Artist Interview with J. La Plante
Hey Jesse, Can you tell us how you started on your path to becoming one of today’s most popular wedding photographers?
Both of my parents are artists and I spent the majority of my childhood traveling around the country to art fairs. As a result, I was exposed to many different artistic mediums from a very young age and always had an inkling I'd end up doing something creative for a living. I went to college for photojournalism and started out as a newspaper photographer. But when the industry went on the decline, I had to diverge. Moira, my wife, has a background in business, and in 2008 we decided to blend our skills and open our company, J. La Plante, and we're now entering our 14th wedding season together.
With so much experience in the arts, what made you decide on weddings as your focus?
I love that wedding photography combines elements of nearly every other genre of photography. Photojournalism, landscape, fine art, fashion, family, still life, etc. Whatever your photographic interests are, you can shoot a wedding through that lens (pardon the pun).
Absolutely! The best wedding photographers are skilled at many genres and know how to find and create lighting in any situation. Plus, they must have extraordinary social skills. It is important for couples and wedding planners to understand how crucial it is to find an experienced photographer like yourself.
Who and what inspires you?
Ooh, there are so many. Let's go with Salvador Dali, first and foremost. I've always loved his work and his museum in St. Petersburg, Florida is one of my favorite museums in the world. Next, I'll go with Alejandro G. Iñárritu. His films are mind-blowing and his style has informed a lot of what Moira and I do behind the lens.
What advice can you give about working with designers and planners?
When we first started shooting weddings, we worked really hard to please the planners. This meant we spent a lot of time taking eight million details of centerpieces and stationery and flowers and so forth. But what we realized is that we were missing a lot of real and meaningful moments in doing this. Nowadays, we shoot first and foremost for our couples. And when we do shoot details, we shoot them as "found" details, meaning instead of placing the rings on a pine cone, we'll shoot the rings as they're going onto the couple's fingers during the ceremony. In other words, candid details instead of posed details.
In doing this, we've found that we still get a ton of referrals from planners even though the types of photos we shoot aren't necessarily what they like to feature on their websites and social media accounts. But being fun to work with and just generally being a good person is the best way to build meaningful relationships with planners (and all other vendors). And hey, you can always bring a third photographer to shoot details all day long if the planner really, really wants them.
What should brides and grooms look for when shopping for a wedding photographer?
Two things: 1) A photographer whose style you love. Not just like, or really like ... but love. 2) A photographer who you get along with really well on a personal level. You'll be spending your entire wedding day with this person/people, so you want to make sure it's someone you genuinely enjoy being around.
What can couples do to prepare for an engagement or portrait session with you?
The single most important thing you can do to prepare for a photo session with any photographer is to just let go and trust us. Don't worry about what to wear or stress over how you're going to look in front of the camera. When a couple works with us all they have to do is relax and know that we are going to knock the shoot out of the park for them. A carefree couple equals a photogenic couple.
What do you think is your wedding photography "super power"?
This is a tough one. I'd have to say always finding a way to take different photos at every wedding, even if it's a venue we've shot 10 times. Every couple is unique, so we want every collection of photographs to be unique as well. We do our best to not replicate photos that we (or other photographers) have done before.
What’s your advice to wedding photographers starting out?
Don't try to cater to everyone. Define your ideal client and shoot for that person. Curate for that person. Market to that person. That said, when you FIRST start out, your ideal client is likely to be anyone with money. That's perfectly okay! But once you start to find your own voice, you'll want to be more intentional with your efforts.
As Seth Godin says, "Don't try to make a product for everybody, because that is a product for nobody."
Thank you so much for sharing your talent and insights on World’s Best Wedding Photos. It is an honor to have you as a member and a pleasure to promote your photography. To see more work from Jesse and Moira La Plante, visit their website and WBWP profile.