has reasonable expectations; it is your job in the initial consultations to educate your clients as to what you can, and cannot, provide. To that end, be grateful for all those Pinterest boards, however unrealistic: the more specifically the clients’ hopes can be “pinned down”, the better they can be addressed in the preliminary planning, and the less chance of misunderstandings leading to disappointment for both you and your clients. The valid points you made above can be outlined at that time–and if you encounter what seems to be stubborn resistance, you can always (gulp) say, “Best wishes to you, but I think perhaps another photographer would better meet your needs.” But once you accept that job, please remember that it really needs to be all about the bridal couple’s needs and wishes, NOT your aspirations to “art”! Only then can that almost magical synergy occur which allows you to capture the day in a uniquely beautiful way,

  • Sarge912

    People want what they want. If you aren’t willing to provide what they are asking for, don’t take the gig. Some clients will look at the body of your work and be happy that it is just one more thing that they don’t have to plan out, others want to be the art director. Charge accordingly. The digital age is what it is. You can’t put the egg back into the shell.

  • https://twitter.com/adamhowardcross Adam Cross

    but when you have people wanting to recreate other photographers work exactly how they see it on Pinterest, it can become a problem

  • Damien Lovegrove

    Well written article. Thank you for your thoughts. One post I put on my blog has had pictures repinned over 465,000 times on Pinterest. The words ‘poses’ and ‘couples’ must be triggers. The demand for inspiration from wedding photographers and brides is staggering.

  • http://www.intensitystudios.com/ Antonio Carrasco

    Yeah, that is true. Sometimes models (or brides) want you to copy someone else’s work down to every detail. I always tell them they should hire that photographer if they want that photographer’s style.

  • Jessica

    I was guilty of this as a bride, and now that I am a photographer as well. I definitely agree :)

  • Cathleen Warren

    Really excellent article. I once had a bride who sent me 40-50 shots that she just had to have on her wedding day (which was at a very nice golf course). The shots were beautiful, but the couples were posed generally normal. What made the photos amazing were the backdrops – the Eiffel Tower, a cliff by an ocean, an apple orchard in full bloom, the list goes on. Finally, there were 15 shots in the water, on a beach, and on a horse. Very excited, I contacted the bride asking if she wanted a trash the dress. She did not, just wanted me to capture these photos on her day. In the end, she loved her photos and I received a gushing thank you card, but they were all taken in Wisconsin. Not on a cliff, by the Eiffel Tower, or in a mountain lake. I was lucky that she saw the difference.

  • Darlene McCowan

    Aimee…it’s as if you were inside my head and reading my mind! Being a photographer myself, I have had all of the same thoughts that you have written here and I want to thank you for sharing this with your readers and the world. A big high five right atcha girl! Thank you!!! :)

  • Kirk Bruner

    Um……er……..uh……you know…..(sigh)…..there’s also the fact that the PEOPLE in these particular photographs are………well………really BEAUTIFUL! Sorry. I mean, nobody was mentioning it and it seems to me to be the elephant in the room. (Hope I didn’t hurt anybody’s feelings.) When clients are asking to “do this” are they being realistic? OK, so sue me.

  • Robin Pollard Haws

    Completely agree!

  • Shawna

    This is a FANTASTIC article. It’s so appreciated…I’m a childrens and newborn photographer and the same rules apply. (although I do have time on my side, that wedding photographers do not)

  • atagirl

    Most excellent explanation! Bravo. I recently “overheard” a conversation on Facebook wherein a photographer actually suggested the bride pick out her favorite poses from Pinterest. I think both should read your article.

  • John Armstrong-Millar

    It’s a good point. The question I find I am asking my brides this year is. Are you sure you really want someone else’s wedding photographs. Wouldn’t you rather have your own?. You know that special look he gives you or those wonderful little details that you have put so much effort into.. People looking for aspirational images forget that real people are just so much more interesting

  • Happily Ever After Raleigh

    Although I agree with this there is also another side. I have seen way too many brides (my daughter for one) NOT get any detail shots to capture her day and you can NOT get that day back. I know that the photographers are the artist, and they are there to use their gifts and skills to capture the perfect day for the bride. But, the bride is also scared that the shots she wants won’t make it. There has to be a happy medium here. When I am working with my brides, I always tell them to go to the photographers website and look at their albums from past weddings or ask them to show you some. And if after you viewed then you are saying “wow” or “I want to be at that wedding” then they are capturing what means most to you. Brides are pretty smart and we have to give them more credit than we do, they will know by looking at your work if it’s just not what they are looking for. That’s what I love about photographers, there are so many good ones out there and the pictures some take are just amazing as I always wish I had an eye like they do. But that’s why I’m the planner and I “plan” and I let the photographers do what they do best and together we give the bride the best day possible.

  • Rona

    I agree – I love getting ideas from others, but, when the client comes in and says I want all of these poses from pinterest, I just cringe. I would love to be able to put my own spin, but, there were two of them that wanted those exact poses! Not 100% possible! I do look to Pinterest for some ideas, so that is good, it is just the clients need to know that to be unique is so much better!! In fact upcoming wedding, and I have so many great ideas, along with “standard” type wedding photos, based on this specific location, the bride pointed out some very specific pinterest wedding photos that she wants to ‘recreate’. I will work with her, since that is what she wants, I just hope to point out some slight changes we can make to make them her’s alone!