The word ‘storytelling’ has been paraded across the creative industries for the last ten years.
I notice when we are talking about ‘stories’ in general, we are using it as a marketing mechanism, to sell.
Sell the story to strangers. Readers. Potential clients.
If complete strangers were to see your work, can they see the story?
Is your personality as a storyteller shining through your work?
Will they click through your stories?

That’s a load of bs.
The story is never about us; it’s about them.
Our clients.

The photograph above is a wedding photograph.

But if I were to show it to pedestrians, they will see a man and woman in a room.
If I were to enter this into any awards, it will be disqualified because: no dress, no flowers, no tuxedo, no church, no bridal party, no mason jars, no rings. no shoes, no kissing under a tree.

But this is a wedding photograph.
In fact, to me, it is the most important photograph of the day.

Strangers will not know that it is 1am in the morning.
We had just finished a formal portrait session.
They won’t know that the bride and groom had gone through a day so long, so busy, that the complimentary afternoon high tea was left (mostly) untouched.
The bride and groom will remember the scones with strawberry jam with cream on top.
The cream, smooth and shiny as a hard boiled egg.
Their friends have just finished crashing their suite in Raffles Hotel, leaving the empty wine bottles.
The groom is cutting the 500g wedding cake (different from the one they cut on stage) and feeding it to this wife.
For the very first time.

The photographer was still there because all three of them, bride, groom and I, went to high school together.
We haven’t seen each other for quite some time.
We would later chat about past, present, and future.
Until 3am.

This is a wedding photograph.

Strangers won’t know that.
Strangers probably won’t care.

But every time the bride and groom see this photograph, it will remind them of the day.
The day they registered for marriage.
Sure, we had taken many other formal portraits before then.
But this shot, in my opinion, sums the day up.
Sometimes, one shot, that’s all we need.

We are there to capture the uniqueness of our clients, not to apply some storytelling stardust on their day.

The story is never about us; it’s about them.


Great post Harvard. I often think about what true storytelling is in the context of Wedding photography.