From National Geographic to Weddings
My couples all say the same thing – their wedding photography is the most important part of their day. They want their photos to bring back the emotion and love from the day, they want their story told. They want to feel the happiness, share the joy, and relive the moments. They want photos that are truly great.
This begs the question, what makes a truly great photo? It’s a question that plagues photographers and the art industry. Lighting, composition, and technique are just a small part of what makes a great photo. For me, taking a great photo is about evoking an emotional response. In order to do that, I believe that you have to truly care about what you’re shooting. I know it sounds cliché, but when you’re passionate about your subject, it’s easy to create a narrative. When I first started shooting for The Seattle Times more than 10 years ago, I would shoot everything – because that’s what I thought you’re supposed to do when you’re sent to document something. After some time of doing this, I realized that it’s more about feeling and not looking. Feeling things that others might not notice like emotions, a passing kiss, a quick moment in time. These moments show in your work – being consistently thoughtful in your shooting.
Scoring a huge honor like the cover of National Geographic, one might wonder why I choose to shoot weddings rather than go into the field of landscape and travel photography… The answer is really quite simple. As far back as I can remember, I’ve LOVED love, I’m fascinated with the emotion and bond two people can hold. It’s no surprise that after graduation I eagerly stepped out of the Times’ shadow in search of a spotlight in the world of weddings. I’ve shot in some pretty amazing places, on 6 continents and 30 countries. This world is a magnificent place and I’m so honored to have seen and photographed many of them, but the best honor of all is being able to see love. I view my job as an ongoing conversation with love, and no landscape, no matter how beautiful, can beat that.
I love my couples; I love what I do. My goal is to share this love through photography and in turn, make people fall in love with the wedding photos I shoot. Evoking emotion in photography is what takes an image from good to great. In order to feel the emotion of a photo, they need to be able to see the love I have for my work, see the couple’s personalities, so they can connect and relate, maybe even see a bit of themselves in the photos I shoot.
The most important thing for me, when approaching a wedding, is to try to understand what the experience will be for the couple. How they see their big day, and what makes their love special. Understanding the little things between them and their personalities help me capture that every step of the way. It’s why we offer a complimentary engagement shoot – we bond with each couple behind the lens, helping them open up and take natural photos.
I feel fortunate to do what I do every day. I’m so blessed to have a great network in the wedding industry. My team and I approach each wedding as an opportunity to capture art for our couples in a way that no one else can. Other photographers also do a great job; however, our background in landscape photography and being on the cover of National Geographic has taught us to use light in a way no one else does. Understanding landscape photography means a deeper understanding of light, and when you have a better understanding of light, you can take better photos. That’s why you’ve never seen images like this before.
Even though the wedding only lasts a day, your responsibility as a photographer goes so much farther than shooting for one day. You’re telling the most important story of each couple’s lives by capturing their personalities and love on that day. Telling a story not just of the wedding, but of who they are, what draws them together, and what bonds they share. When it comes to telling a love story between two people, the rules bend or even break. Some of my best wedding photos were not technically perfect ones. We must feel something in a photo and have an emotional connection with the couple. Sometimes having the incorrect exposure, focus, or another technical aspect may help you tell that story better, not worse. To me, emotion trumps everything else.
Like my photos in National Geographic and other landscape magazines, I believe that the best photos use light. Light is the best tool a photographer has, and it can turn a sense of ordinary to extraordinary. Similarly, the wedding day is your brightest day, and I believe wedding photos should be bright and vivid to reflect the emotion of the day. I love using light to show the brilliance of each couple and their connection. Landscape photography has taught me that using color helps to draw a viewer in and keep them there – I don’t like the look of dull or washed out photos. Color and light are both important tools in telling the story.
There are many elements to taking a great photo – whether you’re shooting for your couple, a newspaper, or National Geographic. Being a photographer means understanding all the rules of photography and tools at your disposal – both the technical and aesthetic. Tools like the proper lens, lighting, composition, framing, and exposure (to name a few). Being an artist means understanding that all the tools are subjective, and rules are meant to be broken. If you understand this, you can take not just a single photo, but an entire wedding day of photos from good to great.
Are you recently engaged? Please reach out today, we’d be honored to be a part of your wedding. I look forward to hearing from you.
Cara and Tyler
“I hope this does not sound generic but Clane is the single most AWESOME photographer if not in this country, in the Pacific Northwest. I have been to and seen multitudes of wedding photos in my years, and Clane by far exceeded the high standard I expected of him. I can honestly say that the best decision I made regarding my wedding, with the exception of the man I choose to marry of course, was choosing to go w/Clane for our photography needs. Everyone who sees my photos comments on how great the photography turned out, and I always make sure to pass along his info so they can try to slot him in for their big day. I absolutely LOVE Clane, I have only rave reviews about him and his work. He is so creative and shot better photos than I even imagined possible. Go with Clane, I am not kidding, you will not be disappointed!”
Jeanette and Cody
We can honestly say we could not have asked for a better photographer. From day one Clane went above and beyond to make sure we were happy and comfortable with the camera in our face. We have both been photographed before for various reasons and neither of us have ever been comfortable with it. We were blown out of the water by Clane’s ability to break the ice and have a great time while still creating PHENOMENAL photographs. He not only made us happy on our wedding day and the days leading up to it, but he also hit it off with our bridal party, guests and even other vendors. We have received so many complements on his talent and personality since the wedding day its amazing.
Caleb and Christa
I could not be happier that we chose Clane Gessel as our wedding photographer. I was most nervous about the picture taking at the wedding because I hate to be in front of the camera. However, Clane made me and my fiancé feel perfectly comfortable. He had great ideas for unique and creative shots and also made sure that we were getting shots that we really wanted. He really tailored his style to fit our wants. Even during stressful picture taking moments, he stayed calm and collected and got the job done. He was great with our large wedding party and 400 guest wedding.
Sean and Mikey
Clane is truly a professional. He is so easy to work with and his pictures are phenomenal! Photography can either make or break your special day, and I can honestly say that the ease of working with Clane was so greatly appreciated. His photos are one of a kind and will make our day forever in our memories truly the best day of Jacob and my life!!
Tim and Roxanne
Clane Gessel was our photographer for our wedding last October. This man takes awesome pictures! He was really easy to work with. He was able to gather the family for group pictures and take them really quickly (with our family, that’s the equivalent of herding cats). He also gave us a choice of an engagement session or a bridal or TTD session and we chose the latter (which involved him being on a surfboard without any previous surfing experience – talk about love for your work!). He was always very responsive with his communications, even taking the time to scout our wedding location a couple of months prior.
Brittany and Matt
Clane was absolutely wonderful! He was friendly and professional right from the start. He was able to make my husband and I feel comfortable where we could be ourselves in front of the camera. Also, I loved how Clane was open to do almost anything and at the same time he provided creative ideas. Being new to the area it was great to look at his previous weddings to get ideas on poses and locations. Also before the end of the night he made sure we were satisfied with the photos he took. He definitely helped make the night perfect. Along with providing great service, his photos are phenomenal!
Laura and Kyle
Hiring a photographer for our wedding was by far the toughest decision. Mainly because there are so many to choose from, and many seem like they would do a good job. We chose Clane based on a referral and my initial choice was that I appreciated the questions he asked me up front about what was important to me. Even though I really didn’t care about engagement photos, he insisted this part of the package. And, I am SO glad he did. From engagement photos through the ceremony, Clane showed up with great energy, creativity and assertiveness. He gives small hints along the way to ensure the photos will look their best and had creative ideas of where and how to take photos.
Arianna and Matt
From start to finish, Clane was an absolute dream to work with. His vision and ability to capture our day is unlike any other – truly a league of his own. He made us feel relaxed and truly captured the most unbelievable images of our day. We are so grateful to him for his incredible work – we will truly cherish these images for the rest of our lives and couldn’t imagine anyone else capturing these special moments. I assure you he will go above and beyond and deliver images that you couldn’t have even dreamed of. Thank you, Clane and Team. We absolutely adore you.
Veronica and Steve
Clane and his team were superstars! They showed up right on time, and no matter how crazy things were while I was getting ready, they stayed cool and got every important shot. I got married at a huge estate in the Bay Area, and they were running all over the property to capture every moment, splitting up to capture different locations at the same time. They were like ghosts when it came to the ceremony, capturing everything while being quite and not distracting anyone – like true professionals. They were all over the cocktail hour and reception, getting every important shot. They’re also so kind and have such warm personalities – Exactly the kind of energy a girl wants to be around on her wedding day when things are stressful.
Jordan and David
Clane Gessel is a true professional and artist. We are so grateful and feel equally humbled we had the opportunity to work with him for our wedding. I knew going into the wedding planning process I cared a lot about the photography- and in the Bay Area there is certainly no deficit of wedding photographers. Full disclosure- I am a personality type AAA and I researched several photographers (probably over 50), meeting with a dozen in person or on Skype before landing on Clane. Clane made us feel so comfortable, and he was equally excited about our wedding as we were – that truly was hard to find in many of the photographers we had met with. What I really appreciated about Clane was his go-getter and no-nonsense approach on the wedding day. We had a fairly large wedding, with even larger personality in our wedding party and extended family. We wanted to get certain shots and had limited time – he got everyone organized quickly (which was the equivalent to herding cats) and told us something the wedding day that I really liked: “I am not here to please everyone, I am here to please you.”