I’m excited to share with you my fourth favorite photographer. He is a huge inspiration to me. Mainly for his business model and “worldly” success. Not that worldly success is what I aspire to. But it is exciting to see him so “successful” because, regardless his success, I really look up to him.
His name is Jim Garner. He’s been in the business for over 15 years. He is based out of Seattle. And, though he is successful enough to be a location photographer. He chooses to stay in Seattle for most of his weddings. He talks about how he likes having “epic Seattle skies” in the background. It’s one of the main reasons I want to move to Seattle.
He teaches at WPPI, his class sells out a day after it opens for enrollment. He also sells DVDs on how to model your business like his.
I attended a workshop that he was guest speaker at. The fact that he would speak, even if only for an hour, was enough for me to pull all the resources I could just to hear him. Even if only for an hour.
Much of what he shared were things I already knew or practiced. I’m not saying that I’m “better” for this. I’m saying it was exciting to learn that I was on the right track. The main things I took away from what he shared was this:
-Use natural light and let the grain happen (just like Tamara lackey). In occasions when extra light is needed he uses a video light instead. He has his assistant hold it up where he needs it. Has them point it at the cake or couple and then turn it off when he’s done with the shot.
-Help guide the day, avoid letting people know your posing them. This is done by simply suggesting things that would happen anyway. You get a shot of the groom glancing at his watch by asking him what time it is. Get him laughing and looking away by making a funny comment to the best man. Buy everyone a round or take the girls out to champagne and just have them hang out, instead of posing them. This way you will simply catch them being themselves and having a good time. And that’s what they’ll remember, having a good time with their best friends.
-Shoot with the wedding album in mind. Asking yourself, “how will this shot help me tell the story in their wedding album.” This challenges you to improve. Knowing that every shot you take is supposed to go in your fine art wedding album. He said, “doing this would cause your artistic skill level to increase ten fold”. That people would call asking about your “art” instead of how much your packages are. This really spoke to me and most everyone else there. I think the majority of us, especially us new wedding photographers, want to have our art desired. I, and we, are doing this because we love it. Not because we’re looking to make a buck. But because we’re artists. And knowing that our art speaks to people, that it blesses them, means everything to us.
-Prioritize the wedding day as an experience. Be involved and help make the day fun.
Jim Garner only does 15 weddings a year! In an interview he says that only three years ago he was doing 50 a year. He had to stop that and started limiting it to 20, and now 15. He points out that at the consultation you are interviewing the couple as much as they’re interviewing you. You have to make sure that you are compatible with each other.
When you get to his website, look for the photo of a couple in a field and a house in the background being struck by lightning. It’s his most famous, and award winning photo. It’s very epic, and the first thing that made me pay attention to him.
Just like Tamara Lackey, one day I will find the courage to tell him what an inspiration he is to me. That he makes me feel like I can do this. He said, “hi” to me when I saw him at the convention. But I just smiled and nodded. I didn’t even have the courage to say, “hi” back. I’m such a dork!
His work is one I look at and say, “I want to be like Jim Garner when I grow up.”
Thanks a lot for letting me share with you. I hope you express your heart in some way today.
God Bless You,