Today’s wedding photographer interview is with The Art of Wedding Photography by G.E. Masana! The photos below have such a beautiful distinct style — I’m loving their drama. Enjoy the interview:
Tell us a bit about yourself and your company
I’m the wedding photographer for couples who think a shot of them jumping in the air on their wedding day is something they’d rather not have to explain to their kids someday.
But seriously, I get commissioned by magazine editors, designers, actors… people whose careers make them knowledgeable about photography. They’re appalled by typical wedding photographers. Because they want art. Because they want emotion. Not trendy cookie cutter shots. They want their real moments photographed because they feel their real moments are significantly better than any artificial contrived pose a photographer conjures up. And rightfully so.
How did you get into wedding photography?
I was a graphic artist in NYC. I never actually thought of being a wedding photographer. But I knew a wedding photographer. And he got me to go to a wedding and stuck a camera in my hands. And that’s how I started. So when people tell me my photography looks artistic, I tell them it’s because I treat the camera as if it were my artist’s brush.
What is your favorite part of the wedding day to capture?
It’s not really a “part of the day” but I love little unplanned, unscripted moments where the bride and groom interact with family and it’s endearing and touching and funny and sweet. I like real life.
I’ll tell you why: I think wedding couples by and large don’t think in terms of how much these photos will really mean to them years down the road.
They’ll give some intellectual thought to it, sure, but the real depth of it they won’t feel for perhaps another twenty years. That’s maybe when grandma is sadly no longer with us, or mom. One thing’s for sure: things just aren’t the same as they once were.
But they’ll look at this photo where they had a moment with their mom, their grandmom. And that photo becomes their connection to her. A touch point. Because that photo’s not about them smiling into a camera, that photo’s about their relationship. That has everlasting meaning.
What is the most awkward moment you’ve experienced while on the job?
When I say goodnight to the couple and they say, “Oh! I thought you left hours ago.” They think that because I keep a low profile at the wedding and get my shots without being in their face all night long. It’s a compliment that doesn’t sound like a compliment at first. So when they say that, it’s a little awkward and it makes me laugh.
What’s the best thing you ever ate at a wedding?
It’s all good. Ice cream! Anything but snails, I guess. Never take the snails if they offer ice cream. Especially if it’s ice cream with filet mignon, I say.
What is your favorite venue and why?
I like venues rich with architecture. I love what that adds to a wedding’s ambience. I like Victorian mansions. Gothic halls. Modern spaces. Some people ooh and ahh over a natural formation like a the Grand Canyon but I’m in awe looking at the Casa Batlló in Barcelona, designed by Antoni Gaudí.
Nikon or Canon?
It takes the magic out of it when we talk about tools. That’s the least of it. Do we really care what size brushes Rembrandt created his paintings with? It’s like asking Ernest Hemingway if he preferred the Royal or the Corona typewriter to write his novels on. Of course the question today I would ask him is, “what’s a typewriter?” [laughs]
What is your dream location to shoot a wedding?
It’s a long shot but, oh if I could only shoot a wedding in my bedroom. I could stay in bed, in my pajamas. My best dress pajamas of course. Stick a camera in my hand and prop me up on a pillow. And then when the wedding’s over I’d already be home. How great would that be? [laughs again] Then I’d get it published on IntimateWeddings.com.
If you could shoot any celebrity wedding (past, present or future), who would be the lucky couple?
It’s funny you ask that actually, because Robin Holland, who’s this well known NYC celebrity photographer, is a big fan of mine. She’s photographed Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese, George Clooney and so many others. She has gallery exhibits, she’s got her photos in magazines around the world, she makes portraits of the leading actors and directors of our time, but weddings terrify her so she’s amazed with my work and thinks I’m brilliant for my ability to do this. Anyway, to answer your question, we have a standing agreement: If George Clooney ever confides in her he’s finally giving up bachelorhood and getting married, she’s telling him he’d be crazy not to call me.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned, and would pass along to other new wedding photographers just getting started?
It’s something I learned from history. Mathew Brady was perhaps the most famous of the Civil War photographers. When he went to the battlefields to photograph soldiers so that they could send a picture back home to mom and dad, he did that because he could make 5 cents a picture. Only later on did the tremendous scope of what he had photographed dawn on him; that he had captured a huge historical record. He went to the Smithsonian to donate it, and they turned him down. They didn’t see the significance of it.
And that’s how I see weddings. Like Brady did. This is history. I’m the documentarian. I’ve captured lives, loves, the customs, rituals and fashions, of my time. One hundred years from now these photos could be on exhibit at the Museum of Natural History in a retrospective of “Weddings, The Life and Times of New Yorkers, circa 2000.” And they’re going to put the wedding albums I made on display in a glass cage. Others will value their great, great, great grandparent’s album kept in their homes as an antique family heirloom.
Every person that’s ever lived, each one of us, lives in an historic era. But no matter when we lived, we see it as just being like any other regular day. During the civil war no one thought, “wow, we’re living during the time Lincoln’s the President.” We never see ourselves as living in history. But we are.
So I learned to have a deep reverence for what I’m photographing. And for what those photographs ultimately mean. Even if they never end up in a retrospective, even if it’s just for one couple for their own use, the photos are that couple’s significant life moments with the most meaningful people they could ever surround themselves with. It’s about showing their beauty, their hopes and aspirations, their passion for each other, their love for their loved ones and dear friends, and how they came together to celebrate their love. It’s their history you’re being entrusted to preserve.
That’s more than just about “taking wedding pictures.”
Thanks so much! For more about G.E. Masana, check out his WeddingPhotoLove profile, or head straight to his website.
What do you think of this dramatic style? Let us know below!