Having photographed hundreds of 30-something couples and their weddings, here are 10 of the things I've learned.
1. Their wedding is an intimate celebration of love. It's not about making a big show. There's no guest invited because of office politics or because they're trying to impress someone. Every person in attendance has a personal, meaningful connection with the bride or groom. She wants a photographer who fits in with that vision that this is a celebration, not a circus.
2. Her wedding isn't a frat booze party. She's not in college anymore. Her wedding isn't going to be about how drunk she and her friends can get on the dance floor and having pictures of that. Instead, she wants photos depicting genuine moments with her loved ones and dear friends. That's what her wedding day is about.
3. The photographer better be at the same emotional maturity as the bride. She doesn't want to be treated like she's still 20-years-old by a photographer trying to get her to do juvenile antics for the camera like jumping in the air or making fart jokes to get her to smile.
4. She prefers to be immersed in her wedding, not pulled away to pose for staged photos. To her, photos of her celebrating and having fun with her guests trump cookie-cutter shots of being dipped backwards in a kiss.
5. She wants a knowledgeable and skilled photographer. Her tastes have become more refined. She's seen wedding photos that look like her cousin could've taken -- snapshots of people milling around, nothing too exciting -- and she wants better than that rudimentary level of photographer.
6. The photographer needn't take a thousand shots concentrating on just her all night long. She wants to see virtually all her guests represented in her photos. Those are the memories she wants. Even though they say the wedding's all about the bride, this bride wants to see her guests having the time of their lives too.
Besides which, she feels the best photos of her are always when she doesn't even know the camera is there.
7. She wants to feel a connection with the photographer. She has to feel the photographer understands what's important to her. It's not a simple matter of her "handing over the keys" to her memories and blindly trusting a photographer just because they're a photographer. I find communication is key in connecting with the bride.
8. She doesn't want photos that look the same from one wedding to another. She actually wants unique images from her wedding, which stumps a lot of photographers because they can't fathom how a wedding can be that different from any other wedding that their photos would look any different. But in my work I've discovered this has more to do with how the wedding's different more than it has to do with what is different about the wedding.
9. She wants to know who her photographer is. Maybe if she were younger, not sure of what she wanted, she'd be okay with the studio sales person picking out a freelance photographer for her, handing off a responsibility like that to the sales staff. But the 30-something bride wants to personally know who the people on her team are. And she wants the best people, which is why she hand picks them.
10. She doesn't follow wedding photo trends. A few years ago, the trend was to take a photo sitting on a couch in a meadow. Last year it was to take a photo pretending to run from dinosaurs. Whatever. The 30-something bride doesn't want to waste time on her wedding day doing novelty photos which will look dated soon enough.
More important to her: getting meaningful and timeless photos.
Is this all I've discovered?
No, but it's certainly the top ten. There's more. Generally speaking, a 30 something person's world is entirely different than it was for them at 20. They've evolved, grown as a person with life experiences, have emotionally matured and now have a stronger handle on who they are, what they like, what they don't like, and what they want. And that's reflected in every aspect of their wedding.
So working on their weddings is like having knowledge in a specialized field. My other 30-something couples whose weddings I've photographed can attest to that!