Discover more from Process by Wesley Verhoeve
119 ☼ Breaking My #1 Rule
GIVEAWAY: $150 gift certificate for the Moment shop
In this week's letter, I take you to Sicily where I broke my number one photography rules and took the most romantic picture I’ve ever taken.
Also in this issue, a continuation of a wonderful Process Giveaway with my friends at Moment who made available a $150 gift certificate to their photo shop.
☀️ Shout out to my friends at Squarespace for helping make this issue possible ☀️
I am honored to be featured in Carmencita Film Lab’s Best of October selection.
Mentor Sessions: I am opening up the last mentor slot of 2023. Read more here. Below is a note from Alex about his mentorship session with me earlier this year:
“Wesley's mentor session helped unlock my project. We built practical steps forward for my book in narrative themes, format, and priorities. But more than that, he helped me with mindset and getting out of my own way to let the project flourish. I would recommend a session with Wesley to anyone who wants an experienced and helpful voice with their project.” — Alex Eaton
Breaking My Own Photography Rule
Today’s issue is about breaking my own rule, a rule I'd stuck to for years – I don't do wedding photography. Earlier this summer I stepped out of my comfort zone and through happenstance ended up breaking this rule, with unexpected joy and results.
There are countless categories in the world of professional photography. From product photography to fine art to commercial marketing photography and many more. Over the course of the past ten years, I have been hired for gigs across the spectrum of photography, but in the end, my best work has always leaned toward capturing interesting people doing fascinating things. It's my passion, whether I'm working on photo documentaries, staff portraits, or editorial projects. I am deeply curious about people and what moves them.
Wedding photography, on the other hand, was a category I'd never imagined venturing into. I had this preconceived notion that it would limit my creativity, tying me down to capturing moments in a specific aesthetic that didn't align with my style. On top of that, the emotional pressure of photographing a couple and their family seemed daunting, and I'd heard some hair-raising horror stories from friends who were wedding photographers. So, my rule was clear: I don't do wedding photography.
But you know what they say – there's an exception to every rule. It all started when a friend told me about a New York City couple getting married in Sicily. They needed a photographer, and although my initial reaction was skepticism, something about it intrigued me. Heather and Kevin, the lovebirds in question, were anything but traditional. They liked my work and they loved the idea of their special day being captured on film and in a non-traditional non-glitzy way.
We set up a Zoom and had a pretty immediate click. Maybe it was our mutual New York City spirit that connected us, or maybe it was the tangible kindness they brought to the call. Before I knew it, I'd gone from "maybe this could be cool" to "I'd absolutely love to do it." To top it off, they chose me out of 300 photographers who expressed interest – talk about a confidence boost!
Fast forward a few months, and I found myself on a plane to Sicily, about to meet Heather and Kevin in person the day before their wedding. They had scheduled a sailing trip and a lunch out on the sea that I was going to join for to document. It wasn't all smooth sailing – first, my flight was delayed, and I missed their boat departure time. Then, we faced challenges with docking the boat so in the end I wasn’t able to join until the sail trip was over. I was so disappointed, because I knew it would have been such a special part of the experience to document for the couple.
This moment presented the first lesson I learned during this assignment, and I’m not even speaking photographically. What struck me most was Heather and Kevin's remarkable composure and flexibility. Being flexible of mind when it comes to changing plans has never been a strength of mine and the way they remained zen despite the hiccups taught me a valuable lesson in embracing changes with joy.
The following day, we explored the area around Casa Lawa where the wedding was to take place. Perched high up on Mount Etna, an active volcano, we were quite literally in the clouds. The mist created an unintentionally dreamy backdrop for their pre-wedding photos, already dressed in their wedding attire.
A bit later, right as the wedding party was about to dine outside the first rain Sicily had seen in many weeks decided to surprise us. Rather than dampening the spirits, there was some quick thinking and everything was moved inside and a joyful meal was enjoyed. Everyone embraced the last-minute change with a smile.
After this first meal, the rain had stopped and we moved back outside for the ceremony. The rain made a sudden reappeaance and it prompted a spontaneous moment where Casa Lawa owner Lukas jumped in with a large parasol to shield Heather and Kevin from the rain.
As I snapped away, I was deeply moved by their vows, which included gifting each other playlists – how cool is that? The various speeches by friends added another layer of emotion. The ceremony led to more delicious food and a dance party, powered by DJs specializing in Italodisco, which is now a top favorite genre of mine for dancing.
This entire experience really left an impact on me, both as a photographer and a human. Heather and Kevin's ability to build a community of friends and the way they practiced love with intention and gentle kindness was inspiring. Their grace in handling last-minute changes on such an important day was a life lesson in itself.
After an experience like this, I found myself not only pleased with the results but also open to the idea of doing more wedding photography, albeit only in special circumstances like these. When the people are as wonderful and unique as Heather and Kevin and they allow this level of creative freedome, I'd gladly do it again.
In the end, I was reminded that there's always room to break my own rules, explore uncharted territory, and be pleasantly surprised by what comes next.
That’s it for this week! If you enjoyed this issue I’d love for you to share it with friends.
Next Week: A recap of the first Process Photo Walk and the first European screening of Wrong Side of the Lens and our Q&A with director Josh.
Keep shooting and take good care of yourselves and others. <3
PS A great way to support Process and enjoy a body of work I’m very proud of, consider buying my photo book NOTICE. Second print out now.
Gear & Tools Used
Camera: Contax G2, Mamiya 645 Pro.
Film Stocks: Kodak Portra 400, Kodak Portra 160, Kodak Tri-X.
Lab: All my analog work is developed and scanned by my friends at Carmencita Film Lab. They’re my favorite lab in the world. Use code “PROCESS” to get a free upgrade.
Portfolio Site: Big shout out to Squarespace for helping make this issue of Process possible. If you need a website, I can’t recommend using Squarespace more. I have been a paying customer for more than 10 years (!!?) and it’s been so easy to build and maintain a beautiful and professional portfolio. I even added a shop to it recently.
Use the code PROCESS10 for 10% off your first order.
My pals over at Moment are back for a generous giveaway! One winner will receive a $150 gift card to buy whatever you wish including film, bags, a course, and more.
To enter this week’s Process Giveaway answer the question below in the comments:
QUESTION: What is something in photography you didn’t think you’d like, but once you tried it was proven wrong about?
My Answer: aside from the obvious answer of wedding photography, I use to think I’d never enjoy shooting portraits with wide lenses. That turned out to be totally wrong!
ENTER THIS WEEK’S GIVEAWAY before 11 a.m. EST on November 19th.
The winner will be randomly drawn. This giveaway is for Process subscribers only.