I recently had the pleasure of working with Elizabeth Etienne on a wedding at historic Cicada Restaurant downtown. We got to chatting about working abroad, and I fell in love with the beautiful photos she has shot in Paris, elsewhere in France, and around the world. But you know my heart belongs in le Paris…and I thought my fellow Franco-philes would enjoy hearing about her experiences working in the City of Light, and how to choose the right photographer for you (if she’s already booked, of course!).
1. Describe what makes a destination wedding in Paris so special.
Experiencing Paris is like stepping back in time. It’s is like a page in an old romance novel – from the grand stately buildings to the tiny shops on narrow cobblestone streets. You can be in the center of a bustling metropolis and turn a corner and feel as though you’re in a small medieval village miles away. It’s charming, romantic, and elegant all wrapped up in one location, so it’s the ideal location for a wedding photographer like myself. I am a hopeless romantic, a lover of everything vintage and I’m of French decent. Having lived many years in Paris back in the 90’s, and the fact that I speak French almost fluently, enables me to know all the key locations and how to get around the city quickly and easily.
2. What advice would you give to brides and grooms searching for the right photographer?
You only do this once so there is no time to practice or shoot it over again. A wedding photographer should be a part of the joy of the day, and a not a stress contributor. Contrary to popular belief shooting a “wedding” requires a VERY special skill set, apart from any other kind of photography. Having expensive gear and a creative eye for composition simply isn’t enough. A great wedding photographer must wear many hats. He or she must know how to do numerous things at once, under the pressures of an emotion-charged day and a tight “photography” timeline. He or she must be a producer , therapist, director, technician, and artist all wrapped up in one! First and foremost the photographer must plan in advance how and where he will be shooting, and to be a “people person”. This means he or she must be demonstrative enough to coordinate groups or direct an intimate portrait quickly while maintaining a professional and entertaining attitude. When things don’t go exactly as planned (and we all know they never do), the photographer must know just the right thing to say and do to calm the nerves of a frantic bride, and always have a plan B.
The photographer must also be technically proficient with the photographic equipment. Despite the advancements in digital photography technology, professional cameras, lenses and flash are still very complex devices. When something malfunctions the photographer must know how to fix it rapidly or have a back up device readily available. A great wedding photographer must also be a great artist – know how and where to find or create magnificent lighting, the right angles, expressions and poses in and around a given location and create dynamic images on the fly. Yes, it can be daunting and stressful, but a “skilled and experienced wedding” photographer can handle it all.
3. What are your thoughts on the current state of wedding photography? What innovations you have developed to stay ahead of the curve?
Great images deserve a great presentation. After the shoot, I truly enjoy the end process of combining images into cool, innovative coffee table books or a creative slideshow presentation you can watch on the internet or even your Ipad! Adding dissolves and music is like an artsy movie that allows the viewer to create their own dialogue. Gone are the days of the traditional, formal bulky wedding albums. The trend now is to create lightweight art books one might buy in a bookstore. These unique a la carte products and services are just one of many I offer my clients. (See all Elizabeth as to offer at her website, www.eephoto.com.)
Elizabeth Etienne is an award-winning photographer/author/photo coach. She is proudly endorsed by Nikon and Kodak and many other industry leaders. When she’s not shooting she teaches other photographers through her photography workshops (in France and Italy) private consulting sessions and her numerous books. For more information on her photography services please go to: http://www.eephoto.com. For more information on her educational products and services go to http://www.destinationphotoworkshops.com.