weddings

New Work From July 2018 by Bradley Hanson

July has been a busy month, including a 4100 mile drive to and from a wedding in Washington State at Lake Quinault on the Olympic Peninsula. My son Miles assisted me at the wedding, and it was a great road trip with some fascinating audiobooks, sightseeing and restaurants. While I'm sorting out what's going in the portfolio and what's going to be featured on the blog and what's going to be submitted to magazines, here is an assortment of 23 random highlights from the month of July.

Clicking any image below will open it up at a larger size.

St. Paul, MN

Badlands, SD

Lake Quinault, WA

St. Paul, MN

Ocean Shores, WA

St. Paul, MN

Gillette, WY

Ocean Shores, WA

Livingston, MT

Minneapolis, MN

Ocean Shores, WA

St. Paul, MN

Stillwater, MN

Seattle, WA

St. Paul, MN

Minneapolis, MN

Minneapolis, MN

Stillwater, MN

Minneapolis, MN

Seattle, WA

George, Washington

Columbia River Gorge in George, Washington

Badlands, SD

You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, VSCO, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn through the links on the upper right.

To see more Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN portraits, wedding photography and weddings all over the world, visit my main portfolio on bradleyhanson.com or email me at info@bradleyhanson.com or call me at 206-393-8292 and we can discuss your wedding plans in detail. My speciality is shooting family portraits in an unposed, natural style and wedding photojournalism. I photograph weddings as they happen rather than direct the action, which is often referred to as documentary style wedding photography. I’ve photographed weddings in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Seattle and many countries around the world.

To listen to the bi-weekly photography podcast I do with UK photographer Ian Weldon, visit https://www.outerfocuspodcast.com or search for Outerfocus on Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts.

Outerfocus Photography Podcast Episode 15! by Bradley Hanson

outerfocus-15.jpg

A little over 6 months ago, UK photographer Ian Weldon asked me if I would co-host his new photography podcast with him. Ian is a funny guy, brutally honest, a talented photographer and an all around good egg. He and I "met" online many years ago through a disagreement. I respected the way he handled himself in sharing his opinion without emotional complications, and we stayed in touch. I respect his work and his approach. 

I had no idea how the podcast would go other than the basic concept: Each week, we invite a current photographer who's portfolio we love to chat with us about their work AND discuss a photographer in history about their role in pushing the boundaries and/or moving photography forward. 

This has had a number of positive benefits, including refreshing myself with the originators of photography from the early 1800s onwards. We started with Daguerrotypes and recently covered Mathew Brady (best known as THE Civil War photographer), as well as Eadweard Muybridge (who dabbled in animation and taught us how horses run through cameras he built himself). 

We talk about everything: the things we love about photography, the photographers and photography books that we found inspirational, and the good and bad about the current state of the industry. Ian and I both shoot weddings, but we have been conscious about getting a diverse group of photographers from other kinds of photography so we can get a wide range of work and opinions.

There is a lot of laughter during conversations that are often highly philosophical, and that's made the weekly ritual even more enjoyable. I don't pretend to have all the answers. While I've had 18 years of experience shooting professionally, I will always consider myself a student of the medium and am always seeking to improve and deepen my understanding of both the craft and the world.

We started a weekly tradition where I ask each guest what photography book was the first one they ever bought, or what was the most inspirational book to them. Ian has been building a "library" of these books on the Outerfocus website, divided between Amazon UK and Amazon US sites. If you buy one of these books through the link, you pay the same price, but we get a tiny reward to help us continue the podcast. It's a great list so far and a useful resource for discovering the work of photographers you might not be familiar with. In a world where more and more things are moving online, physical media, particularly photography books, can be even more rewarding as they don't require power or a password and they aren't subject to obsolescence from being in unreadable formats...

I feel grateful to be a part of this podcast, and while it can be complicated chatting with photographers in 3 separate time zones, it continues to be significantly more engaging and rewarding than I could have imagined.

To listen to the current episode (or any of the 15 thus far), follow this link or subscribe for free via iTunes. If you enjoy the podcast, don't be afraid to leave an honest review and let us know what you liked and what you didn't, including what you'd like to hear or photographers you'd love to listen to.

Thanks for listening!

You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, VSCO, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn through the links on the upper right.

To see more Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN portraits, wedding photography and weddings all over the world, visit my main portfolio on bradleyhanson.com or email me at info@bradleyhanson.com or call me at 206-393-8292 and we can discuss your wedding plans in detail. My speciality is shooting family portraits in an unposed, natural style and wedding photojournalism. I photograph weddings as they happen rather than direct the action, which is often referred to as documentary style wedding photography. I’ve photographed weddings in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Seattle and many countries around the world.

To listen to the bi-weekly photography podcast I do with UK photographer Ian Weldon, visit https://www.outerfocuspodcast.com or search for Outerfocus on Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts.

Inspiration by Bradley Hanson

winogrand-1964-cover_1400.jpg

Artists and photographers often talk about being inspired by other artists, usually in terms of an artist's body or work or a specific book. I had a moment like that in 1988 when I bought a Ralph Gibson book called "Tropism" at the Walker Art Center bookshop. I had taken various art and photography classes at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and had been exposed to the usual Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Klein, Robert Frank, Diane Arbus, etc that are discussed in photography classes. I opened the book "Tropism" and suddenly I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up as the wave of excitement washed over me. The tightly composed, minimalist, high contrast B&W images reverberated with me in a way that nothing else had. 

I was already shooting with a 50mm lens. I didn't feel like I was doing anything compelling with it, but I stuck it out, trying to improve. After seeing the Gibson book, I suddenly saw the 50mm as a very exciting option, in stark contrast to it's reputation as a "normal" (and therefore, unexciting) lens. Seeing Ralph's work opened my eyes to the possibilities with this lens, and while I lived in a very different world that Gibson's NYC photographs, I started getting closer to my subjects and composing to crop out extraneous and non-essential visual components. Being exposed to what was possible transformed this seemingly bland lens into an exciting tool of limitless possibilities.

In the mid 1980s, film cameras (we just called them "cameras" at the time) were either sold as bodies or with the 50mm lens as kits. When I bought my first camera at age 15, the Minolta X-700, I bought the 50mm f1.7 with it using the money from my first paycheck ever.

My first photographs, of course, were breathtakingly bad. I stuck with it, eventually shooting for my high school newspaper, yearbook and every chance I could get with my normal life. I carried a camera everywhere with me, a practice I still continue to this day despite shooting most photographs with my iPhone 7 Plus. 

Because I wasn't yet moved by my own photographs, I naively assumed that the real problem was the 50mm lens. I loved cinematography and noticed that most images, particularly in Kubrick's movies, were taken with wide angle lenses and to a lesser degree, telephoto lenses. I didn't think I'd ever get where I wanted to be with a 50mm lens. This would later prove to be false, but that was my thinking at the time. It's a common misconception: new equipment and new lenses almost never inspire new work or new ways of seeing. One exception was the Hasselblad XPAN, a panoramic film camera that yields 65mm x 24mm negatives on 35mm film, but that's a story for another time.

Enter the 28mm lens. My first successful image with this focal length was also the first image I ever sold.

Duluth, MN (1989)

Duluth, MN (1989)

Anyway, back to our story.

I was repeatedly seeing Garry Winogrand's work in various books (keep in mind, there was no internet to Google search) and knew he worked primarily with a 28mm. His work, at the time, looked messy and sloppy to me, devoid of compositional purpose. Some of this was my own way of processing that it was simply too much information for me. I was attracted to the minimal, clean, simple compositions I had seen in "Tropism."

Many years later, on another visit to an art exhibit and another trip to the Walker Art Center bookshop, I stumbled across a book called "1964" by Garry Winogrand. First of all, it had a beautiful, clean, vibrant, cold-tone color cover with a family seemingly picnicking in space (White Sands, New Mexico) that grabbed me immediately. I had no idea who they were or why they were in the middle of nowhere, but I couldn't stop looking at it. I didn't even notice the name "Winogrand" because I was so captivated by the photograph. It contains nearly 200 photographs, but I excitedly thumbed through it and bought their only copy, based mostly on the cover. I still have that book to this day.

This is not only one of the best books of photography I have to this day, but the cover image alone has deeply imprinted in my brain and affected the way I see the world. I think of the image often and some of it's compositional elements have snuck their way into my own work.

As always, I look forward to the next book or image to do that. Just like music, there is a feeling that comes from a photograph where all notes hit in the right place and you suddenly feel like the world is a wonderful place.

In the Outerfocus podcast I do weekly with UK photographer Ian Weldon, I ask each guest what photography book they bought first or what book changed the way they look at photography. What book was the most important to the way you see the world?

To listen to the podcast, follow this link or look up Outerfocus on iTunes. We also have links to the books Ian, myself and the guest photographers have recommended during the podcast.

The image below wasn't my first published image, but I was surprised that it was a contest winning image in the 2004 PDN "Top Knots" wedding contest. Also taken with a 28mm lens on film, lit only with sparklers.

Seattle, WA (2001)

Seattle, WA (2001)

This article was also published at outerfocuspodcast.com

You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, VSCO, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn through the links on the upper right.

To see more Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN portraits, wedding photography and weddings all over the world, visit my main portfolio on bradleyhanson.com or email me at info@bradleyhanson.com or call me at 206-393-8292 and we can discuss your wedding plans in detail. My speciality is shooting family portraits in an unposed, natural style and wedding photojournalism. I photograph weddings as they happen rather than direct the action, which is often referred to as documentary style wedding photography. I’ve photographed weddings in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Seattle and many countries around the world.

To listen to the bi-weekly photography podcast I do with UK photographer Ian Weldon, visit https://www.outerfocuspodcast.com or search for Outerfocus on Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts.

Summer Wedding Season In Full Swing by Bradley Hanson

It's been a very busy summer with even more travel than usual. I was in Seattle for weddings and portraits 3 weekends in 5 weeks! My first priority is always getting images to clients as quickly as possible, but I'll be posting some more weddings in the coming days, as well as writing on another magazine article and portfolio for Olympus Passion Magazine while I'm also testing various Sony A7 cameras and Zeiss lenses. I'll be updating my portfolio(s) soon and featuring a couple weddings and portrait sessions in the blog. Until then, here are 30 images since my last major blog posting that aren't in any portfolio yet. Stay tuned...

Click the first image below to scroll through gallery at actual size

You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, VSCO, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn through the links on the upper right.

To see more Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN portraits, wedding photography and weddings all over the world, visit my main portfolio on bradleyhanson.com or email me at info@bradleyhanson.com or call me at 206-393-8292 and we can discuss your wedding plans in detail. My speciality is shooting family portraits in an unposed, natural style and wedding photojournalism. I photograph weddings as they happen rather than direct the action, which is often referred to as documentary style wedding photography. I’ve photographed weddings in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Seattle and many countries around the world.

To listen to the bi-weekly photography podcast I do with UK photographer Ian Weldon, visit https://www.outerfocuspodcast.com or search for Outerfocus on Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts.

Assumptions, Photography And The Micro Four Thirds System Article In The Debut Issue Of Olympus Passion Magazine by Bradley Hanson

You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, VSCO, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn through the links on the upper right.

To see more Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN portraits, wedding photography and weddings all over the world, visit my main portfolio on bradleyhanson.com or email me at info@bradleyhanson.com or call me at 206-393-8292 and we can discuss your wedding plans in detail. My speciality is shooting family portraits in an unposed, natural style and wedding photojournalism. I photograph weddings as they happen rather than direct the action, which is often referred to as documentary style wedding photography. I’ve photographed weddings in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Seattle and many countries around the world.

To listen to the bi-weekly photography podcast I do with UK photographer Ian Weldon, visit https://www.outerfocuspodcast.com or search for Outerfocus on Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts.

My Interview With Andrew Hellmich Of Photo Biz XPosed by Bradley Hanson

Bride and ringbearer at Washington DC wedding

Bride and ringbearer at Washington DC wedding

I was just interviewed by Andrew Hellmich of the Australian photography blog Photo Biz XPosed. Andrew is an insightful photographer and isn't afraid to dig deeper than the usual questions, which in today's photography culture far too often begin and end with "what camera should I use?" and "what is your post-production workflow?" I'd much rather talk about art, ideas, and how the industry has changed. It's 77 minutes long, so get a comfortable chair if you are interested: http://photobizx.com/TPX11-Bradley-Hanson-Photography-Podcast-Interview

Andrew has interviewed a lot of interesting photographers, including my friends Ian Weldon and Joao de Medeiros. You can listen to any and all of them here at the Photo Biz XPosed website.

Photographer Spotlight Interview With Junebug Weddings by Bradley Hanson

Toast at wedding at Woodmark Hotel in Kirkland, WA

Inspired by films such as Delicatessen and Amelie, Bradley Hanson’s work mimics the visual storytelling of cinematography.  We are constantly moved by his inventive and fresh approach, which doesn’t bend to trends or fads. Honestly, it’s the simplicity of his images that differentiates his work the most. Like the image above, which utilizes simple table items in the foreground rather than the couple. The dramatic use of lighting subtly shifts your perspective of the entire dinner scene. With over 600 weddings under his belt, Bradley’s 16 year career in wedding photography is worth sharing and we hope you will enjoy learning more about this talented Minnesota wedding photographer. Enjoy!

Sunset toast at a winery wedding reception in Sonoma, CA

If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

That’s easy: the ability to fly. I have a lot of recurring dreams about flying. In the dreams, I show my friends that I can fly. When they are in front of me, I work really hard and can only get off the ground a bit at first, then soar over them. I don’t know what this means! I have a friend that has a great theory: in your dreams, you are EVERY character because it’s your subconscious creating every character. I think this dream means that I am capable of greatness, but don’t feel that I’m demonstrating it yet. I’m very hard on myself. I recognize the images that really resonate with me, but I keep pushing myself to always look at the world (and weddings) in new ways to keep my eye fresh. One of the great things about flying is that it would give me another perspective on weddings that I rarely get unless I am shooting a venue with multiple floors. Of course, now that video guys are using drones….

Wedding at Newcastle Golf Club in Seattle, WA

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?

Selling frozen beef over the phone as a telemarketer when I was a teenager. I lasted two days and quit on the lunch break of my third day. I couldn’t take the repetition or the rejection. I am more sympathetic to telemarketers, but it really is better to hang up right away than to let them finish their pitch…

Bride getting ready at her home in Redmond, WA

Who and what gives you ideas and inspiration?

I get ideas all the time, mostly from day to day life, from my wife and from my children. I look at photography a lot, but I actually am more inspired visually by good cinematography rather than still photography. My favorite movies are also my favorite movies visually, all by the same French director: Jean Jeunet, who directed, in order of release: Delicatessen, City Of Lost Children, Amelie, A Very Long Engagement and Mic Macs. The cinematographer for all of this films is Bruno Delbonnel. Absolutely surreal and brilliant. Every frame is a masterpiece. I watch them over and over and every time I see something new.

Bride at the Rainier Club in Seattle, WA

With weddings, everyone seems like they are trying to imitate each other. They go to workshops to try to find out the secrets of others. You can get great insight from other photographers, but I try to not look at wedding photography because I want to do something different than what is already being done and work outside of current trends. I want to create timeless images that will look just as good in 50 years as they do to the couple being photographed today. My wife and I love to do road trips and to travel, and I love the peacefulness of being out on the road and seeing new things.

Sparkler exit at midnight at Salty's in Seattle, WA. This was a winning image in PDN (Photo District News) "Top Knots" wedding photography contest in 2004.

It’s also important to get OUT of your comfort zone, whatever it happens to be. If you are in a groove with a specific lens, try working only with a different lens to shake things up. Sometimes this simple act can be revolutionary. I’ve found that less is more with equipment, particularly lenses. I used to have an enormous suitcase of gear and lighting that I lugged around. Now I bring 3 cameras and 5 lenses and that covers everything I can ever need. I shoot most weddings with two lenses, using the others for specific situations (being too close or too far away from things, etc). If you are scared about what you are doing, it usually means you are about to do something GREAT.

Bride and ringbearer at wedding in Washington, DC

What is your favorite moment or tradition at weddings?

I have to admit I am usually so focused on what I am doing that I don’t always listen to what people are saying because I am always actively looking for great moments and great lighting. I am a deeply visual person and I get trapped inside my own head trying to do my best for all of my clients.

First dance at Bell Harbor on Pier 66 in Seattle, WA

I keep pushing myself to look at weddings (and the world) in new ways. Despite that, I always listen carefully to the couple’s vows and the speeches at the reception. I’ve heard some great ones. Ones that make me laugh, cry, think about my own life and my own marriage and about how lucky I am to have been doing this for 16 years. I’ve heard speeches so good that I was disappointed when they ended. If I could have written everything down and turned it in as a college level English essay, I would have gotten an A+.

Bride about to see groom for the first time at Woodmark Hotel in Kirkland, WA

How has witnessing so many weddings impacted your life/outlook?

There is some overlap with this and a previous question, but I’m reminded on a weekly basis to always look for the best in other people, my wife, my family and my friends. I respect that this couple has entrusted me to allow me deeply into some very personal and private moments for 6 to 12 hours and that I have to blend in to allow them to be themselves and help them have a great day. Despite the wedding traditions and cultures, we all want to be loved and to have someone to open up to completely. We want someone who accepts and loves us unconditionally the way we love our own children. I’ve learned that the way people interact with others is what is going on in their own heads at that moment, so never take anything personally because you really have no idea what another person’s own experience is like at any given moment. In the 16 years I’ve been shooting weddings, I’m actually much more optimistic about life and love.

Bride getting ready at wedding in Vancouver, BC

Marriage is easy at the start because it’s usually relatively early in the relationship, but making it work and making the relationship *better* is where the real work comes in. You have to put the other person first and want each day to be an opportunity to be even closer than yesterday. It takes patience. It takes understanding. It’s not what people are thinking on their wedding day, but love is not enough, as much as I love that great song by The Beatles. You have to love each other AND you have to be committed to helping each other be the best versions of yourself that you can be. You have to be happy enough to love yourself and have the capacity to love, understand and appreciate the person you are marrying.

Bride in the wind at National Cathedral in Washington, DC

Most importantly, I am so happy and grateful that I have been earning a living for 16 years doing what I love and being part of over 600 weddings. Seeing couples with a deep connection is a source of inspiration and joy, and I can’t imagine doing anything else because I look forward to going to “work.”

Groom runs in the rain to get the rings at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA

What do you find to be the biggest challenge/most difficult part of being a wedding photographer?

I am my own best friend and own worst enemy. I have extremely high standards and constantly pushing myself to not only do my best, but to make each wedding better than the last. My best photograph should always be my next one. I don’t ever want to fall back on auto-pilot or run through a standard template of shots. I try to prepare for each wedding by having a quiet hour and often just walk around and listen to music, especially when I’m shooting destination weddings or where I am unfamiliar with the location. Clients hire you because they want to see their wedding through your eyes. They trust that you are going to deliver images that will make them laugh and cry and make the highlight reel.

Bride and groom enjoy a moment at The Ruins in Seattle, WA

The other thing, of course, is the business end. Most new photographers don’t realize that most of being a professional isn’t taking photographs: it’s business. You have to establish yourself, create a consistent and enticing body of work, you have to get it in front of people who can be potential clients, and you are *constantly* in a state of simultaneously educating yourself about new gear, new software, new computers, new wedding venues, new advertising or networking options while also trying to answer all of the calls, emails and texts you get from clients. Shooting is about 10% of the job, but it’s the part of the job that is the most fun, as well as the part that determines who you are as a photographer and whether or not you create images that will attract clients. Keeping your clients happy and getting referrals is an infinitely better way of getting new work than any other way, and it’s cheaper than advertising.

Bride and groom exit the ceremony just after the kiss at Rosario Resort on Orcas Island, WA

How did you get into wedding photography?

I sort of fell into it accidentally. I had been taking photographs since I was about 10 years old, starting with a camera that my parents gave me. In high school, I was the photographer for my school paper and yearbook. Since then I had been shooting portraits and headshots from models and musicians. In late 1998, I had a couple hire me to shoot portraits of them. They loved the portraits and asked if I’d shoot their wedding. I was terrified, but took the job. Fortunately, my ignorance about weddings ending up being an asset as I just shot it like I felt like and it was mostly B&W candid photos. It was good enough to inspire me to try again on another wedding and then they kept coming! Suddenly I was extremely busy and had more work than I knew what to do with. I did my first travel wedding in 2001, which was in Zihuatanejo, Mexico, shot entirely on film with Leica cameras. That opened the floodgates for more travel weddings, and since then I have photographed weddings all over the US and in China, Indonesia, Thailand, India, Canada, Mexico, etc. I had a chance to shoot a wedding in Pamplona, Spain, but I was already booked on that day!

Bride looks at the rain on the balcony at Sorrento Hotel in Seattle, WA

Why photography? What draws you to it?

I started taking photographs at age 10. I was absolutely fascinated by the process of light coming through glass, hitting the plastic emulsion and an image appearing when that film was dipped in a specific chemical stew. I was the photographer for my school paper and yearbook in high school, where I also got more time printing and developing in the darkroom, a process that was also magic to me. It wasn’t until I saw the photographs of Ralph Gibson when I was about 17 that I really had the epiphany that photography was all I wanted to do. Prior to that, I had been taking aimless, poorly composed photographs of the mundane things around me. Seeing high contrast, tightly composed black and white grainy photographs triggered something in my brain that not only inspired my photography, but also my view of life. Everything I saw from that moment on was the world in a 2:3 frame. I look at every scene as if it were a photograph: How could I improve it or make it better communicate an emotion? Should I get closer? Change my angle? Wait for better light? I immediately starting doing B&W portraits for models and musicians, and taking B&W infrared landscapes with a 24mm lens. I still have some of those photos in a portfolio today.

Couple and wedding party run to the tent after rain cuts their ceremony short at Rosario Resort on Orcas Island, WA

Who has influenced your photography?

Ralph Gibson was the first photographer to really change my world, as noted previously, particularly to the power of black and white, compositionally driven imagery. Around that time, I also discovered Henri Cartier-Bresson, thought of as the father of photojournalism. His compositions were masterful. Cartier-Bresson is often studied in art school or photography classes, but sometimes Gibson is overlooked. Finding his work on my own through a random book selection was a real treat. I was lucky enough to have participated in a one week workshop with Ralph Gibson in 2003 in Vancouver, BC. I learned a lot from him, but as much of that from his stories and anecdotes as from his photography. Since then, I’ve become a fan of many of the great masters, many of whom are members of the Magnum photo agency: Elliott Erwitt, Josef Koudelka, Robert Frank, Sebastiao Salgado, Rene Burri, Anton Corbijn, Martin Munkacsi, Bill Brandt, Andre Kertesz.

Bride, parasol and shadow at wedding at Five Event Center in Minneapolis, MN

What changes/improvements have you observed within your photography over the years?

The first thing that comes to mind is the ability to deliver consistent results in any location and lighting condition, something that comes from experience. I find myself in the full spectrum of light, and I know how to get the results I’m looking for. Another thing I’ve noticed is analogous to the way getting a motorcycle racing license positively affected my driving: No matter what happens in the wedding, I don’t get rattled or emotional if things don’t go exactly as they do on the wedding timeline. Having now been to over 600 weddings, you realize that things don’t always go according to plan, and more often than not, that’s a positive opportunity for more photographs, rather than a cause for distress. Part of my role as a photographer is to be as unobtrusive as possible. That includes making sure that I do everything in my power to make the couple and everyone around me as comfortable and relaxed as possible, and that shows in the results.

Wedding processional at Devi Gahr in Udaipur, India (Rajasthan)

Bride and henna at wedding at Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, WA

I’ve also noticed that I seek out strong backlight and sidelight. Light from this direction tends to be more dramatic AND more flattering, and ultimately, part of my goal in delivering images that make my clients look good and convey the joy of what it was like to be at the wedding! I also am drawn to strong leading lines going into the exact corner of the frame. I’m not sure why this is so satisfying, but people really respond to those images without pointing that out. There must be a psychological anchoring quality about the composition. I just had an image, taken during a trip on the Washington State ferry to Orcas Island for a wedding, that was shown in a gallery at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

Engagement portrait at Post Alley in Seattle, WA during a rare summer rain

Bride getting into limousine in Chicago, IL

Remembering those who could not attend

Do you have a favorite camera or lens? 

My favorite combination is my Fujifilm X-Pro1 with the 56mm f1.2 lens. It works exactly like the Leica film bodies I used to use for weddings and the lens is breathtakingly sharp, while allowing me to shoot in nearly complete darkness. I know exactly what I’m going to get before I even put the camera to my eye, and it never disappoints.

Bride and groom at a winery in Sonoma, CA

Any advice for couples who are looking for their perfect wedding photographer?

The most important thing, of course, is to find wedding images that really resonate with you. A photograph that creates an emotional connection with you is going to leave a much longer impression that technically competent images that are merely documenting the event. Find a photographer who does consistent work in a variety of settings, particularly one that is similar to your wedding venue.

Kiss in front of the Bachelor Farmer in Minneapolis, MN

One thing that is often overlooked is having a connection with your photographer. Weddings are my glimpse into 6 to 9 hours of extremely personal and emotional time with my clients. My goal is to immediately get on their channel and make them comfortable so I can disappear and get the kind of real candid images that clients hire me to create. If you aren’t comfortable with your photographer in a social setting, you probably aren’t going to be comfortable with him/her on the day of your wedding, when the stakes are higher and emotions tend to be more extreme. For the past few years, I’ve been including engagement portraits with my wedding coverage, which allows me to work with each couple prior to their wedding and see how they interact in front of the camera. Some people are reserved and shy, others are extroverts who are extremely demonstrative in front of anyone. I can adjust how I work with them on their wedding day based on this time together, and it also gives me a chance to make some great portraits with them. We will then have a greater sense of familiarity on the day of the wedding.

Groom about to see the bride at Calhoun Beach Club in Minneapolis, MN

My final advice would be to get some kind of feedback from clients they’ve worked with and to see at least one complete wedding so you can see how they cover an entire wedding rather than just a few highlights from it. Consistency is one of the hallmarks of professionalism. I have to get the same results, regardless of the lighting, challenges of the venue or the comfort of the couple in front of the camera. One of the reasons I created a new “Client Raves” section on my website is specifically because my clients often talk about what it was like to work with me in addition to loving the photographs. You usually can't have one without the other. The connection that you create with your photographer definitely is reflected in the results!

Couple on the bluffs at sunset at wedding in Leavenworth, WA

Do you have any advice for beginning photographers, wedding or otherwise?

Seek out the kind of images that really make you happy, rather than imitating what you’ve already seen. I started out doing this and I still do it to this day. This is one of the reasons I try not to look at current trends in wedding photography. I’ve seen so many trends come and go and they don’t wear well. People will always want classic, timeless images that don’t scream being from a specific era, which is why I value my background shooting real film, and also why I make my digital images look exactly like my film images used to.

Bride at Basilica of St. Mary in downtown Minneapolis, MN

The best way to get noticed is to stand out. Look for shots that you DON’T see all the time, rather than imitating what you see in all the magazines. Define your own target rather than shooting at the same one everyone else is trying to hit. The photography market is infinitely more saturated than I was 15 years ago. Anything you can do to define your own style, something Ralph Gibson refers to as a “visual signature,” is helpful because it gives people a reason to notice you and HIRE you. If you are doing the exact same work as everyone else, you are just a commodity and then it comes down to price. There are a million photographers all wanting work. Once you start making clients happy, they tell their friends. Referrals are better than any advertising because people come to you already sold and don’t need to be convinced of your value. Give ALL of your clients 100% and strive to exceed their expectations.

Bride at a wedding at Heyday in Minneapolis, MN

“…In those days, when I was trying to sell my soul, no one wanted to buy it anyway. So I decided what I would do is work in a purely introspective fashion for myself. I could find out who and what I was through my photography.” – Ralph Gibson

Bride and groom in Spillville, IA

Finally, don’t be so obsessed with gear. I am very attached to the Fujifilm equipment I use because it helps me deliver exactly what I’m looking for and I’ve been using it already for 3 years. We are like old friends. It works like my old film cameras did, which makes it even easier. The bottom line is that it’s better to know your tools inside and out rather than keep trying the “latest and greatest” thinking the next camera or lens purchase is going to suddenly be the genie in a bottle you’ve been looking for. Chances are, it’s not. WHAT you photograph is all that matters. In 50 or 100 years, no one is going to care what you used. No one is going to care that it's film or digital or manual focus or autofocus. All that matters is that the photograph grabs the viewer and tells a story or communicates an emotion or stirs something in the viewer. The rest is trivial.

Now, I do definitely have favorite lenses because they see things the way I do, but essentially, I take the same photographs with my iPhone as I do with an old Leica rangefinder or my current Fujifilm digital setup. What I love about my Fujifilm gear is that it’s lightweight, it has physical aperture and shutter controls, delivers stellar quality at ISO6400, and has a color palette and character most like film. Not surprisingly, this is a line of professional cameras and lenses from a company that also makes the best films. I also find that something relatively minor can be major: The Fujifilm cameras allow me to set them up to show high-contrast B&W with the effect of increased contrast from a dark yellow filter. Shooting everything as though I am seeing B&W, even if the image ends up being color, allows me to best see the patterns and compositions in everyday things. Ultimately, this gives me the kind of photographs I’m looking for.

Bride getting ready at The Bachelor Farmer in Minneapolis, MN

I’m a very technical person, sometimes excruciatingly concerned with detail and accuracy. Photography is an art AND a science. You have to know what the tools are capable of to get the best results. With photography, though, chasing “accuracy” and agonizing over technical trivialities is sort of a fool’s game. I’m much more interested in creating images that create strong, positive feelings and help create and reinforce memories. Ultimately, that’s the role of the photographer: to apply his/her own style to the images and give you something timeless you will value forever. It’s about creating work that evokes a feeling in the viewer.

Ring bearer watching the groom at a wedding in Seoul, Korea

Wedding ceremony at The Enchanted Barn in Wisconsin

Best advice you’ve ever received about being an artist?

“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” – Elliott Erwitt

Portrait of the bride at Calhoun Beach Club in Minneapolis, MN

Bride and groom walk down to their reception at Calhoun Beach Club in Minneapolis, MN

Morning from the Shilla Hotel at a wedding in Seoul, Korea

Thank you, Bradley. Your images and words are inspiring and insightful! Love Bradley Hanson's work and creative approach? Make sure to check out his member portfolio.

xoxo, Carrie

Link to Junebug Weddings feature is here

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