Meet the Creatives: The Story Keeper

René Dille is one of those rare photographers whose style is so unique and amazing that hers easily stands out from the crowd. Her images are light and border on ethereal. It doesn’t matter if she is captuing a wedding or yesterday’s lunch, her style is unmistakable.  That talent  is what makes her images more art then mere photographic records. If you are in Orange County, CA, you can’t find a better  person to capture your day and keep your story. {psst…I bet she travels}

Well you know me, I just had to know more. Read below to see what René can tell you about finding and getting your own unique style for your wedding images.

The Story Keeper
Anaheim Hills, CA

Me: Rene, your style is fresh and light.  I read that you make a conscience effort with this.  How would you describe what sets your images apart?

Well, I think it takes a few things working in harmony to create a “look” that the viewer associates with the artist.  It’s how we look at things.  How we see them.  And what we want to communicate to the viewer.  Unlike writers, we have to use a visual cue to tell you what we are seeing; to make you feel it too.  Unlike a videographer, that visual cue must be a single image.  Because of the limitations of our media, that one image has to be powerful.  I think of it a little like haiku.

Since I shoot primarily weddings, my style is light.  I use a light hand when I shoot images, and when I process them.  Weddings are fun.  They are well-rehearsed, yet spontaneous.  The lightness of the day is infectious.  My goal when I process the images is to convey that lightness.

Me: As you view other portfolios do you find it true that the better photographers have developed a style all there own or are you unique in this?

I think the “better photographers” know who they are.  They have healthy egos.  They have figured out how to tell you what they saw in, not only in the way they capture a moment, but prepare that moment for it to be viewed.  Some use bright colors and saturation.  Some use contrast and shadows.  They all tell you a story.  Their work often tells you as much about them as their subjects.
There has been a lot of talk in the photographic industry about the liquidation of style; of photographers copying off each other’s papers.  But I’m not sure that’s entirely accurate; at least not to other artists.  So much of what we put into our work is uniquely our own, that it’s nearly impossible to truly copy.  The really good photographers out there don’t try to make their images look a certain way.  They can’t help but make them look a certain way.  It’s their signature.

Me:Could you give my readers some tips on how to figure out what style appeals most to them and how to convey that to their photographer?

I would tell your readers the same thing I tell brides every day.  I don’t have to tell you what to look for.  You have eyes.  You know what you like.  It doesn’t matter who took it.  It doesn’t matter how well-known the photographer is.  It doesn’t matter whom they’ve photographed.  All that matters is how you feel when you look at their images.

When you look at a single image of theirs, do you understand what the photographer was feeling?  Do you know how the subject was feeling?  Moreover, if you look at an entire album created by that photographer, what do you feel about the wedding?  Are you looking at pretty pictures?  Or do you feel like you were there?  Can you smell the flowers?  Taste the cake?  Feel the sun?  Hear the music?  If you can answer “yes” to just one of these, the artist has done their job.  If you can answer “yes” to all of these, then this is the photographer for you.

To better understand more about a creative, it helps to know how they got where they are and a bit of their philosophy.

I’ve been photographing weddings in Anaheim Hills with my husband Jay since 1987.  We started out shooting medium format film cameras.  It was a completely different world then.  Because we were unable to see what we were creating while we were creating it, the learning curve was sharp.  You had to know what light would do, and what film wouldn’t.  You had to know what would add and what would subtract light; and more importantly, why to do it.

It was also very expensive to press the shutter release; at least a couple bucks for each click.  Because of that, photographers had to learn to wait.  We couldn’t just shoot.  We had to wait for the moment to completely unfold.  Too quick and you missed it.  Too late and you missed it.  Sometimes I think it was the very best way to learn photography, and more importantly to learn wedding photography.  Because we learned to shoot “blind,” we aren’t encumbered today by the same rituals that newer photographers deal with………….specifically, the need to flip their camera over to see the exposure they just shot.  So often THE shot is the one right after the one you just took.  Look at the back, and you miss the “real” shot.

We went digital about seven years ago.  It was tough to change tracks, but it opened up a whole new world to me.  It opened up endless possibilities to further perfect the story I wanted to tell.  Post processing gave me that freedom.  No longer shackled to the retouching artists at the lab, I could interpret the images I had captured in the way I meant for them to be seen.

And yes, I went through the same missteps I think most of us did during that transition.  We all felt the need to kick up the contrast to unimaginable levels.  The saturation slider in Photoshop was at once my best friend and worst enemy.  We did some pretty odd blurry things to our pictures in the name of art.  By, like most pros who have been around for a long time, I finally settled into my style about five years ago.

Now I think of post-processing and retouching much like I think of makeup……………if you’re good, you almost can’t see it.  I think a heavy hand is your worst enemy.  I still want it to look like you………just better.  I still want the story told, I just want the viewer to see it a little more clearly.

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