Playing chords doesn’t make you a jazz composer. Playing it safe around tight corners doesn’t make you a champion grand prix driver. Playing to your strengths doesn’t make you perform under pressure.
Here’s the thing: you have to improvise. You must invent new ways of seeing.
But first you have to know the rules. Master exposure calculations, understand depth of field, learn how to drag your shutter, perfect your follow focus technique, rock your off-camera flash, make your gear an extension of your body, own ambient light.
Then, throw all of it out and invent visual riffs. Careen around tight corners so you feel frightened. Play to your weaknesses. Play, above all, play! The more you play, the more you learn. The more you learn, the more you are empowered to break “THE” rules.
If this sounds simple it’s because it is. Don’t over think the photographs that speak to your heart. Feel them first; then you will never miss them again.
This image was created during one of my earliest wedding gigs. I was nervous as hell. In fact, I was shaking. The room was washed in mysterious candlelight and the bride was an unearthly apparition in her couture Badgley Mischka gown. She didn’t dance; she floated. The room wasn’t lit; it was illuminated.
So, I knew I had to break the rules. I couldn’t play it safe. Rather than aim for exact focus or proper exposure, I purposefully played. My shutter speed was dialed down, I embraced underexposure. The resulting image is lyrical and fully captures the experience of being present at this wedding. It was magical and the only way to reveal magic is to break conventional rules.
Written by Rachel LaCour Niesen
After graduating from the University of Missouri, where she studied Photojournalism and Art History, Rachel pursued projects focusing on rural communities in Latin America and the Southeastern United States, amassing accolades as a passionate documentary photographer with a keen eye for the human condition. Her work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times Magazine and the San Francisco Chronicle. In 2002, Rachel’s captivating photographs of migrant farmworkers were chosen for a book entitled The Human Cost of Food; Farmworker’s Lives, Labor and Advocacy, published by the University of Texas Press.
Rachel’s love for storytelling photography took an intimate turn when she stumbled upon wedding photography by trading her photographic skills in exchange for a custom-designed wedding gown. Quickly trading her front row seat to world history for a front row seat to family history, Rachel started a wedding photography company, LaCour, with husband Andrew Niesen and friend Mark Adams. In a few short years, LaCour became one of the premiere wedding photography studios in the U.S. and soon families the world over caught on to LaCour’s signature style of authentic storytelling through photographs. In 2008, American Photo magazine recognized LaCour’s contributions to the industry by naming them among the “Top Ten Wedding Photographers in the World.”
In 2007 Rachel co-founded ShootQ and now manages the commingled communities of Pictage and ShootQ.