There are a lot of things that have to come together to make a good photographer. Firstly you need to know your equipment inside out - it should become muscle memory, your second nature. You also need to study light, colour and composition - this is something you really don’t ever stop learning. It is about discipline. Once you have those things under control you can call yourself a photographer, but I think what people hire great photographers for is one step further again. It is their sensitivity.
If your heart is not warm and if your heart is not open, you are just not going to notice certain things. Wedding photography is about finding something really beautiful, in a moment, in a person. How people look at each other or smile shyly. Even in the way someone holds a cup of tea. Only when you see certain things and feel them, you can then capture them and tell that story. You can show their beauty and I don’t mean it in a superficial sense. I mean the beauty of the human spirit and delicate things like intimacy, love, and human connection.
I wanted to share with you today some images from a journey I took in November last year. It was a soul searching journey with a group of amazing photographers. At least once a year I try to go somewhere to influence the way I think and see, to change my perspective. This time I went to India.
It is quite hard to describe an experience as complex as this one. On one hand it was an amazing adventure, it made me feel alive. Everything was like a sensory overload: the colours, the smell, the light. All the exotic bits. It was a feast for an artist but also for a human. At some parts of the journey I was travelling with 17 other photographers from 5 different countries. It is really precious to be able to be open with your colleagues and get their perspective on stuff like photography, running a business, creativity… to see how everyone lives their passion in different places around the world.
Stopmotion film by Echo and Earl
I could really write a lot about the trip, but what I want to focus on now is the part that was particularly dear to me. I was part of just a small group who travelled to a place called Rajahmundry, in the middle of nowhere, somewhere in Southern India. Our friends Caroline & Jayden have been doing a lot of work there over the years with the local orphanage which is also connected to a sewing school and their Elephant Landing project.
I think everyone should have something that inspires them to get out of bed and work hard day after day. For me that thing is LOVE. I don’t only mean big romantic love in the Hollywood kind of way. By love I also mean kindness, lovely small gestures, the beauty of commitment, the fact that people can count on each other, support of the community and family, amazing friendships. A lot of those things I witness on the wedding day and that always moves me deeply. I guess in my own life they aren’t always present though. For me the trip to the orphanage was my way of sharing my little bit of love. Bringing a little light into lives of those kids. It might seem like a mad idea - going across the world to hug a bunch of kids and have a fun day or two with them. Deep down I felt I had to go there, but I also was sceptical. I guess before the trip I perceived charities who do work in places like Africa, Asia or South America very differently. I always imagined that the scale of problem is so big that it can’t possibly make any significant difference. That the situation is so bad that the little money we can send is like a drop in the ocean. Something that I wasn’t expecting and something that only actually being there would highlight for me was that stuff like that really makes a difference. Even a little bit of money or good work can really make lasting difference. It can inspire someone and change their heart forever. I saw many living examples of how people who once, even long time ago were influenced and kept passing on the good to others. So I stopped looking at help like a drop in an ocean, but more like a little stone that can start an avalanche.
Leaving the orphanage I felt sad, but it didn’t feel like a farewell. I had a strong feeling that this wasn’t the last time I would be there. I felt that what I done so far was nowhere near enough. I feel that I am still not done.
After coming back from India I feel different. I feel inspired and not only in a visual sense, although that was of course a big and important part of it, but I feel inspired as a human being. I fell in love with humanity again. It made me appreciate that love and ability to give love to others is really the most precious thing we have. It is something that definitely keeps me feeling fresh. After shooting weddings for 7 years, it is not the shoes that you take a beautiful photo of that is going to inspire you. We need beautiful things around us, but it is the human connection that keeps it all going for me. And sometimes you just have to take a step back and look at the bigger picture and learn how to be vulnerable and how to love again.