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Hats off to Hindsight Bride…

It’s nice to have a little shake up in the world of wedding blogging once in a while… and if you haven’t already read “Dear Weding Bloggers, You Suck” on Hindsight Bride, you will find it a great read.

In a nutshell, Christie posted an open letter from a wedding photographer about the state of wedding blogs and our negative influence on brides. Ouch! But there were some very interesting points:

  • only elaborate, unusual weddings are ever on blogs
  • it shouldn’t be all about the details
  • we only publish pretty weddings and pretty brides
  • brides and grooms feel pressured by the images on blogs
  • wedding blogs are starting to look very samey
  • we’re not giving photographers a chance

I posted a long comment on the blog post*, and thought as I was writing it might be worth repeating here**. I’d love to hear your thoughts too.

My views on the state of wedding blogs, as shared on Hindsight Bride

Jesus – ok where do I start with this one?!

First, I hang my head in shame at Meg’s note that brides apologise for their weddings not being interesting enough, or not having time to make things. I have said to photographers recently that I’d like lots of details.

But frankly, b0ll0cks to some of the rest of it – not all blogs are the same. Click my link at the top: it’s a wedding where the guests couldn’t arrive through the snow; the venue couldn’t cater for the reception and cancelled – ON THE DAY – the bride and groom were gutted and desperate and in the end, a local pub stepped in, fed everyone and saved the day. The bride and groom have both had their stories published on blogs. (Kevin’s story was on Staggered.)

Stories? Yes – because a story is just as important as the images that go along with it, and the inspiration.

Yes, we want to inspire brides and grooms. (Grooms? Who?! there’s a whole other story about blogs…)

But that inspiration isn’t all about making things. It’s about having a wedding that’s personal. If that’s turning up in your jeans and celebrating around a campfire with your band and loved ones, fine – I’d blog that!

A confession…

Very occasionally I’ve turned away weddings because the photography is crap. And I’ve told the photographer the wedding didn’t fit with my brand, or there weren’t enough details.

I like to feature the very best photography on my wedding blog.

But I’m not a photographer. I try and choose the very best: the fabulous lighting, the perfectly cropped images, the brighter colours which can only be Photoshop, the interesting apertures and all that malarkey. But sometimes I’ve got it wrong.

Sorry!

I’ve featured weddings which have been creatively done, fabulous themes, brilliant ideas, lower quality photography. And I’ve been criticised for that. But if a bride and groom have put their hearts into the decoration rather than spending all their money on the photographer, it’s still blog-worthy.

And that brings me to what deserves to be on blogs. Any wedding that brides and grooms want to see. Any idea that might help some people.

It doesn’t mean you have to have everything.

Send me stories. Tell me about why your wedding was special. Tell me why it was different. Write a guest post for English Wedding about ordinary weddings and why they’re better than outlandish ones. Share your love story, let that inspire blog readers…

I’m open to ideas. And criticism. But I’d throw this one back to Meg Surly, to brides and grooms: if wedding bloggers are getting it wrong, we need more people to tell us how you want us to get it RIGHT.

Inspiration isn’t just about pictures.

Claire x

*that’s a busy wedding blog today – it’s not publishing my posts and keeps crashing. So I tried to comment.

**all the more reason to share my thoughts here too!

Claire Gould

Claire spends her days writing - either in beautiful calligraphy or online. She lives on the edge of the English Lake District only minutes away from the beach, where she loves to escape and unwind. Claire's calligraphy can be found at www.byMoonandTide.com. Claire launched the English Wedding Blog in November 2009 - it's been a top 10 UK wedding blog ever since, with a regional focus we hope you LOVE.

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11 COMMENTS
  • Tom Astley
    8 years ago

    And breathe…………….

  • Alison Wren
    8 years ago

    Ooooh, I love a good debate……… it’s great to open up the discussion and it’s certainly got us all talking. Is there a definitive answer? No – just like there is no standard recipe for a “perfect wedding”.

    • Claire
      8 years ago
      AUTHOR

      Hi Alison,
      I think there are lots and lots of answers: I could easily say what’s right and wrong in my opinion – but I’d just have two piles of worms with labels on…
      I would love to delve into the discussion further. Maybe I will. Maybe I’ll have to invent a Meg Surly of my own.
      Thanks for your comment 🙂

  • Adam Johnson
    8 years ago

    Can’t help feeling like you’ve held back a bit Claire?

    This is a can of worms in one sense, but in actual fact it’s a can that’s been open for a while and someone’s just reminded us that the can is still there, stinking the fridge out… It’s been there almost so long that we’re either pretending it’s not there any more, or we just don’t want to go too near it because it’s almost radioactive.

    You know what – I’ve been rejected by blogs in the past (I know, can you believe it?!) and it hurt. It hurt because I think I’m a good photographer and I’ve thought my couple deserved to be featured, only to get a standard reply telling me to go away.

    This open letter from an anonymous photographer is so on the money (on most points) it’s unreal. But in some ways not so much. I think a lot of blogs fit a niche, a specific and targeted niche. And not every wedding fits into that niche. There’s nothing wrong with that, or with a niche in general, but the problem is when people start saying that niche is the best niche, or the only niche worth bothering about. Or that if you can’t book clients having a wedding in that niche then you’re rubbish or past it or – god forbid – boring!

    There is no reply to this. MOST will agree wholeheartedly, some will defend, some will attack back. But you know what, who cares – go about your business, do it the best you possibly can, get clients who suit you and the way you work and who want you to be their photographer because they love you and your style of photography. Keep improving, keep wanting to get better, submit your work if you want it to be featured, but don’t be hurt if it gets rejected. The blogs are absolutely spoilt for choice and inundated with submissions, we photographers are the bottom of the food chain, there are far too many of us and we make the bloggers lives easy by desperately wanting our latest work on public display. If you measure your success on blog features then you may need to look at your business plan?

    • Claire
      8 years ago
      AUTHOR

      Maybe I held back – there’s so much to be said, and I wrote this quickly (knowing I had work to do elsewhere this morning).

      It’s one of those discussions where it’s easy to see both sides. Blogs are there to serve an audience, the audience tell us what they like via comments, emails, tweets, Likes, and visitor stats. We see what we’ve got right, we learn, we do it again. Photographers are there to serve the brides and grooms – and the same applies. We all have our USPs, our specialities and we should stick to what works and to what pleases our clients.

      The difficulty comes in promotion only: what pleases (specific) clients (in small numbers – maybe 15 couples a year per photographer = 30 people) might not please blogs (with an audience of thousands and thousands daily = never, ever quite so niche!).

      Promotion’s a small part of a wedding business. Promotion via blogs should be teeny tiny. A sideline, an added extra, a bonus. Perhaps most often a means to some kind of diversification in a photographer’s core business.

      In that sense, I agree with your last paragraph totally Adam.

      But – as I have to go and be housewifely and make tea, it means the thoughts in my mind beginning with, “ok, but where does that leave the blog audience and those brides who might be feeling a bit put out by having to measure up to blogs?” will have to wait.

      Maybe this is too many discussions bundled into one. Maybe there’s an equivalent Meg Surly out there who’s a bride or groom to be… wouldn’t that be an interesting point to hear?

  • jenny mcavoy
    8 years ago

    Well ….Hallelujah! Someone with the balls to say what most of us photographers have been moaning about for ages. There are 2 different sets of issues here – 1. the amount of seriously poor, boring, average, faddy photography about. Every time I see an orange filter, a tilted couple, stupid poses, dull washed out colour, I have a mini rant in my office. It feels like the “Emperor’s Clothes” -it’s getting published on major blogs so it must be good-right? They are all just masking technique for no imagination or poor camera skills. It will date so quickly that you will be able to pinpoint the photography pretty accurately to a 3 year period and after that the decent photographers will still be around shooting weddings in glorious, timeless, high quality. Issue 2 -what should wedding bloggers publish? Anything they flipping well like! It’s a personal blog open to like minded people to gain inspiration from. I don’t give a rat’s bum if I get published by blogs-it’s not why I shoot a wedding-the only people I really aim to please are the bride and groom and if they view their images and are delighted then I am happy. It’s a lovely bonus if it does get published but that’s not what I set out to achieve. I look at some blogs posts and hate the photography but love some of the stories or a dress, or details-and that is what I will comment on. Finally there are certain blogs that are never going to publish my work and i am never going to read their blog-we don’t float each other’s boats-nothing personal-just fact-I’m not going to lose any sleep over it and I can’t imagine those wedding bloggers will either 🙂

  • Hannah Webster
    8 years ago

    Hmm. A can of worms indeed. I am hugely impressed that Hindsight Bride had the balls to post this. And I am so glad that you took the time to respond to it. The original post raises several issues, some I agree with and others, not so much. I do think that bloggers should be free to blog what the heck they like. I know that they don’t want to hurt the feelings of those photographers submitting work and don’t always give an honest reason as to why they don’t accept. And I know they sure as hell can’t (and shouldn’t) accept every single submission that comes their way. I for one approve of blogs having something of a niche and sticking to it. Horses for courses and all that. Yes, all weddings are special and lovely and wonderful. No doubt about it. I love weddings and am thankful that I get to go to lots of ’em because of what I do. But not all weddings will inspire other couples planning theirs in the future. Some of my favourite weddings have seemed super special purely because of the people and the emotions on the day. But other couples can’t borrow that idea. No matter how hard you try, you can’t fix that side of things and make it perfect. I can photograph it so that my clients can look back on it and feel all warm and fuzzy, but if I were planning my own wedding I’d just assume that side of things would sort itself out and I’d want ideas for everything else. Because, you know, it’s not all about the details. But the details are totally what I’m gonna be able to pick up and run with.

  • Belinda McCarthy
    8 years ago

    It’s really interesting to read the different weddings blogs at the moment and see how each is responding to the original post – very, very interesting!

    Wedding blogs are there for brides, not photographers. Let’s get that bit straight (and even I, as a photographer, know this). However, not all wedding blogs are equal, and not all publish a good variety of different weddings (fitting under their particular specialism, that is). Some of them are so darned samey it’s untrue.
    And, more to that, there are some blogs which are patently a closed shop, unless you happen to be chums, or spend a ton on advertising.

    Photographers do need to support the blogs in a variety of ways – promotion, advertising, submissions – or else they would cease to exist in the format they do now. I’m not precious when I get a submission rejected, as I’m pretty choosy about where I submit to and I know that there will be a darned good reason. However, I do have to agree with the original post that there’s too much faddy photography about; sometimes it looks like all the photographers have gone on one course together and are now working exclusively from the handbook they were given when they went home. Yet, if beneath all this faddiness, there’s an interesting wedding, then of course the blog should consider it.

    Anyway, kudos for holding your hands up where you feel it’s justified – I’m rightly impressed! And I, for my part, promise never, ever to add a tacky lens flare, or take a photograph of a headless couple standing apart, holding hands in a ‘v’ shape. Perish the thought.

  • Jenni - Bespoken For
    8 years ago

    I say well done to the blogger and the photographer for having the courage to write and publish! Great points – Brides want inspiration but they also need reality! That’s what we should all aim for. On my blog http://bespokenfor.co.uk/blog I only ever feature my customers – their wedding are real, they are so honoured to be feature and I am so proud to show how amazing every wedding can be. Lets give brides inspiration, but also educate them on what really is important in their wedding! and it isn’t about setting fancy scene of filling things with great photo oporunities. It’s about people, love and fun!

  • I’m going to weigh in from a bloggers perspective. Now you might be scratching your head and saying, Ha! It’s the Hindsight Bride herself. Why didn’t she weigh in on her own blog?” Great question. First let me explain that, like Claire, I don;t fully agree with everything Meg says. I think she overly generalizes in some places, making some bloggers (myself included) feel a bit misunderstood. But I published the post because I felt like it’s the elephant in the room among brides, bloggers, and photographers alike. I didn’t participate directly in the conversation for two reasons: 1) I was on a camping trip. 2) I wanted to see the conversation unfold organically without any guidance or input from me. I was pleased to see so many bloggers reply with ideas I had been thinking all along.

    Two things struck me about Meg’s letter. One that brides were developing wedding-self-esteem issues fueled by blogs as well as the mainstream media. We bloggers are supposed to be an antidote to mainstream magazines that push the this-is-the-happies-day-of-your-life-how-can-you-put-a-price-tag-on-it crap. We are supposed to offer fresh alternatives and inspiration for every bride.

    Oh wait, we do! Maybe not each individual blog does so, but as a collective I feel there are plenty of blogs and resources out there for every kind of bride and photographer. Have crappy photography but a good story? Check out the Off-beat Bride or the Anti-Bride. Hell come to me if it’s a mountain wedding.

    Another thing I was glad to see bloggers articulate, Clair included, is how much time and thought many of us–nay most of us– put into establishing our editorial policies and making them clear to brides and photographers alike. Look, it’s right on my blog. I specialize in mountain weddings. MOUNTAIN WEDDINGS!!! I can’t stand it when photographers send me mid-Western weddings. The mid-West is one of the flattest parts of the US. Want to get published on my blog? Take the time to read my about page and publishing guidelines before asking me to waste my time looking at a wedding that doesn’t fit and then crafting a rejection email that won’t hurt your feelings!

    Now I’m not trying to meet a vitriolic letter with a vitriolic response. Rather, I want to show that the pendulum of course swings both ways here. I posted the letter to start the conversation, to clear the air, and to create a stronger community by opening up lines of communication.

    I am so grateful to the bloggers like Claire and commenter such as yourselves who have kept the conversation going and who have explored more fully where they stand on this issue! Cheers!

  • @LoveYouBlog
    8 years ago

    As a bride to be who has enjoyed wedding blogs for the last couple of years, I would say that I’m NOT intimidated by the weddings shown. Yes, they’re generally beautiful and yes there’s always some detail that is particularly interesting about them but surely that’s what we want? Don’t we want ideas for to how to make our wedding slightly different? We want to look beautiful, we want something quirky, we want beautiful photos. The standard of photos shown on blogs inspired me to look for a good quality photographer and made me realise that we should ensure we have enough money to pay for quality photographs. It’s what lasts after all. Without all of the quality photos shown on wedding blogs, I wouldn’t have known where to set the bar. I for one think that most blogs have it just right and we’re clever enough as readers to exercise the power of control to read or not read and vote with our feet (or our typing fingers!)…and I keep coming back for more! Bx

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