Photography by Joelson | Photography by Joelson - A Team Approach

Photography by Joelson - A Team Approach

July 09, 2016

I just read an article about local photographers that recently appeared in the Fargo Forum.  I must admit the headline caught my eye.  I thought, perhaps, it might be a recitation of some unexpected, delightful, and amazing things that could happen during a wedding event that photographers are often privy to.  In a single day, we (photographers) witness more joy, excitement, anxiety, surprise, happiness, melancholy, stress, satisfaction, disappointment, celebration, and other emotions too hard to identify than in any other job I can think of.  Reunions of family members can sometimes cause more than good times.  (We all have those sandpaper people in our lives who always seem to rub folks the wrong way.  Someday, we might just write that book about our adventures, like we have threatened to do for years.)

But that was not what this article was about.  Instead, it described a sense of frustration and even some defeat in attempting to please customers on a day that is emotionally highly charged for all involved.  For sure, as the article pointed out, a photographer’s job is not an easy and glamorous one.  Cell phones, tablets, and even affordable SLR’s are everywhere.   An occasional WOW photo can be achieved even in the hands of someone who is only capable of pushing a button.  But, as a wedding photographer, your job is not to capture just one or two GOOD images.  Rather it is to document the most important event in the lives of two people.   That requires attention to detail, technical expertise, quick thinking, and built-in radar.

And then there are selfies.  Some people are addicted to images captured digitally, whether it is a photo of their own face or the meal they have just been served in their favorite restaurant.  I mean, dinner, really?!? 

But all of that aside, I felt badly for the photographers who had made the valiant attempt to follow their creative passion and came away with so little satisfaction from their efforts or worse, have made the difficult decision to transition out of the profession.  Because photography, I believe, really is a calling.  It can take years, let me repeat that, years, to understand the technical aspects of lighting and composition and photographic gear depending on your comprehension and learning style.  Now, place yourself in a situation where there are 150 to 250 kindergarten kids, all wanting to go outside to play, or who are hungry and/or crying, or they are tired or they just don’t feel well – dress them up in fancy clothes, and tell them to sit still and smile while you set up lighting or find the best camera angle or adjust their clothing or try TO GET ALL OF THEM TO LOOK AT YOU ONE LAST TIME PLEASE, and pray to the heavens that there might be one image where all of them actually have their eyes open and they look somewhat happy!  STRESS personified! 

Of course, that is a gross exaggeration.  But you get the idea.  A photographer’s job is hard work.  But it is highly rewarding.  You must manage your expectations to be an effective photographer.  And you MUST like people!

At Photography by Joelson, we have discovered one way to “share the stress”.  With three photographers, we “team shoot” which means we share the burden of capturing everything that is happening at an event.  That also allows us to be more efficient and it results in a variety of images that can frustrate a sole photographer.  I realize our approach is somewhat unique, but it works for us.  And it seems to work well. 

The description by one of the photographers of a mother who contacted her months after the wedding to complain about the images her daughter received is a nightmare scenario, to be sure.  We can relate to the need for reassurance and praise that the job done was appreciated.  That is what we live for.  That is why we still do what we do.  We are fortunate to honestly say that we have not received any negative feedback from our clients in the 12 years we have been photographing weddings.  We are proud to share some of the wonderful, unsolicited feedback we have received.  Here are a few examples: 

“This is a dream team of photographers!  So down to earth, friendly, and they have some amazing skills!  I had the honor of having them at our wedding, and it was perfect!  They take away your nerves and stress, and you actually enjoy the normally long process of wedding pictures.  Lol!  By the end of your experience with them you feel as if you gained another set of uncles and an aunt!  Between the three of them they are able to capture so many precious moments that normally go unseen.  I'm so grateful that we were able to work with them on such an important day in our lives.  Hands down most professional, fun, and talented group I have ever met!  Thank you so much for making our day as wonderful as it was!

April Zimney”


“Again we can't express how pleased we are with how all of the photos turned out! The poses were perfect and you captured such beauty on our special day. Our guests commented on your wonderful work and how dedicated you were. They also loved how personable you all were. I always recommend you!

Mary and Josh Dahly”


Mike, Sue and Paul,

Just as I expected with watching you throughout the day at my daughters wedding from beginning to end how professional, and every detail you pursued.

The pictures are great so many beautiful photos, that day is so busy for all involved you really do bring the wedding back to a speed that is much more enjoyable.

Thank you, all, for the wonderful work you do.

~ Mike "Esty"

We invite you to browse through another 50 comments on our website (you can view them by clicking on Applause!  at the top of this page).  They provide a glimpse into the relationships we have built with our couples, parents, students, and families and explains this is why we do what we do.

The most troubling kernel of information I gleaned from the article in the Forum was the closing where there was a list of “thou shalts and thou shalt nots” for guests at a wedding.  In our experience, expecting compliance from others, whether through attitude or your words, can lead only to bad things happening.  As in any human interaction, people do not respond well to being told what to do or to being ordered about or being talked down to.  In our experience in shooting over 200 weddings, blending in with friends and family and keeping a cool head and a smile on your face goes much further than shouting orders or carrying a big stick.  Being a professional means working with all of the drawbacks and drama presented to you and still successfully completing your job – without any expectations that it will be or should be any different. 

All three of us would likely agree, ours is the best job in the world with the most variety and least amount of boredom.  That it is the most exhausting, exhilarating, and heart pounding without have to risk our lives in a car hurtling 200 mph around a racetrack or walking a tightrope between two high-rise buildings.  Come to think of it, that is exactly what it feels like!  BRING IT ON!

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