One of our EAGER photographers specialises in wedding photography. With a rather unusual approach: Jacqueline Dersjant creates a journalistic impression of a wedding day. No standard photos and people posing for the pictures. She captures the emotion of everything (!) happening during this special day. And you have the chance to find out what her secrets are during the Shootinq Fearless Workshop on September 4th and 5th in Amsterdam. We interviewed Jacqueline about her work and this special workshop.
Why did you become a wedding photographer?
Shortly after my graduation at the Photo Academy Amsterdam I joined a community that would help me get more assignments. One of the members asked me to photograph his wedding. Well, at the Photo Academy I learned that wedding photography was 'not done' and really awful work. However, not wanting to disappoint my fresh network, I accepted the assignment. During the day one of the guests told me that she loved my attitude and the way I enjoyed the day. And she was was right! I really loved the event. All those people with so many visible emotions: fun, excitement, but also tension, weariness, and irritation. And no one noticing me taking photos. And that's when I make my best pictures. After this wedding I slowly moved my photography career in this direction. Although many photography friends warned me that I would start to hate it sooner or later, I still enjoy my work after doing it for many years.
What makes a wedding photo a good wedding photo?
The most important thing is that you make photos that match the wedding couples wishes. I often experience that they have no idea what they may expect and that there are a lot of differences between photographers and their approaches. Sometimes they contact me when they hear positive feedback on what I do, but prefer photos that are more traditional. I don't like to make them and I'm not good at it either. In that case I refer them to other photographers that are good in creating photos in that style. I love to take photos that make you look at them a bit longer, that intrigue, that tell a story.
What is your definition of a 'journalistic approach'?
Observe, photograph, not to intervene with whats happens just because it will create a better picture. I prefer a perfect moment above a technical perfect picture, although I always try to have both.
How do people react on photos that focus more on the 'perfect moment' than the 'perfect picture'?
Actually that is a mix of laughter, joy, excitement, surprise and a lot of tears. I love it! Usually I try to show some of the pictures already during diner or at the party and in this way I am able to hear some first reactions already. I appear not to be very visible during the day and some guests are sometimes surprised how good the photos actually are. I guess that being invisible might imply that I don't know how to do my job. I find that element a bit confusing.
With three other photographers you have formed the collective 'Shootinq'. How do you guys co-operate?
We replace each other when necessary and are stand-by on request. Sometimes we join one another to test some new techniques or creative ideas. That's what you usuallys skip when working alone. And of course we refer to one another if we are not available anymore on a specific date. The most special co-operation was at an Indian wedding (in Amsterdam) where we were booked with three photographers (not as assistents, but all as main photographer). Those are however (really cool) exceptions.
How do you gain from this co-operation? Do you experience any disadvantage?
To start with the disadvantages, it costs a lot of time which neither of us has a lot of. And that makes that we don't have as much time as we'd wish to see each other and test new plans. And we don't live very close to each other either... However, our co-operation makes that we can accept larger assigments, it helps us focus and we find a lot of inspiration in joining our forces.
What advice would you give to wedding photographers that would like to learn the journalistic approach?
When you have worked as a traditional wedding photographer for a long time, and are used to influence the scenes in your photographs, it can be hard to learn the journalistic approach. It is vey imported to stop directing the photos and start observing. Try to find out what makes the people and the moments special, why do certain things happen? And I don't mean the kiss, the rings, the signing of the contract, but all other things happening around that. The wedding couple is the reason everyone is there, but the people around them help make the day. So they are important too. And the wedding couple is usually unaware of what happens around them when they give each other their vowes. That both mothers cry a bit, that an aunt is falling asleep, or ... And I experienced that those photos turn out to be most important for my clients, because it tells them exactly why those persons are important to them.
What has been the most special reaction on your photos ever?
'Of all decisions made about our wedding, the decision to choose you as our photographer was the best' (Frénk van der Linden - but hey, he is really good with words). He was the same person to tell me that he started to cry whenever he saw the photos again. But there was also someone that tried to change the date of the wedding because he wanted me as the photographer. Or the wedding couple that didn't hire me, afterwards told me that they regretted that decision ever since. As you hear, many positive reactions that make me still love this work. And also vice versa. Since people see that I love my job, I get a lot of positive feedback.
Tell us about the Shootinq-Fearless workshop where you will share your secrets!
Our Shootinq collective started in 2009 in Paris during a masterclass from Huy Nguyen. He was 'Photographer of the year 2008' of the WPJA, a worldwide organsation for journalistic wedding photographers. Last year he founded Fearless Photographers, a new and quickly growing community of wedding photographers. bruidsfotografen. At Shootinq we all won some Fearless Awards already. Really an honour to see your winning photograph among the other really cool wedding pics! From our contact with Fearless, our masterclass idea has grown and we decided to organise it together with Huy Nguyen geven: Shootinq Fearless - Seeing differently, Thinking differently.
Follow the link below for more info about this workshop. At EAGER we think it's the best start for your journalistic wedding photography career!
Photos © Jacqueline Dersjant
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