There’s beauty in honesty captured on camera; a poetry that lies in truth unfeigned. While styled frames have their allure, it’s the raw, unguarded captures that speak directly to our souls.
Photojournalism is a style that lends so beautifully to weddings. Chronicling every detail of a wedding through artful frames – it’s a way of storytelling that feels so powerful and potent. It’s an art form that requires a deep intuition, a wildly curious mind and careful precision.
One of our favorite photographers taking a journalistic approach is LA-based Katherine Ann Rose – an artist with a crisp, cinematic aesthetic, Katherine’s light-filled frames spill with emotion and authentic expression. We caught up with Katherine to find out what drives her emotive work and the magic behind her intimate captures…
“I want to create photos where the love is palpable, to reveal the depth of what the couple already feels. Our own feelings are not visually obvious to ourselves, so when a couple loves each other, they’re sometimes strangers to what this love looks like. I help them see themselves the way others do.”
What is it that you love about photographing weddings?
A wedding is such an all-encompassing experience for a couple. During a portrait or fashion shoot, a moment is constructed to elicit emotion from the subject. But during a wedding, the subjects are so genuinely engaged in the events of the day, that they offer me a very pure window into their emotions, which allows for uncontrived moments to be captured. When the excitement of the day is buzzing all around, couples are free to express themselves truthfully. A wedding is a huge event, but it can feel like it goes by really quickly, and it can feel melancholy when you realize that you only get to experience it once before it becomes a memory. So I do what I can to hold on to a piece of the real moments of the day.
When I photographed my first wedding, I realized I found the work that allows me to be curious and share the way I see the world. I’m so moved by the experience of love being generated organically, and people being open to emotional intimacy.
Your approach to shooting weddings is anchored in the photojournalistic style. What do you think is so powerful about this style of photography and why does it resonate with you?
I love that a wedding is creating a foundation which sets up a couple for what will hopefully be a long happy life together. That I get to be there while this foundation is being built is exhilarating, and something I don’t take for granted. The gift I get to return to the couple is a mirror back at themselves and their own moments of joy. It’s obvious but important to remember that we don’t know what we look like when we’re in the midst of feeling something special because the moment totally overwhelms us.
My document of the day allows subjects to see themselves from outside that special moment, and by doing so, feel something close to it again. I want to create photos where the love is palpable, to reveal the depth of what the couple already feels. Our own feelings are not visually obvious to ourselves, so when a couple loves each other, they’re sometimes strangers to what this love looks like. I help them see themselves the way others do.
What can couples expect when working with a documentary-style photographer on their wedding day?
One of my main priorities is making sure that my couples get to actually enjoy their day. Of course, I want to get the best photos, but when they think back on their wedding I want them to think of all the unique interactions they had with their guests and each other, not the interactions they had with me. And anyway, the most authentic reactions are often evoked when I am an inconspicuous fly on the wall. I’m looking hard for moments which are unscripted, unrehearsed, and authentic. Trust is a big part of it too. Sometimes the emotions of the day are not simply joy, but contain elements of vulnerability too…people only share these vulnerabilities with people who help them they feel safe.
Sometimes though, there are times when I have to direct the action a little bit. I have a toolkit of tips and tricks to facilitate comfort with the couple. What’s interesting is that often these tips seek to do the same thing that the wedding itself does, which is to make them forget that they are being photographed and just feel completely present. Often I feel that I have done my job well when a couple looks through their photos and is surprised by a photograph of a special moment that they remember experiencing alone.
While your photography beautifully narrates the unguarded, emotional moments of the day, it also depicts all the stylish details. How do you balance the line between documentary and editorial?
When photographing a wedding, I’m creating a narrative. Giving people a full portfolio transports them back to the day, allowing them to re-experience it. Often the image of a candle or flower can draw out a memory that lay dormant. I try to remember also that a wedding is like a piece of art which has been created by, and represents, the couple acting as one. So the photos I give to them with the details I include, allow them to see the unique creation they have made together.
More practically, there is so much that they themselves will miss about this huge day… I love being able to give them access to a part of their own party that they might not have been able to experience on the day. Documentary photography is about looking hard. That means paying attention, capturing special moments as they happen, and also looking for the most interesting way to shoot the unique details which surround the day.
“Often I feel that I have done my job well when a couple looks through their photos and is surprised by a photograph of a special moment that they remember experiencing alone.”
What is it that stirs your soul artistically? Who are the artists, photographers, creatives that inspire you?
I’m drawn to anything that makes me feel something. Some of my favorite photographers and artists include Dorothea Lange, there is so much honesty in her work, Diane Arbus, Vivian Maier, Gustav Klimt, Picasso – I can’t explain why, but I know these make me feel something. Words aren’t my medium, but yet, I feel so much, and sometimes I don’t want to use words. That’s why I’m grateful for the visual language I have. Art can hold so much and mean so many different things to different people, or different things to a person at various stages in their life, simply because it hasn’t had meaning tattooed onto it with words.
What is something you’ve discovered this year, personally or professionally?
Lately, I’ve learnt that two things can be true at once and that paradox is at the heart of existence. I think we’re now constantly made aware of the pain, suffering and impermanence which makes up the human experience, but a wedding is a beautiful ritual when we stop and celebrate all that we have which is good. A marriage is not a wedding, so although there may be struggle in the marriage, the wedding in its creation, is still something true and beautiful. In a world where moments and emotions can feel disposable and binary, I try my best to make work that feels timeless and rich enough for it to contain emotional resonance for a couple throughout their lives together.
What’s coming up next for you?
Art is about constant growth and constant practice. I respect my work enough to know that the process of getting better is the process of being alive. Photography is an example of the “permanent practice”. As my technical skills have increased, I can now take more time to slow down creatively, to be more present, and spend more time really looking. I love finding new ways to develop new incarnations of Los Angeles, the city I live in, while also enjoying the inspiration brought by travel, meeting new people, and growing intellectually. I remember also that each couple is unique, and so every project is an alchemical combination which brings together something from them and something from me. No wedding is the same and there is no formula, but in this fluidity, there is fertile ground for new art to grow.
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