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Perfect Imperfections: Letting go of the misconception of “looking like a model”

One would assume that photographing professional models for high-fashion editorials would be a world apart from capturing everyday people in wedding photography. However, as someone who has lent my lens to both, I would say that the crux of any photoshoot—whether starring an Alexander McQueen–clad model or a bride in Vera Wang—remains the same. It lies in revealing the subject’s inner glow.

There shouldn’t really be a difference between photographing “everyday folks” and professional models. The photographer makes the actual difference thanks to how much of the genuine person they are willing to reveal.

The Glow Within

Today, I feel I have crystallized my photographic philosophy into one purpose: ‘To reveal the internal glow of people and nourish human connection.”

One Purpose, Any Subject

Regardless of experience in front of the camera, each person being photographed arrives as their full self. The photographer’s role is to capture the depth and multidimensionality of that self, not merely the exterior.

For wedding photography, this means balancing the composition and technical elements of a shot with the emotional experience of the bride and groom and their loved ones. The most compelling wedding photos elicit the feeling of the day and the dynamics between people, not just pretty staging and posed shots. So too for models—while fashion photography focuses on clothing and styling, the most powerful results are achieved by tapping into the model’s innate personality and energy. Their inner experiences translate, even if cloaked in an Alexander McQueen gown or trouser suit.

The People, Not the Pose

At the end of the day, photography is about human connection. Whether working with professional models or brides and grooms, the purpose is identical: “to reveal the internal glow of people, and nourish human connection.” When that approach is pursued, the particular circumstances of the shoot fade away, and magic is possible, no matter the subject. The key is having the sensitivity, skill, and willingness to access that inner glow and share it with the audience.

I think there was a time when editorial wedding photographers overstated the “I will make you look like a model” slogan. The paradox is that, in modern fashion photography, models are trying to show themselves as everyday folks.

Indeed, in modern fashion photography, models are more than just changeable mannequins modulated to fit a client’s brief. Models remain their own people, and the magic is found in the depth of their inner world—it may sound a bit of a cliché, yet it remains the greatest truth there is about successful photography of people whether in wedding or in fashion photography.

Some advice

Your photographer will be there to assist you, but it helps to also mentally prepare yourself to let your inner glow shine through. Keep the following advice in mind:

  • Rather than focusing too much on poses, focus on your internal experience, and the connection with your partner. It’s easy to get caught up in constantly thinking “how do I look?”, but human connection is about more than just how a photo is staged.
  • Don’t focus on perfection, but on purpose. Technically flawless photos are less important than photos that achieve the purpose of revealing human connection. We cannot get so caught up in perfection that we lose sight of the ultimate goal of connecting and revealing inner experiences.
  • Some imperfections or rawness can even make a photo more authentic and impactful. Let go of your inhibitions and allow yourself to feel and express your emotions. When you feel happy, smile broadly, when you feel emotional, don’t be afraid to show your tears of joy. Let your personality shine through, and don’t worry about being too perfect or polished!

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travel the globe photographing life’s important events, weddings, and editorial shoots.

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The AKG studio was created out of my fascination for blending modern techniques with the art d'excellence from a bygone era, creating a photography of timeless aesthetic and heritage. 

My photography is intimate and infused with a sense of purpose, stemming from a deep desire to advocate for diversity, empathy and empowerment.

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