Thanks to everyone who weighed in on the sample DVD debate! Comments were highly appreciated and much discussed. I think I'm going to make one blended DVD. If I get referrals for a same-sex couple, I'll have a shorter all-gay version handy just for them. If I get referrals for someone, say, in Lancaster, I'll try to take their socio-political temperature and MAYBE make an all-hetero version, and only if I really like them.
In general, though, I found the discussion of what people look for when they're previewing wedding photographers very interesting and helpful, so thank you. As a result, I moved one of my couples into a place of greater prominence on the DVD.
They were atypical clients in that they were older. Both had been married before, and they each had teenagers who are bright and lovely and starting to look at colleges. They had a very small wedding with a church social hall reception. I say this next part now as a size 16; I'm no pixie myself. Both the bride and groom are, to quote Cindy, "larger than size 12." (Probably twice that). I am very proud to say that the bride- 40 years old, mother of three- looks gorgeous. She does not look like she could sink the Titanic. She looks beautiful and happy, with her husband, daughters, step-daughter and son at her side.
So I decided, you know what? I know how to photograph people of every body type in a flattering way. I know how to photograph people in wheelchairs in a flattering way. It isn't magic or Photoshop (though it's a powerful tool). It's lighting and angles and technical skill and making people feel comfortable. Wedding photography isn't hard, persay, because unlike the unpredictability of my real job, I know exactly when, where and in what order the important things are going to happen. In other ways, it's incredibly difficult to do extremely well.
I think so much of the wedding industry is selling people the "fantasy." So much of the process is searching websites and clipping out photos of cakes, hairstyles and flowers and saying, "Give me this." Don't get me wrong; I like that stuff. I enjoyed making shower invitations that looked just like Amanda and Kelly's gowns, including the bit with the red glitter, more than I care to admit. But I don't want people to hire me because they see other people's events and think, "Wow. That bride is model perfect and and this is just what I've wanted to look like since I was five and ew.... gay people kissing."
I say, fuck that. My couples are gay, straight, traditional, unconventional, interracial. My brides have worn dresses in just about every size the garment industry makes. My couples are happy and in love with each other, which I say with as much certainty as any person who isn't actually in the relationship can. I've shot weddings that took place on a beach, in churches, in country clubs, in a tent at a B&B, in a tropical garden, in a clearing in the woods, in a mountain resort inn, and once in a hotel lobby.
I shot 300 photos this weekend outside in the remnants of Tropical Storm Ernesto wearing galoshes and a poncho with a hole cut in it for my camera. Only the lens was poking out and it was covered in plastic held in place with a ponytail holder. That takes SKILL, my friends. (The photos of the groomsmen running around with the umbrellas are awesome.) I want to work with people who will hire me for my skills. My skills are what is showcased on the DVD, and that's what matters to me most.
Thank you all for sharing your ideas and opinions. Much appreciated. :)