Hello again! Thank you for such a warm welcome into the Pictage community! I have recently had the privilege of interviewing Atlanta wedding photographers, Spencer and Anna Clark about their exciting new project Beyond The Wedding. We believe that it is a great opportunity for photographers all over the nation and we are so excited to be sharing it with you today! So, here are the highlights from my interview with Spencer and Anna… (Photos Courtesy of Anna and Spencer Clark)
Beyond The Wedding can be found online at beyondthewedding.com
Elizabeth Villa: Before we get into the specifics of what Beyond The Wedding is and what it has to offer our readers I would love to know, what is your overall vision for Beyond The Wedding?
Spencer Clark: Our overall vision for Beyond The Wedding is to have a place where wedding photographers can come together, locally in their area and online, to learn and grow as photographers and artists.
EV: What has inspired the vision for Beyond The Wedding?
SC: Well, really – Anna and I found that we rarely ever received real feedback or critique on our wedding photographs. We had tried all the groups we could find in Atlanta for photography critiques – and, well, honestly, they simply didn’t fit. After exhausting all of the options, we decided to simply start our own group for photography critiques – specifically, wedding photography critiques.
We feel it is a very missed and needed aspect for us and to most other wedding photographers. Of course that was the initial inspiration, but after deciding to start Beyond The Wedding, we tried to think of other things we could do, other items to push photographers further – to think beyond the wedding.
EV: What are the different ways our community can become involved?
SC: Ah, now, this is an easy question. There are several ways everyone can become involved (I should mention, this is a completely free organization to join). There are monthly meetings, monthly challenges, monthly beyond the shoots, and online critiques.
EV: Can you share a little more information about the monthly events?
SC: Absolutely, every month we hold a local meeting where all wedding photographers are welcome to bring their photographs in order to have them constructively critiqued in person (this is SO helpful when you’re trying to grow as a photographer). Also, at these meetings is where any one can bring in photographs for the monthly challenges – voting takes place by everyone there, and the winner is featured on beyondthewedding.com’s home page and blog post.
We have four challenges every month – ‘Abstract’, ‘Technical’, ‘Theme’, and ‘Specific’. Past that, there are the local beyond the shoots held once a month – these are very informal practice shoots. We actually just had this idea recently – it was a ‘why isn’t anyone doing this?’ type of idea. Basically, it is literally photographers getting together to practice. No formal agenda, no formal item any one photographer needs to practice – we figure if someone wants a structured, organized, agenda that there are plenty of great workshops they can attend. Beyond the Shoot is just a way to practice together – share ideas and techniques and push each other to become better photographers.
Photo Courtesy of Beyond the Wedding April 2009 Challenge Winner John Schafer
EV: You originally were not intending to have an online presence, but focus on local monthly events, why did you change your mind and what opportunities are now offered online?
You are correct, we actually stayed away from an online presence at first- we really wanted to focus in on local meetings and actually going through the process of printing our own work (something we admit we didn’t do on a monthly basis before). However, it became very clear very fast that online critiques are definitely something that everyone would benefit from. So, now anyone can request a critique of any of their photographs on beyond the wedding under the ’submit’ section.
Moreover, we’re trying to take online critiques a step further – we allow audio comments as critiques. It’s actually really easy to do – anyone with a mic can record one with just the push of a button. I feel this is the real thing online critiques have been lacking – actually hearing other’s voices and inflections. So much can be lost with writing … so, we figured, why not have audio? Most people have a mic built into their computer, and those that don’t can pick one up at any local store (even Target) for less than $20. This is still a new feature on beyondthewedding.com that we’re really excited about.
EV: You mentioned, that Beyond The Wedding is not only for Atlanta photographers, but the vision is for Beyond The Wedding to be active across the nation. How can our readers in other parts of the nation become involved in local Beyond The Wedding activities?
SC: Besides the online opportunities, we’re still looking for individuals in different areas that might want to start up a Beyond The Wedding group in their area. All they have to do is contact us and we’ll help them get one started.
EV: This might be an obvious question but, what makes Beyond The Wedding unique?
SC: Well, as far as we know, we’re the only organization out there hosting local photography critiques specifically for wedding photographers on a monthly basis. Beyond that, there are the local beyond the shoots, monthly challenges, and online critique via the audio comment system.
EV: Finally, What are you most excited about for Beyond The Wedding?
SC: This is a great question! So, everything. Really – everything. To us, this idea wasn’t a hard one to come up with – rather, it was a ‘why not?’, ‘why aren’t people doing this?’ What we’re truly excited about is the vast potential, the potential to ‘raise the bar’. We believe that monthly critiques are SO valuable. Honest feedback is SO valuable. Getting feedback, getting a chance to practice, having a local group and community that you can share with and learn together … all of this … basically, the ability to help everyone become better photographers than they are today and build a strong community for wedding photographers as a whole – that’s what we’re excited about.
EV: As I mentioned before, we are so excited for Beyond The Wedding and wish you the best of luck as you continue with this new endeavor! Thank you again for taking the time to speak with me and tell our community about the exciting new opportunities at Beyond The Wedding (beyondthewedding.com).
Written by: Elizabeth Villa (Pictage Blog Team)