Nicole Ashley shares her early lessons learned in this installment of our “What I Wish I Knew” series, chronicling the mistakes and revelations creatives made during their first years in business. We hope you find inspiration (and we’re sure you’ll find some commiseration!) in these stories. Nicole shares with us why grooms are more than just props.
I have been shooting weddings full time for six years. During this time my focus had always gravitated towards the bride. Why wouldn’t it? She’s the one in the big beautiful dress, with the hair and makeup, and the details…. and more than likely the one who chose you to be her photographer. The bride is usually more comfortable in front of the lens and is more likely to express how excited she is about your photography. Of course the focus is always on her.
After documenting over a hundred weddings it was time to plan my own. My now husband and I chose to elope in San Francisco and keep things quiet, simple and genuine. It was perfect.
When we received our wedding images I was surprised at how eager I was to see images of my husband- more so than of myself. The photographs of him are truly what I cherish the most. They are the ones framed at my desk. This made me realize that there was a serious lack of creative images I was shooting of just the groom himself. Not just the standard fixing of a cuff link, doing up the tie or images of him looking at her- I shot all that. They deserved more. I made a serious effort to spend more time with the grooms and push myself to take more creative portraits of them. They are the brides person -they need to be more than a prop in an image. If you review your work could you easily sub in any groom with your brides? If so, you need to step it up.
Steal the groom.
I now make it a point to take the groom aside and try to capture at least 5 strong images of him that I can deliver to the couple. These are images aside from his getting ready. I try to showcase his personality, his details and create work she is going to love. Taking him away for a couple minutes will leave the bride with images she will cherish for a lifetime. Sneak him away after family portraits or when the bride is touching up. Make sure you document that nervous laugh, the way he combs his fingers through his hair or how he interacts with his friends and family. Find the time! It matters.
Photograph men outside of weddings.
Aside from weddings I shoot a lot of portrait/boudoir work- mostly of women. I’ve always been comfortable and confident in photographing women but photographing men was a little out of my comfort zone (which explains the safe posing within my wedding work). I found I was able to create stronger images of men after I started shooting couples boudoir. Shooting intimate portraits of couples really made me slow down and focus on connection and on the individuals. It’s easy to feel compelled to repeat wedding couple poses or shoot what you are comfortable with when you have limited time. As well, men are often less comfortable in front of the camera and therefore when they are posed by a photographer it can typically come across as forced or awkward. By shooting portrait work outside of weddings I give myself time and practice to discover new ways to pose people and now I’m able to achieve more natural looking poses.
Seeing the world in still frames, though seemingly odd, is just a part of everyday life for Canadian based photographer Nicole Ashley. Known for her photojournalistic style and unique imagery, she is demanding attention both locally and internationally.
Nicole found her niche in the industry rather quickly, becoming a well renowned wedding, portrait and boudoir photographer in Edmonton, Alberta. In just a short period of time, Nicole’s influence has branched out far beyond the boundaries of her city, bringing her throughout much of Canada, and on to international destinations abroad.
To view more of Nicole's work, visit her here.