Show Your Worst

100 percent out-of-camera (except for border and logo)

I’ve started a new thing this month — posting my day-of slideshows publically to my Facebook.

As a branding idea, photographers are told this is quite possibly the worst thing you can do. You’re supposed to show only your best work, carefully culled and processed to the best of your ability! The very last thing you should show your public are a bunch of pictures you picked out from the thumbnails and are straight out-of-camera, or with less than five seconds of editing. What are you, nuts?

Maybe. Oversharing IS a common photographer’s problem. I certainly remember seeing work of photographers I admire when I was just learning the basics and thinking “Oh my God, they’re human!” if they ever put forth something mediocre.

Everyone takes mediocre photos, of course. I think I took a photo of my foot yesterday, just because it was still there.

But I hope I’m on to something. Wedding photography is Different. It emphasizes consistency in a way no other demanding field does — Good Always will beat Brilliant Sometimes. It’s one of the few fields where it actually really matters how good the 100th best photo was you took that day. These things dovetail into day-of slideshows.

Of course, there are lots of benefits. Clients LOVE seeing photos the next day. You get out of the gate before someone else posts really bad photos to their Facebook and everyone assumes you took them. Everyone loves photos of themselves.

Better, though, doing a good day-of slideshow is HARD. Doing wedding photography right is already really, really hard, and day-of slideshows add a few more “reallys.” Hard is good. Do things that are hard, and you’ll never be shown up by the random guest with the professional gear.

Just this year, I’ve had wedding guests that were professional cinematographers, trained by Ansel Adams, photography teachers at major institutions, and all sorts of other intimidating things. If wedding photography really does flourish under a unique set of skills (I think it does), and if you’re a specialist, you should be aiming to do things they cannot. But those things will be the Hard Things.

I’ve been spending my entire life making things unnecessarily hard on myself. Now I think I’ve finally found a use for it.

Lynette J - Further proof that you are my photography hero ;) I am going to try this at my next wedding…now I just need to get my “worst” to look as good as your “worst”. Nice post!

Sarah Alston - Brilliant post. I love it, and I keep on loving you!!!!!

Sheila - I have said it a million times,you are inspiring and what I love most of all human.You can’t be perfect all time .Although you are darn close as far as what you share with the rest of us.Thank you for all that you share not only with your photographs but wisdom as well.

sergey - fantastic post. Everything you said applies not only to photography, but to every aspect of any skilled profession. You make wonderful pictures as what seems to be effortless click of a button on a camera and yet its a practiced art. Good to see that you are a human and admit it.

Chris Lin - “just because [the foot] was still there.”

Don’t jinx it! ;-)

Too hard on self - I constantly make it hard for myself too.

The thing is most of the times I fail to comply. IT’S too hard..

Maria - next week I´ll go to the Texas for Nikon 50mm f1.4! (in my DX 75mm) Now, I definitely will try to take my photos more beautiful 100 % out of camera! …..and the Brenizer Method of course :)
, and if not for that there always have NX2, aperture, photoshop :p.


Lyndon - Wow, even your worst looks good. No wonder your photos look so amazing :)
So glad you decided to do that piece for Photojojo. Might not have seen your work otherwise!
Looking forward to seeing more.

Ryan Brenizer - Thanks! I didn’t write it; it was written about me.

William Bay - Good to see you’ve come over to WordPress. Now you’ll have to design it to look like the rest of your site (or build your entire site on it).

Interesting thoughts on the day of slideshows. I think whereas other photographers will be overly critical, clients will love to see something up so soon, and many times better than casual guest snapshots.
I try to get a handful of my favorites up the next day. But can imagine a full slideshow from the ceremony would be very impactful.


*BTW Dennis Leary rocks, and I laughed my ass off at that comment.

David Redding - So glad you have a site I can comment on!

I absolutely love this shot! and it being sooc really shows your stuff.

Gotta ask though…where is that rim light coming from?

Ryan Brenizer - Riverside Church has some serious lighting, and in a VERY rare case, I was shooting from the back of the altar toward the audience.

Emily Porter - Love this mentality and this shot, Mr. Brenizer.

Rochelle - I think that’s a great way of thinking – but do remember that your worst is pretty much the rest of the population’s best! :o)

Daniel Stark - great post!!

Balok Imagenes - Wow!! all your work is fantastic. Congratulations!!

Bethany - Thank you for being one of the pros to admit that you don’t always take extraordinary photos.

I just quit following a blog that was moderately interesting because they posted yet another, “I’m a pro, look at how silly an amateur photographer is with an expensive camera they’ve not yet learned to operate and that I didn’t even show how to properly focus before handing it to them, I never take a bad photo, blah blah BS,” entry. Personally, I think people that put forth this line of thought are elitist liars – there’s no way they could possibly take 100% fantastic photos; or they themselves are simply a higher level of amateur who’s been paid a few times. It’s an attitude designed specifically to limit competition by making people new to high-end photography (such as myself) feel bad about what they’re learning to produce.

In fact, I find the people that truly have the mad skills are usually the humblest ones around, the most willing to share what they know, generally encouraging toward others, and rarely ever have to try hard to elevate themselves – what they produce does it for them.

Looking forward to reading more of your blog :)

Marianne - Never heard of you before right now, and I feel like I will be coming back to this page from here on out. This post is hilarious and wonderful, and I agree with the spirit of everyone that has posted…perhaps one day my best will be in competition with your worst :) Keep it up!

Kat Braman - what a great shot and I love the post! definitely my goal to do this at my next wedding.

jtimages - WOW wonderful,…what else is there to say?? GREAT job!!