Brett Florens - Weddings in Fashion - Full Story
According to Brett Florens, a good wedding photographer combines photojournalism, portraits, fashion and food, all into a single shoot. He needs his gear to be as flexible and multi-faceted as he is if he's going to get the shots his clients are counting on.
Internationally acclaimed photographer Brett Florens has gone from documenting the worst day in a person's life to photographing their best. The fact that he's a photographer at all is something of a surprise. The result of political upheaval in his native South Africa, Florens' career in photography came quite unexpectedly.
Fulfilling his national service obligation, Florens was given a camera, six weeks of training and charged with documenting violent and politically motivated crimesmany of them murders. While the subject matter was appalling, he found he had a gift for creating images. Then, some of his fellow officers asked him to photograph their weddings. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Florens loved the creativity he found in wedding photography but wasn't inspired by what he saw other wedding photographers doing. What appealed to him was the style and use of light he found in fashion photography. So he studied Vogue, Vanity Fair and Harper's Bazaar. He followed fashion trends from the runways in Paris and Milan. And he applied it to his work, creating a unique style, and images that could easily appear in the pages of the magazines he read.
Admittedly, his style isn't for everyone. But it appeals to the kind of clients he's looking for: upscale, fashion-conscious and willing go beyond the traditional. The Brett Florens style of wedding photography requires confidence, not only from the photographer, but from his clients as well. And the grooms are as enthusiastic as the brides. Not surprising according to Florens.
“These are new age men, the ones who cleanse, tone and moisturize. They're the ones who wear Prada and Armani and invest in a tailored suit for their big day instead of a rental.”
Florens' style has attracted more than just perspective brides. When the leading lingerie company in South Africa approached him to become their official photographer, it was because of his experience as a wedding photographer.
“With weddings, you can't miss the shot because there's no second chance,” he says. “And that's what they wantedsomeone who wouldn't miss the shot.”
Other commercial work has come from his weddings. His clients include CEOs and business leaders, opening opportunities he never would have found otherwise.
“They've seen me work and gotten a taste of who I am and what I stand for,” he says, “which I would never get in an interview situation.”
But don't think he's all business. This is a man of integrity who believes in karma. This is a man who, the night before leaving on a family vacation, received a call from a distraught bride who'd had a falling out with her photographerand was getting married the next day. Could he please shoot her wedding? He could, and he did, and one of the images won him global recognition. Talk about good karma...
“The Vertex 200 AW is perfectly sized to carry all the gear I need for a full day wedding shoot. The laptop compartment is the ideal size for a collapsible reflector and the over-all size of the bag is great for traveling. It fits into the overhead locker perfectly for domestic as well as international flights. I use the flaps on the top of the bag for passports and travel documents. The internal pouch that is located in the middle of the “lid” holds and protects my Epson P7000.
If I know that I am going to be shooting on the beach or sandy conditions I will use the Flipside 400 AW purely to save the back of my shirt! The fact that I can put it down "face first" onto the sand and still have easy access to my kit means that I don't get a dirty or dusty back. It is also great for traveling in less than safe conditions, it is well known that gear does get stolen on trips and the flipside does reduce that risk.”
“Once you get your money shots, the part you have to play it safe with, then you're liberated to start playingwith light, with poses, with structure.”
Internationally acclaimed South African photographer Brett Florens launched his career while fulfilling national service obligations. With no previous photographic experience, he learned to document the politically motivated crimes and violence that are an important slice of South Africa's history. His work has been published around the globe.
Since then, he has moved from photojournalism to a highly successful career in wedding, commercial, and fashion photography. With longstanding clients like Wonderbra®, Playtex®, Quiksilver® and Roxy®; Florens has accumulated numerous accolades including the distinction as a Nikon® Wedding Photographer, one of 12 photographers chosen as the best in their field at the Photokina Exhibition in Germany.
Florens has worked with some of South Africa's most famous personalities, including Bishop Desmond Tutu, FW de Klerk, Trevor Manuel, and Lance Klusener, photographing them for a coffee table book Perfect Weekend. His next publication is a wedding manual, The Brett Florens Guide to Photographing Weddings, published and internationally distributed by Amherst Media USA.