Some weeks ago I read a book where the new husband promised his new wife to show the sea some day after the wedding. They lived in a countryside, some 100 km from the sea. As years passed, they had a newborn son and daughter. But the promise was never fulfilled by the husband. Daily life took their time. But the wife never stopped thinking about the sea, how it is to see the horizon and feel the wind in open space. When their daughter was grown up, she took her mother to the seaside and showed her the sea… It changed their lives. In the book the story continues, but my story reflects a similar feeling.
Last week I went to the Baltic Wedding Contest in Tallinn for the first time. I felt similar. It is somehow to see the sea for the first time. To leave my backyard and go further. I know there are bigger and deeper seas to see and even oceans. But I’m not talking about visiting Estonia or Tallinn, this story is more about photographers’ sea, about neighbors and other photographers in the world. About me and my feelings in this sea.
When my friends discovered that there will be Jonas Peterson in this year’s jury, there was no doubt – I must go there.
To participate I sent 3 images from 2014 weddings favorite’s folder. One of them got through to the public judging and since this image got the 1st place in the Latvian Wedding contest, there was a hope :). To see my image on a big screen and wait for the points is quite stressful process. Yes or No, good or bad, there are not a lot of variations. My picture got 80 points and didn’t get to the finals. 1 hour for sorrow and lets move on. (There still was a hope for Aiga’s picture, she got 94 points in Glamour portrait category.) After the judging we went to F-Hoone, a really great place and food in Tallinn.
In the second day of this event there were artist talks for what I’m grateful for. The lectures brought back those good feelings, when I started to make photos. Markus Bell was a surprise for me. I appreciate him as a photographer, even it is not my style of photography. But he is a great teacher. He had a really well organized presentation and a good sense of the big picture. Looking through my notebook I have taken a lot of notes. He talks a lot about photographer’s inner voice in life and photography, relationships with clients and people. Value each and every client, be remarkable, original and give more than they ask. And know where you are going.
There are a lot of questions for me, which I am afraid to ask myself. As a photographer I am trying to balance on two roads at the same time. There is some desire in the contemporary art photography and the wedding photography world. These two are so different and so hard to combine. Maybe this is only a mindset.
In two months I’m going to be officially full time photographer. Last 8 years I had a second job to do, but it is time to move on. It scares a bit, because there are many unknow questions.
Or only one – how to fill this full time photographer’s timetable with work, which makes me happy and fills the fridge.
How I met Jonas Peterson
The main reason why I went to this year’s Baltic Wedding Contest was Jonas Peterson’s visit in Tallinn. I don’t know when and how, but some years ago I found Jonas’ blog and saw his wedding pictures.
My photography road started with old film cameras and somehow this was the first connection point I saw in his work. In Latvia there are no good examples from the past in the wedding industry (it is hard to call it as an industry). Young photographers are bringing all this to a new level. That’s why it was important for me to find a good inspiration point somewhere else.
Jonas talks about connecting with people, to feel your clients and to be comfortable in the same mindset. His goal is to make people cry when they get their wedding pictures. Cry for happiness and joy. Clients must see real human behind the photographer’s profession. To see what he likes and to get better clue about photographer’s taste and feel. Photographer should write or show his life, because it creates trust. A wedding is one of the special days in their lives and it should be captured with soul and heart. It is easier to trust if you can get more sense about person behind the camera. Jonas is a storyteller in his blog, in his wedding pictures and even in his lecture.
My connection points in this case are – in some level I want to be like him. To do what I like (and what I do best), to meet great people, to travel and see the world. To live and relive great moments in other people lives. But I live in Latvia, small country near the Baltic sea. We have 3-4 summer months and post soviet taste in the society. It is not Australia and I am not Jonas. I can feel a big empathy towards him, but at the same time – we all have our own way to go.
My name is Girts and I am a wedding photographer. There are a lot of options to do things better than I do. In 10 days I will go to the first destination wedding in Italy, Sicily. I will do my best and I will go this extra mile, with a smile and joy.
The best weddings which stay in my mind are those, where after the event I feel like this wedding was my friends wedding. The weddings where I can cry and feel the same feelings as the relatives or guests. Not a stranger for the day. I want to feel close and accepted. It creates an energy and reason to be in this world.
Yes, about Peterson – he is like a friend from a book, but at the same time a real person. I just wanted to say Hello! , but it’s not easy, because I am a bit shy person. It takes a lot of pressure. And there is a stereotype the famous persons are a bit cold and bla bla bla.
His presentation showed that he is a really nice person. Open and friendly. Me and my Latvian photographer friends took a chance to talk to him. We said thanks for coming to Estonia (36 h flight is not easy) and ask some more questions. I am really sorry for the mist opportunity to participate in his workshop. At the first moment 700 euros seems a big price for one day workshop (In Latvia there you can live a 1 month for this money, it is an average month salary) But now I know, it is worth any cent for this inspiration and knowledge.
I believe there will be a second chance.
I will learn how to connect in my way.
There is some really good thought in Katrina’s blog about Jonas Peterson lecture – it is written in Estonian, but I could get some idea reading this with google translation :D –
She asked Jonas –
“Should the Baltic states photographers who want to become more widely known blog in English?” The answer was short: yes. Here I am, constantly switching between the two languages, and just at this time, as defiance, I decided to write for now in Estonian language. I’m not yet ready :)”
I think that you and I – all the Baltic states wedding photographers are ready to share our way and story in English. It is a bit hard (uhh.. I was one of the worst students in my English grammar class) – but I will try! (As you see, this is one of the longest blog posts I ever made even in Latvian.)
About the contest.
In a nice hotel restaurant was there was fancy dinner and award ceremony.
Final results in three categories – Wedding, Portrait and Nature
- Latvian photographers got 2 places
- Estonians – 20
- Lithuanians – 18
(There were some for Finland, UK and Portugal)
I know, I know – it is not about competition, it’s all about people and their memories. We – the wedding photographers – are working for people not for some awards – but still, I want to grow and do those things better.
Somehow Lithuanians and Estonians are doing better in the competition. They are better photographers or they submit more photos. It makes me think about Latvians and myself.
It was a really helpful weekend with mixed feelings but good lessons learned. The hardest part is ahead – to go these extra miles and to do a better job in everyday’s events.
6 hours drive from Tallinn to Riga gave me a big amount of time to think. I am I, You are You – Jonas Peterson sums it up in a short video – Jonas Peterson in Youtube – Be better you for yourself. Good luck for all of us :).
Hope to see you all soon.