Why photographers shouldn’t hide their nontraditional brides

Guest post by Kirsten Hansen
Photo by Kev Rayner, Image-i-nation photography

Offbeat Brides love our photographers. They are the ones who capture our weddings forever, showing our beauty and love in an unexpected dip for a kiss, toasts that made us (and our friends) cry, and our friends and family sharing in our commitment. We choose them for their talent and we know they can rock an offbeat wedding. Heck, lots of them are enthusiastic about the chance to shoot something a little different and have a lot of fun. Some of them are even offbeat themselves.

So why the heck do so many photographers have Facebook profiles and websites that don't reflect this?

Why do some photographers choose to show only wedding photos of couples that look like they belong in the most traditional bridal magazines? When I, as a prospective client (and even a former client!), visit a portfolio, I want to be able to see myself reflected. I want to see variety! Why is every bride skinny, white, and in a big white dress? Why is every groom perfectly styled in a suit or tux? Why do some photographers choose the most homogeneous batch of images for their portfolio?

I'm betting most of them shoot other weddings and do a fabulous job of it. I've seen the photos from my own wedding which look damn good, if I do say so myself. Those pictures are as good as anything else I've seen on a photographer's page. I've seen all the amazing photos from other weddings on Offbeat Bride so I know it isn't just my offbeat wedding that looks great in photos.

But when photographers don't show it off, nobody else knows they can do it.

As far as I can tell, it's a matter of marketing, and for those photographers who choose to display only the most stereotypical of couples and weddings, they are doing it wrong. People the world over have been speaking up for years, saying that they want to see themselves in magazines, on television, on blogs, in clothing. If we can't identify with the marketing, we won't trust that the company will “get” us.

Let's be honest: chances are that not all photographers' clients are skinny, white brides and well-groomed, athletic white grooms.

This is extra important for a couple hunting a professional wedding photographer. We want to know that they'll do a good job of capturing us and our commitment, right? If they can't prove that they can photograph someone like me and my partner, why would we give them large sums of money and just assume it will be okay? Heck, why would we assume they'd even want to take us on as clients if we're so outside their regular clientele?

I know, I know, their main market is probably still expecting a traditional wedding (a la Wedding Industrial Complex). So no, they probably do not want to be showcasing a goth wedding or a tattooed and pierced couple that might scare off potential clients (unless they're an uber cool offbeat photographer). But there is absolutely nothing wrong with showing a beautiful — but different — wedding. Let's be honest: chances are that not all their clients are skinny, white brides and well-groomed, athletic white grooms.

I would like to challenge those photographers to show off what they can do so the next potential client who comes along wanting something offbeat won't be fooled into thinking that photographer can't or won't do a kickass job. Trust me, it's worth it. More photographers need to trust themselves and their work. Beautiful photographs aren't going to turn off potential clients just because they're of plus size brides in red or grooms in bowling shirts.

I'm thankful I and my dude knew the truth before we looked at a portfolio. But the next couple may not.

Meet our fave wedding vendors

Comments on Why photographers shouldn’t hide their nontraditional brides

  1. That’s certainly an issue that needs to be addressed when photographer-hunting. Ask them outright “Have you photographed offbeat/non-traditional weddings, and do you have a portfolio of your work on those?”

    This sort of leads back to us, too, those who have already had their offbeat wedding shot, by allowing our photos to be included in the portfolio (or at least a back-up portfolio) and allow ourselves to be client references for other offbeat couples to contact.

  2. Amen!! I feel like this is especially true for plus-sized brides. I want to see that a photographer can take lovely photos of a not-skinny person. Do they know the best angles to shoot my adorable chubby cheeks from? There are tricks to this!! I know big girls can look great in photos, but you need to know what you’re doing. Who can’t shoot flattering photos of a size 4 girl in $5000 dress whose make up is professionally done? Show me how you shoot someone like me!!

    • Yes! I could barely find any plus-sized people in photographer portfolios (and, to be honest, they were more often in engagement or “family” shoots than wedding ones).
      I’m fine with my size, and my photographer should be too!

    • I absolutely refused to hire someone who had only skinny young couples on their site. One, it’s wrong, and two, I wanted to see what they could do with a curvy bride. It’s just too simple, isn’t it?

    • Exactly! It’s no wonder I feel self-conscious at times – it’s as if anything larger than a size 4 isn’t “bride-worthy.”

  3. As a photographer…

    We want to show off our absolute best, while marketing to our target audience. If we’re not into the offbeat weddings, we’re not going to advertise for it. Also… Let’s be completely honest…how many ‘offbeat’ weddings are actually fabulously done? A LOT of them are couples with low budgets, so they either don’t have a professional photographer at all, or they don’t have a GOOD photographer, so you’ll never see those spectacular images.

    • Maybe you don’t understand. This article was about wanting to see more offbeat photography on photographer’s portfolios and wanting to see more people of different body types and ethnicities- people getting married who aren’t the magazine standard of the ‘beautiful bride’.

      If the photographers in question don’t consider their photos of these people getting married to be their absolute best then this is a problem with the photographers. That is what this article is addressing.

    • Stephanie, I’m totally with you on knowing your target market. If you’re not looking for non-traditional, don’t market to it. That said, if you’re excluding plus size brides from your portfolio, you’re ignoring potentially a third of your potential clients (offbeat AND traditional).

      Obviously, it’s up to each wedding photographer to decide how they want to market their business, but I do think it’s important for photographers to be aware of alienating potential clients. If you don’t want those clients, then that’s fine β€” but this post is about raising awareness, so that photographers can make informed business decisions.

      • Speaking of making informed business decisions, if you exclude “non-pretty” and “budget-conscious” people from your target market, aren’t you actually excluding the majority of the market? I mean, this goes beyond “what is offbeat”.

        Now, I understand that sometimes businesses target niche markets but this is almost the reverse — it’s like the entire wedding photography industry is competing for the same small pool.

        There’s a lot of money to be made marketing to the masses. Look at Wal-Mart. I hear they’ve done very well for themselves.

    • I think the point is that while many photographers (not all, mind you, and that is also fine) are happy shooting offbeat brides and their weddings, these images are not as often featured on their websites and portfolios. Which is unfortunate, because as an offbeat bride myself, I’d love to see what a photographer can do that’s different from what I’ve seen done on a million other wedding websites/books/etc..

    • Woah! The comment about offbeat couples’ budgets is so rude! I mean, do you read this website? Do all of the photos on here look like shit to you?

      • Yeah, same here. That was a really rude comment. My wedding was offbeat AND on a budget, and my photos are spectacular, fun, and offbeat. They look great. And every offbeat wedding I’ve seen on this site has rocking photos. Dislike.

      • Although I’m a little ruffled by the comment too, I think she was just trying to say that often budget weddings save on money by not hiring a professional photographer, which means that you won’t come across these offbeat weddings in portfolios of these photographers. And while a large portion of the weddings featured on this site have a family friend or professional journalist or something shoot their wedding, despite having wonderful pictures these too will not appear in a wedding photographer’s portfolio, because again they weren’t done by a wedding photographer.

        If you aren’t targeting offbeat weddings, you still should think about including all races and sizes still though, like Ariel said, since those show inclusiveness and your skill as a photographer to make even the “not-bridey-material” women look good.

    • I really want to think that what you, Stephanie, were saying here is that some offbeat brides are on low budgets so they don’t splurge on photography that would be at a level that would make it into a portfolio someone else would see online or in a shop. That offbeat brides on a budget utilize their resources and find awesome people to take awesome photos for them on the cheap. Please tell me this is what you were trying to say.

    • While it’s true that many offbeat weddings are on a tight budget, that’s certainly not universally true… more importantly for photographers to think about, though, is that there are many offbeat (even budget offbeat!) couples who value photography very highly. Even if a couple is going to bake their own cake and skip hiring a DJ, that same couple might recognize that photography is where they can’t scrimp/DIY in the same way.

      I’ve had this experience several times, and I believe that this kind of wedding is a big opportunity for photographers, because if this kind of couple can prioritize photography and afford me, they are often the ideal clients! The details I end up shooting are really cool and unique AND, more importantly, their hearts are in the right place: they want me to focus on the people and the experience more than capturing all the expensive details. Also, these clients are likely to have a lot of fun and not sweat the small stuff on the wedding day, and their easy going attitude shows up in the photos/makes my life easier.

  4. I completely agree… there are plenty of photographers out there itching for non-traditional weddings (I know I’m one!)… and I have a pink-haired bride plastered on my homepage… its definitely something you should address when looking for photographers… you should find the one that is right for you… and is going to love you and your wedding just as much as you do!!!

    • I actually LOOK for offbeat brides. On the same token, you mention that if you don’t see any ‘offbeat’ brides that the photographers don’t want to do those types of weddings. I don’t agree with that at all. I just don’t have the opportunity to shoot many offbeat weddings. If I did I would feature the heck out of them. They are generally WAY more fun than the skinny brides in white…lol

      And on the note of posting ‘plus-sized’ brides…I feature EVERY wedding I shoot,because you never know who (plus-size, offbeat, inter-racial, etc) your future clients might be. And because photography is all about the PEOPLE in the images…most of them end up feeling like family to me.

  5. So many portfolios are full of homogenous images and it often feels very repetitive. This is great advice for photographers – even traditional weddings have brides and grooms that may not represent the homogenized images presented to us in bridal magazines – Mix it up !

    • Exactly! Mix it up and show that you’re photographing real people. When I was on the photographer hunt, my theory was that our wedding day was going to be very personal. I wanted someone who could understand that and capture it. I also wanted proof of that, the understanding that these were actual people in the photos who were getting married for real. There would be laughter, there would be tears. Nothing is more mind-numbing than looking through a portfolio where every single photo starts to look the same. I’m pretty sure the couples are very different people so why should their wedding photos all look the same?

  6. I love shooting non-traditional weddings and I am also happy to say that I have shot beautiful non-skinny brides (I myself was a non-skinny bride 18 months ago). I would love to do more of those though because my website certainly don’t reflect many of them. Maybe a few e-shoots with more off beat styling is a good idea?

  7. A few years back when I was entertaining the idea of doing wedding photography full-time (I shoot part-time now) I would have loved to have shot a non-traditional wedding. I tried my best to find couples in my area but seems as though they were few and far between. *But* if I’d had the opportunity I would have been so proud and exited to showcase those photos on my website and blog! Maybe one day I’ll get the chance!

  8. I love this post. Especially because we, as editors of a non-traditional wedding blog, are witness to this kind of thing all the time and it’s frustrating for us to bump up against it.

    As an example: recently we had a photographer submit a wedding to us to consider for a feature — yet another attractive, slender, white couple whose only offbeat feature was that they shot some portraits against a graffiti wall. (Lovely portraits, it should be said. But not quite a fit with our focus.) We turned down that submission and then minutes later the same photographer contacted us with an amazing same sex wedding, and then a quirky multi-cultural couple.

    What this said to me was that photographers are being trained by mainstream wedding blogs and magazines that “traditional” weddings and “skinny, pretty, white people” are the hot commodity. Then, even when submitting to a non-traditional blog, they will send the pretty white people over before they try their hand with a non-traditional couple.

    This post is so great because it shows that EVERYONE is dying to see more diversity in the wedding industry — not only us wedding bloggers, but even the clients themselves!

    Let’s make it happen, guys!

    • As a photog, i’m just dyin to see diversity in the WAY images are taken or made too…I am craving to see lots of various perspectives and not the same ol “industry” standard. Meh, I’m workin on this one.

  9. As a former event and wedding planner (16 years) and an Offbeat Bride, I can tell you that the typical cookie cutter wedding industry is only now beginning to entertain the notion of the white dress, fancy updo, sample size bride. If photogs are going to ignore us, then we have to make our voices heard and follow through on it. Meaning, if a photographer can’t provide you with examples of a variety of brides and weddings, reacts negatively to your vision…move on! Don’t give someone your money who looks down their nose at you simply because you choose be authentic in your wedding planning, plus sized, etc. The assumption that offbeat brides have low budgets, their decor is crap, etc. is simply an act of prejudice and willful ignorance in my opinion. The wedding industry is changing. Even mainstream couples are bucking tradition and it’s time for photogs, planners, and videographers, etc. to get on the bandwagon before they are left behind.

    • The wedding industry is changing. Even mainstream couples are bucking tradition and it’s time for photogs, planners, and videographers, etc. to get on the bandwagon before they are left behind.

      I really do believe this is true — I’m actually doing a presentation at a mainstream wedding industry conference this fall about this very subject.

  10. It’s fascinating to see this perspective. Our wedding had about 60 guests, mostly family, and some of those of those guests have very sensitive relationships with each other. So when thinking about photography, I was more concerned about a stranger accidentally stirring up drama. I was very hesitant to include an outsider.

    However, I’ve also had the joy of seeing a friend’s career as a wedding photographer develop. I’ve loved seeing his enthusiasm, and appreciate the uniqueness and beauty of how he captures the relationship of each couple he photographs.

    Long story short: while my friend was unable to shoot our wedding (thanks in part to the impending birth of his first child!) he connected us to a friend of his who’s also in the business. And now I have two awesome photographer friends! For me, even though I was dazzled by images, I never would have hired someone without a personal connection.

    • Always, always, always tell your photographer if there are any family issues they should avoid. I ask every bride if there’s anything I should know, I would hate to ask for a photo with mom & dad together AT the wedding, just to find out mom walked out 12 years ago, and dad is now married to her sister. It’s much better to have an uncomfortable conversation with a photographer before the wedding, than a blow up at the wedding!

  11. Im seriously trying to do this, but its not working (I keep getting the same “pretty pictures” requests)… any pointers for photographers on attracting the offbeat couple?

  12. My photographer mixed a close-up of my adorable geeky gamer cake in with the photos from a different, more traditional, and skinnier couple’s wedding on his website. Yeah.

  13. I tend to spend more time on venue sites if their pictures are more diverse especially with wedding photographers. In our wedding there was a very pale white family and an African American family. I don’t know much but I’m sure that changes things.

    Then there’s the fact that having lilly white couples everywhere is just B.L.A.N.D.

    • Seeing that a photographer could handle different races would be very important to me, too. I’m very pale and my boyfriend is quite dark, and we have so few photos together where you can actually see both of our faces. Either he’s all in shadow or I’m terribly over-exposed. NOT what I would want for my wedding pics!

      • I agree. A photographers portfolio should ideally include diversity πŸ™‚

  14. I think that the industry is slowly catching up to what has been popular for awhile now. I was happy when my photographs showed the Star Wars related images from my wedding on their facebook page. ?

    I do wish there were more same-sex and interracial couple on photography web sites too, in addition to the older & plus size couples. Why limit your market, especially if you often shoot these kinds of weddings?

  15. Interesting enough we started shopping for a photographer this week. I have gotten a couple of strange responses. We are on a tight budget so I know we are not the target market. There is no way we can drop 5K on photos. I know of a few people the spend 40K+ on their wedding.

  16. ” Also… Let’s be completely honest…how many ‘offbeat’ weddings are actually fabulously done?” Wiggity what?
    I think this assumption is laughable at best. To answer a question you didn’t ask, YES offbeat weddings can be fabulously done. Part of the issue maybe with how you define "fabulous." And regardless of theme (conventional or offbeat), what is the excuse for minorities or plus sized women…Are their wedding never "fabulous?" I think not. I understand that photographers want to catch the most fish with their nets, but many don't realize that there are alot of couples who compose a potentially lucrative and untapped market.

    • Better question – how many of the thousands of “average” weddings are fabulously done? I mean, really? Sheer numbers alone means there is more “average” mainstream….

  17. this post makes me breathe a sigh of relief. i have chosen to go with a wedding photographer that takes beautiful photos (happens to be my cousins wife!) and usually, she is shooting the generic white bride, athletic groom type wedding… but i know from her emails to me back and forwards that she is PUMPED to do a different wedding like ours, because she just hasnt done any of them to be able to put in her portfolio. i cant wait to be the first crazy wedding for her.

    i was stressing thinking i should have tried to find a photographer who has a portfolio of crazy weddings, but my photographer will be glad to add ours to her otherwise ‘normal’ portfolio.


  18. Totally agree with this post. When you’re hunting for wedding photographers online, all their portfolios start to look the same. Everything is white. The people, the dresses, the cakes, the decor…nothing wrong with that, of course, but how about some diversity? And often the pictures seem weirdly still and serious, like they’re for a magazine shoot rather a happy, possibly even chaotic celebration. (And don’t get me started on the paucity of plus size bride representation!)

    The first colorful, fun, personable wedding photography site I came across? Booked pronto. Our wedding won’t be generic, and I didn’t want the photographer to be generic, either.

  19. THIS!! Although we found our photographer on a LGBTQII site, she still doesn’t have anything on her website about shooting same sex weddings or even any examples. She showed us one photo book she did when we first met but that was it. I can’t find those photos of that actual wedding anywhere on her blog or portfolio. I love our photographer, I really do. I can’t wait to see what she does with our wedding. I would love it though if she would blog about us so other couples like us can see how amazing she is too.

  20. All valid points raised, and I agree not all photographers capture curvy and plus size subjects as well the next, as a curvy girl myself I know this from experience! So it’s nice to have a portfolio of shots to go on. Does this photographer know what angles work best? Is this photographer going to be sensitive to my needs? OR is this photographer just going to be like oh, she’s not a size [insert random single digit size whatever here] I don’t care that she has a double chin in this picture, who cares?! I have seriously met photographers like that 😐 where as if they would have taken two seconds to say ’tilt your chin to the left a little’ the chin would have been gone! It’s the sensitivity, caring, and dedication to your vision that should matter no matter what your size but I’ve found some people can be either extra AWESOME or extra horrible when you are curvy or plus sized.

  21. yea totally RELATE to this post….and JUST worked with a more plus size, OLDER couple (in kilts and faire garb) …and everyone i work with as a photog gets the same treatment…extra special care in making their day amazing beautiful in images!

    I have caught myself recently though, when printing for a bridal show (example) – I may have printed too many “semi traditional” and “pretty” brides, v. my more quirky wild brides…BUT it is almost guaranteed – they are makin it on my slide show. Someone even made a comment about my images and it made me feel bad…cause I didn’t represent my even MORE quirky images. (or diversity of all couples)

    We should never forget WHY we shoot what we do…itz because of our COUPLES and their love…not the *looks*. πŸ™‚ But totally agree, when we represent…be sure to share everyone! πŸ™‚ <3

  22. My photographers website had a great mix of sizes and at least 2 non-white wedding dresses. In Scotland there really isn’t a big mix of ethnicities compared to other countries so that explains why most portfolios here are of white folk.

    When I first spoke with Julie I could tell she was a little dizty and fun! I knew we would get on very well. I remember meeting with her and saying “I’m sure every bride says this but our wedding is going to be different”. I don’t think she really believed how unique it was going to be until the day of the wedding!

    I think the most important thing is finding someone you are comfortable with becasue that person will be with you for the majority of your wedding day. You need to trust them to do the best job they can and capture who you really are!

    This is really obvious but your photographer will produce photos like the ones on their website. If you don’t like them, think they are generic or boring – then that’s what you will get. Only book someone if you are truly happy with their style and finished product!!

    • My photographer has recently redone his site and from his portfolio, you would honestly not know what amazing, personal photos he takes. This is my problem! When photographers don’t showcase the range of what they can do and who they photograph, from their site you assume you know what photos they will produce. But with my photographer, you’d be dead wrong. Even his blog barely touches on how cool he is and how much he “got” me and my husband.

  23. I was very confused in the hunt for a photographer. Everything seemed to look the same. I eventually selected a gentleman who is just starting out in his career and who was affordable in terms of our budget. However, one of the first weddings featured on his Facebook page was same sex – two very stylish loved up gentleman. And his openness about his openness (if that makes sense!!) was the very reason that I signed the dotted line. My photographer’s use of a ‘non traditional’ wedding (civil partnership is very new here) to showcase their work suggested that they are totally cool with ‘non traditional’ in general. And hence he got his gig!

  24. I blog every single wedding I shoot as it’s more about the emotion felt between 2 people I find beautiful. I shoot lots of interracial weddings and I love showing them. In fact my last wedding was a Chinese ceremony and I have a Nigerian wedding coming up in May. I think doing culture weddings among the western white weddings mixes things up and I love seeing the wedding cultures of others. As far as plus size brides go, I would never ever not think of purposely leaving that off my blog, that’s not cool because I’ve seen some knock outs that are plus side. As far as having a true off-beat wedding like the orginal poster showed for her wedding pictures, I just haven’t had a bride hire me with that type of wedding. But when I do, for sure it’s going up on the blog πŸ™‚

  25. I will just echo the lack of diversity – when I was searching for African-American groom ‘inspiration’ pictures, there were about 2. total. I do think that finding a wedding photographer that fits your wedding & your budget is worth the search.

  26. If you are interested in the offbeat, I would like to suggest the site modelmayhem as a means of finding a photographer. It is a site for those interested in the modeling under a variety of categories (fitness, fashion,cheesecake, body paint, fine art nude, etc.). There is a good mix of experienced and new to the biz photogs, often looking to increase or diversify their portfolio. You do need to be careful to screen out the creepers, but they are few and far between. There are a lot of non-traditional photographers on there that are very talented and are often willing to negotiate price if they are allowed to retain some rights to the pictures for advertising purposes.

  27. This is a great article for a couple of reasons– and yes, I know that the whole “Off Beat BRIDE” is for…brides, but I would also like to throw out that a lot of photographers (at least in my area) do other work as well, engagment shoots, graduation photos, headshots, that sort of thing– and with my size 14 butt and bright blue hair, I found it near impossible to find someone to take my damn headshots so I could submit for acting jobs—you can imagine my frustration/fear about finding someone willing to take pictures on my wedding day.

  28. I love our photographer. His style is photojournal-ish and he has been completely down with all of our off-beat ideas and requests. Interviewing them is critical to getting a read on how they react to your wackiness/offbeat qualities.

  29. As a photographer I can’t agree with this article more. I have been assisting with weddings for 2 years now and I am just pushing out on my own. I blog/feature every wedding I shoot and will continue to do so. My favorite weddings are the offbeat ones. I look forward to being able to feature tattoos, same sex couples and things like Rockabilly and Zombie weddings. To me its about showing the love and emotion not the cookie cutter weddings “everyone” wants (according to the Wedding Industrial Complex)

  30. Yes yes yes. I totally agree with this article. I’ve seen many photographers advertise that they do same-sex weddings but never do I see any images in their portfolios. While it may not be their intention, I always get the impression that they are trying to hide lgbt couples so they don’t scare off potential hetero clients. I think if you go out of your way to advertise to the lgbt crowd, then step up and show us some love in your portfolio. I’ve already decided that if I don’t see same-sex wedding photos in your portfolio, I’m going to find someone else who does.

  31. Love this post πŸ˜€

    I’m actually a little scared if we make it into our photographer’s portfolio. They’re awesomely talented ladies and I love their work crazy much (which is why I insisted on hiring them ;D) but really all the couples in their portfolio look like models.
    And now there’s us who don’t look like models, aren’t skinny, don’t get married in white AND are not a heterosexual couple. I don’t know if they just never shot a gay couple, or a plus size bride, or people with average faces, or brides in colourful dresses or if they just don’t put them into the portfolio. As far as I know they’ve been booked out every summer for years, but there’s only a small handful of weddings posted on their blog/website/facebook.

    They do say they can’t wait to shoot our wedding, and I want to believe them, I’m just a little scared that in comparison to all those gorgeous wedding magazine style weddings, our wedding will pale in their eyes and they won’t even mention us.
    I’m confident that our wedding will be perfect for us and be about us and will be beautiful, but I don’t like the thought that the people capturing it might hide us away.

    …I think I might just demand they at least put us on their blog. I shall refuse to feel smaller or less significant than any of their other costumers.


    • I’m with you there. The photog pair my FH and I chose to hire are awesome folks. On their website they described themselves as nerds, which is what really grabbed us.

      But it seems the photos they feature on their site are all model-quality ladies (one that they use a lot is a slender blonde who poses as though she’s had plenty of experience in front of a camera). They’ve even been flown to exotic locations for weddings.

      Then you’ve got my love and I, both larger folks (I’m 6′ and a size 24) and getting married in a smaller, more intimate venue. While they were awesome and personable during the engagement photos (which turned out BEAUTIFULLY), I still doubt any photos from our wedding will be in their portfolio. I expect it, but at the same time it makes me sad. (sigh)

  32. Being from Wichita ks I understand exactly what you are talking about!!!!!
    I would consider myself off beat lite and had a terrible time finding anything that truly suited me. It drives me to start some type of consulting business here to help others like me find their ideal wedding situations!

  33. From my days working for a wedding photographer in the office, I can assure photographers reading this that once we had pictures on our website of mixed-race couples and “mature” couples, we started booking far more of them — and clients would straight up tell us that they came us because it was clear Janet could make them look good, not just coulda-modeled couples.

  34. Amen. I would much rather shoot a couple that have some great ideas that are non traditional any day. Actually, I’m not wedding photographer, I’m a concert photographer. BUT I am a plus size, tattooed girl who loves shooting anything new and for people who are open to new things, who are quirky and even a bit freaky! It’s all about Fun and Love!

  35. For exactly this reason we’re hiring an offbeat photographer who isn’t a “Wedding Photographer” – If we don’t want a wedding that fits into the version that a lot (possibly most) portfolios want to portray then why buy into it? I realize that in a lot of cities that big “W” Wedding photographers are the only option. Our number one choice is a friend’s boyfriend who is an accomplished event/rock/editorial photographer who shoots things like concerts, art openings and burlesque shows. His portfolio is of all kinds of people at all kinds of places – looking good! They just don’t happen to be at weddings – but they COULD be.

    • I just wanted to share a personal anecdote related to this: our wedding was shot by a photographer friend who was very clear she was NOT a wedding photographer. And you know what? It showed. I wouldn’t change anything (our priority was having a friend shoot the wedding, so having HER do it was more important than having a wedding photographer) but I will say that photographers who have experience shooting weddings DO tend to capture weddings in ways that non-wedding photogogs don’t.

      • And just as a piece of advice from someone who sees a lot of weddings shot by non-wedding photographers, judging by what gets sent to me, anyway, photographers who shoot concerts usually do the best job of shooting the actual ceremony and reception; shooting “action” and “portraits” are really different skill sets, and part of what sets wedding photographers apart is they need to be skilled at both.

        • shooting “action” and “portraits” are really different skill sets, and part of what sets wedding photographers apart is they need to be skilled at both.

          Exactly that.

          • This! We went with a man who styled himself as an “art photographer” with an emphasis on portraits; his portfolio was very cool and so were our pictures. He thought way outside the box but still made us look great. πŸ™‚

  36. I love this article. The photographer who did my wedding has a policy of posting her pictures on her website after the ceremony, so the couple doesn’t need to wait to see them if they’re on their honeymoon. She has pictures of traditional, white weddings from years ago still posted on her site. While she did put our colorful, Halloween themed pictures up on her site, they were taken down almost immediately afterward. By that point the wedding was over and my interactions with her were done, so I wasn’t going to seek her out to complain or anything, but it certainly bothered me! Especially when our out of town guests who wanted to see the pictures had to be told they were no longer available on the website.

  37. One thing I wish photographers would realize is that no matter who you are or what your wedding will look like, the unique or unexpected pictures are the ones that stand out. I just happen to be a skinny, white, straight, non-tattooed person, but I would still MUCH rather patronize a photographer who proudly showcases couples of all shapes, colors, and orientations. A lot of people have been saying that couples want to see people “like them” represented in a portfolio. Although this is true, I think it’s important for photographers to remember that there are also plenty of people who DO look like the people in those portfolios who are conscious that they are over-represented and are not so closed-minded that they would be scared away from a photographer that showcases all kinds of weddings!

  38. So I read this post and a lot of the comments and had to write a response on my blog about it. I love you OBB and the amazing clients I have gotten from you guys! But I gota say I think you have this wrong.


  39. I actually just got into a slightly heated argument/conversation about this very topic on a pro photographers forum.

    A very talented photographer was sharing some advise she’d picked up in a recent workshop where the teachers were advising everyone to “put your most beautiful clients on your marketing materials’. I posted a comment reading ‘Wouldn’t it be more advantageous to us, as photographers providing a service to as wide a range of clients as possible, to have as diverse a portfolio of past clients as possibly in our materials?’

    I got a lot of push back about how weddings are ‘creating a fantasy’, that kind of thing. It’s incredibly wonderful to read the comments here and to have my theory affirmed – that many people’s ‘fantasy wedding’ is, in fact, to see themselves, how they are now, and to know that they’re working with a photographer who’s idea of beauty is them.

    I’ve never once seen an unattractive person get married. Love makes us glow, and if your photographer can’t capture that? The problem isn’t you. It’s them.

    • This is depressing, but they’re only saying/doing what society has programmed most people to believe. Look at the media telling us that ‘sex sells’ (i.e. thin white naked women sells) it’s been drummed into most people that fitting into a narrow beauty ideal is what matters, and that putting ‘beautiful’ (skinny, blonde, white etc) people on your materials sells. But in the long term it doesn’t. It just enforces a barbarically limited beauty ideal, and makes the majority of women feel crap about themselves, and believe that we don’t deserve to be in the public eye, or photographed, or loved, because we’re not like the photoshopped women in the pictures.

      It’s for this reason that I can’t stand photo retouching. I’m no stranger to using photoshop to create art, but I don’t like the unattainable standard that retouching creates, or the inherent dishonesty of photos that claim to be real, but are heavily edited. They just end up making people feel worse about their real selves, and neither art nor photography should ever do that.

      Yes, weddings are about ‘creating a fantasy’, but they are about creating a fantasy for everyone, whether you be fat or thin, black or white or disabled or tattoed or pierced or blue-haired or gay. The assumption that everyone wants the fantasy of looking like a size 0 model in a fashion magazine is incredibly patronising.

      *actually, all women, now that I think about it. I’ve met few skinny, beautiful women who are actually happy with their looks or bodies. You’re never thin or beautiful enough in this world…

  40. I think this is a wonderful article.. I am so glad that I for one didn’t have to stress over who I would find for a photographer for the most important day of my life… I will be getting married in less than a year in beautiful Sedona, Arizona.. My photographer is actually one of my coworkers who has this as a second job. I have looked at his sight, and he takes wonderful pictures of people, places and events.. He seems to capture the essence of each person he takes a picture of. He is really excited to take pictures of our wedding. Even with a purple wedding dress and the men in all black except for the purple ties.. He even wants to feature it on his website.. I wish every one luck in finding the perfect photographer for their perfect day…

  41. Articles like this are why I love your blog and link to it so often!

    I agree — couples want to see how a photographer would photograph THEM, not some fantasy barbie and ken couple.

    of course, I love it when the couple is barbie and ken. It’s fun to photograph beautiful, perfect people, and it would be misleading and dishonest to suggest otherwise.

    But the vast majority of my couples are not barbie and ken, and you’re right, many of them are indeed offbeat.

    And almost all go on my blog and Facebook page! Vive la difference!

  42. I wish I had more offbeat couples to serve! The vast majority of engaged couples are still looking for something traditional, so that’s probably a major reason you’re seeing mostly traditional weddings in photographers’ portfolios.

    I’m not a photographer, but as part of the wedding industry, I jump at the chance to be a part of offbeat weddings. Don’t get me wrong, I love all my traditional weddings too! But it’s fun to do something different once in awhile. I know several of my photographer friends feel the same way… they’re just waiting for the opportunity to be invited to shoot an offbeat wedding. Don’t be afraid to ask!

  43. I would LOVE to photograph more non-traditional couples. And I would be so proud to show them off on my blog. My sister is getting married at the end of the year and I’m planting all sorts of ideas in her head πŸ˜‰

  44. In my wedding business, I showcase Off Beat Brides. Maybe one in 20 is actually an unusual wedding but even my most traditional clients like to see something different. If nothing else, it reinforces what they wanted to do for themselves OR it inspires them to branch out, knowing that I’ll be there to support them.

  45. I would photograph an Offbeat wedding in a heartbeat but unfortunately I’ve not had the chance yet. I even offered FREE wedding photography to a Offbeat couple and had no takers. Total bummer. I’m crossing my fingers I’ll get that fabulous Offbeat couple soon!

  46. While I completely agree with the article and many, many of the comments, here is my thought:

    The photographer we are considering is clearly incredibly talented…but there is no one “offbeat” I’ve seen in his profile. There are different sizes and races, but the weddings themselves are very tame……..and I still want to hire him.
    His work is awesome, and at the end of the day that’s what I’m paying for. I’m not going to write him off because his other brides weren’t heavily tattooed and in a pink prom dress like me.

    I’m hoping that be hiring him I can start a trend and maybe be his first of many OBBs πŸ™‚

  47. I know a lot of AMAZING professional photographers who have a wide range of photography skill sets, from portrait to wedding to concert and more; and the one thing they all have in common is that they are all artists of the photography trade.

    When I looked at photographers for my 1st wedding (and now for my 2nd) I looked for people who were okay with wanting to do unconventional poses and angles. I ended up using two photographer friends, one who was trying to build her portfolio and one I used to do off the cusp photoshoots with.

    The difference in their photos were really striking. The girl trying to build her portfolio really had a hard time with non-posed shots, but the ones she did were beautiful and almost magazine worthy (my ex had a bar piercing between his eyes, tattoos and 3 lip piercing and his photo looked like he was in a GQ photoshoot) but the more “spontaneous” shots were horrible.
    My seasoned friend had worked with me before so he knew what angles to shoot me at (the other girl did shots that were from below shooting up, NEVER do that with a big hipped and boob woman, never!) and what I liked as far as photo styles go. I ended up with a huge range of photos and while I like them all individually, they really lacked a consistent look between them all, something I didn’t know I’d want til later afterwards.

    My best advice is to make mood board of photos you’ve seen that you like, be it offbeat weddings, photoshoots with subjects that are your size/build/ethnicity, or just ways other photos came out, and bring it with you to your photographer consultation.
    It opens up room for discussion with the Photographers and lets you get a little more personable.

    Saying things like “I like this photo here bc the pose is fun and spontaneous, do you have experience with taking more spontaneous photos and can I see examples of them?” helps you open the door to look beyond what they may or may not be interested in doing.

    Obviously no photographer wants to shoot photos like other photographers, so you need to be prepared to explain to them why you like the photo examples. If you’re photographer has no examples of what you like, ask them if they’d be willing to setup time to do test shot/test runs or a silly photoshoot. Most photographers are willing to work with you and be flexible to get your business and if they aren’t, think long and hard about hiring them, bc your request isn’t unreasonable, so imagine what might
    happen on your wedding day.

    I don’t think most photographers (or at least with the ones I know) are embarrassed to show their OBB clients or OffBeat style photography, I just think most of them haven’t had the opportunity to be apart of them.

    I think building a good working relationship with your photographer is key, though. You can’t trust someone to capture your most personal moments if you don’t trust them to begin with.

  48. I’m a wedding photographer and totally agree with you! I include all my clients in my portfolio and I blog all my weddings.
    However, as photographers, the advice we are often given is “show what you want to shoot” and to target your blog posts so they show your “ideal” couples.
    My ideal bride is a bridezilla of any age, shape or size! I guess we eventually attract the clients that suit us… my clients tend to be people who want a good laugh and some decent photos without having to spend ages on them.
    It is hard for photographers though, an intensely competitive market. I can understand why people “show what they want to shoot.” It’s another marketing dilemma that faces each photographer.

  49. After reading this and many of the comments, I decided to google “wedding photographer mystate” to see what I found. I was pleased and shocked and double-pleased that the very first non-sponsored listing was someone whose featured wedding and engagement shoots were, in this order, an African-American couple, a couple where the woman was pregnant, a mixed-race couple who was probably in their 40s and both were comfort-sized, a young goth-ish couple, a couple who was probably in their 50s or early 60s, and a lesbian couple. Needless to say, I’m bookmarking him for our wedding (of two comfort-sized AARP-eligible women!).

  50. Hey we are the photographers for this feature and we LOVE offbeat brides so much !!!

    The crazier and different the better !


  51. I make a point of showing pictures of a whole range of weddings, you never know what will appeal to future clients. I want to show beautiful photographs of people of all shapes, sizes and ages.

  52. I don’t show all of my couples in my portfolio but it’s the more traditional weddings I don’t include. I want to attract couples of all shapes, sizes, orientations and ethnicities and I want to attract couples who are having weddings that are personal to them. I choose to show more alternative/quirky weddings in my portfolio because I want to put out what I want to get back. People who don’t show alternative/quirky couples are presumably doing the same.

  53. I love this article, and completely agree. I’m nowhere near getting married so don’t know if I’d be offbeat-lite, but this is something that affects all brides and grooms. Even if someone wants a reasonably ‘traditional’ wedding, all people are different and have their insecurities or quirks; I know few people who truly match the stereotypical bride image. Even if I have a muted wedding, I still want to know that my photographer can portray people of all shapes and sizes, colours and genders, etc with sensitivity and humanity, and that they are proud and honoured to be included in such personal events. Not that they see every wedding as enacting a fashion shoot for Vogue magazine.

    And it kinda would repulse me if my photographer only liked to put pictures up of skinny white people with expensive weddings. I believe in inclusivity in all things, and I would feel uncomfortable giving my money to someone who only thought a certain type of bride and groom are ‘good enough’ to display or photograph, because that’s not a viewpoint I believe is just. And because, if they judge or are disgusted by normal, lovely people, how could I guarantee that they aren’t secretly judging me? A good photographer should be like a doctor; non-judgemental, patient, and someone who loves and understands people. When you let someone into your most intimate moments, you deserve that.

  54. When I interviewed my photographer we were up front about our nerdiness and interests as a couple. As soon as she heard that she whipped out a sampling of images she was currently organizing for her blog of a multiracial couple in kilts, a plus sized bride, and the two of them holding a Klingon bat’leth while cutting the cake. She’s known more specifically for her “mainstream” looking weddings but has snuck a few alternative looking brides and couples onto her main website. At the end of 2013 she even announced on her blog and facebook profile that my engagement session (a Roman Holiday/Star Wars remix theme) was her favorite of the year and we definitely don’t resemble that of a mainstream, magazine quality couple. So this article definitely strikes close to home for me and makes me glad that I stuck to my guns and hired such a fun and open photographer.

  55. Always some food for thought on OBB!

    I never make a conscious effort to include different body types in my portfolio – I just include the photos I love best. This happens to include all kinds of brides, body types and some damned awesome alternative weddings. If there’s a group underrepresented in my portfolio it’s because I haven’t photographed it yet rather than trying to put those people off or not wanting to share it.

  56. As a wedding photographer this post makes me SO EXCITED that I can’t even begin to tell you. After working for years in the photography industry I’ve been feeling lately that I am just as sick of the typical traditional and boring photos that the industry encourages us to turn out. I am tired of feeling the pressure from the photography industry to curate weddings and manufacture them to make them look different than they actually are. It feels fake to me, which is why this summer I made the decision to change my entire brand and website to reflect my desire to work with offbeat clients (not just brides). Sure, maybe the budgets are lower – but who cares? I want to work with the kind of people who are fun, nontraditional and relaxed. I find that you guys are the types who appreciate what I do more than stuffy traditional clients. In the next couple weeks I’ll be releasing my new website and branding and this blog post was basically a confirmation for me to read on this journey that I am making the right decision and that offbeat clients deserve to have wedding photographers who celebrate who they are and not try to make them into something they aren’t. So loving this blog post and I wish more wedding photographers would feel this way too!

  57. The funniest thing happened when I looked for a photographer for my wedding. I had looked at sites and had the same experience: skinny white young (certainly younger than me) women that would look good in whatever kind of photos. But then I took myself and walked to whatever photographers were within a 30 min walk radius from my house. They didn’t have sites, they didn’t have portfolios. What they had were the photos for the last weddings they had been at and they let me look them over. These were true weddings, in the sense that there were people of all shapes and colours.
    I chose one because he didn’t do just the clichΓ© stuff, though he could not be called Offbeat by far, and because I liked that he featured beautiful photos of an interracial couple on the window of his shop (which I hadn’t seen on any if the other windows).

Comments are closed.