And she is even designing one for guys too, I am very excited to see what she comes up with. Kelly Moore (based in Ruston, LA) is one of the most talented people I know, I’m so excited that she has taken the initiative to create something that will be very useful, and chic, for photographers. Her new camera bags will be available soon! Check out her blog for more information: http://kellymoorephotography.com/mooreblog
To all of those who visit our photo journal, thank you for taking time to follow our work. This post will be a little different from what we normally write about, just a head’s up.
A few years ago, we created a little website called “Trash the Dress”. It was a fun project that was totally inspired by an article written by Las Vegas photographer, John Michael Cooper (Alt F). After reading John’s article, I was inspired to pitch the idea of “trashing a dress” to one of my brides who was getting married in New York. Shana was a free spirited fun loving bride, and I knew that she would probably jump at the opportunity to do something fun and unique for the sake of creating great images of her wedding day.
After Shana and Rich were married, we followed her and her husband around New York producing fun memorable images. While her husband checked into the Ritz Carlton, we took Shana to a nearby fountain where she danced, played and frolicked in the water- soaking her dress completely. Her husband came out to find her dripping wet. We shared a laugh, then we followed them into the classy elegant hotel as he carried her into the elevator and up to the room (leaving a trail of water the whole way). He handed her a towel, we all laughed hysterically- then we left them alone to enjoy their honeymoon. That was the beginning of TrashTheDress.com (which you can still see here: http://trashthedress.wordpress.com/2006/09/26/shana-new-york-city/ )
I registered the domain (www.trashthedress.com) to feature Shana’s slideshow on, so she could show her friends and family. Over the next few months, the trend started gaining momentum as many of my photographer friends were showing off their TTD session on the forums that we were a part of. The sessions were fun and romantic as brides flaunted freely in front of the camera before stuffing their dress in a box. We thought it would be fun to use our site as a platform to show brides what kind of images could be created when the reservations of getting the dress dirty were removed. It was really just a fun project to show off our work, and to have a place to send potential clients in order to show them what a TTD session could be all about (fun, romantic, creative, sexy). None of us knew how big this fun little project would become.
The New York Times contacted me in May of 2007 (one year after shooting Shana and Rich’s TTD session). They wanted to run an article on the “movement”. The Movement? Now, it was being portrayed as more than just a fun photo session, it was becoming a rebellion against tradition in the eyes of the media. This was my first interview, and as anyone would be, I was very excited about the opportunity to be featured in the New York Times. I had only been shooting weddings for 2 years. I had obtained very little attention as a photographer at that point, so being featured in the New York Times could be the opportunity of a lifetime, right? Well- it definitely was. I was quick to give credit to the one who inspired me to create the site, John Michael Cooper. Their feature was fairly positive. They featured quotes by John, as well as myself. They featured images contributed by several friends of mine. They even featured one of my images taken at a “Trash Bash” group photo shoot that we had recently coordinated in New Orleans. My image- simply a bride cutting the tulle out of her wet dress so that she could walk back to her car in the French Quarter. They had seen the image on my site, and thought the idea of a bride with scissors cutting her dress would be a great addition. This was not my top pick to be featured, but hey- it’s the New York Times! Any publicity is good publicity, right? I would rather have seen them use one of the images of the bride having fun in the swimming pool, but I was still excited about getting featured.
The media molded concept of TTD was starting to take shape. The word “movement”. A bride with scissors. Instead of being portrayed as the fun filled fashion shoot that we know as a TTD session, TTD was becoming an act of rebellion towards traditional photography in the eyes of the media. The media frenzy had begun. Entertainment Tonight and Good Morning America were quick to jump on the story. Within 2 days, I had scheduled 3 TTD sessions with former clients and acquaintances so that the media could come to Alexandria, LA to get their stories. They told me they wanted something “fun” but “shocking”. I was hesitant, but eager to have a chance to be featured in more media outlets. We contacted three brides to schedule a few shoots. As I always do, I tried to incorporate the personalities of these brides into the sessions
Britanny’s family owned a nursery, so we set up a shoot with her frolicking around the grounds of the nursery.
Jennifer’s grandparents lived near a green murky bayou. We knew the contrast of the white dress against the green swampy waters could create some very interesting art.
Toby had access to a candy apple red Mini, so we set up a fun shoot with her and the car at a local car wash.
I took time off from my day job at the time (at a local bank) to set up and carry out the photo shoots and perform interviews.
Entertainment Tonight featured our nursery bride. They portrayed it as pure shock value, a bride rolling around in the mud to “destroy” her wedding dress. During the interview process, Heather told the reporter that I had joked about all the sessions that week. I told her that living in Louisiana- most guys have deer heads and fish mounted on their walls as trophies, so maybe I should start hanging wedding dresses on my wall to fit in. Of course, at the end of their segment, the ET reporter stated that “Mark Eric keeps a collection of wedding dresses mounted on his wall for trophies”. Yeah- wha?!?
Good Morning America followed up that Saturday Morning with a piece featuring the bride in the swamp water, and the bride in the car wash. Of course, the reporter at the end of the segment repeatedly talked about how she would never destroy her wedding dress. Through all the media attention, the goal of TTD had been muddied. It was portrayed as an act of rebellion. We quickly created the tagline “It’s about creation, not destruction” to help counter any negativity that the photographers and brides involved may encounter.
From that point on, Trash the Dress was featured in just about every newspaper and magazine that you can think of. The Sydney Morning Herald, The London Times, the list went on and on. We became the subject of a great debate about what women should do with their wedding dresses after they were married. Somehow, two sides formed. Those who thought that brides had the right to do whatever they wanted with their dress. And those that thought that brides should give their dress to charity (like Brides Against Breast Cancer). Our concept of a fun photoshoot was creating controversy beyond our wildest imagination. Trying to sooth any tensions before they became more inflated, I contacted Brides Against Breast Cancer to see if we could make lemon-aid out of lemons. We decided to write an article about them, and put up a link to help more people become informed about their great organization.
The artist in me (and most of us) wanted to get away from TTD at this point. We were ready to move on, create something fresh, and keep pushing ourselves as artist. The businessman in me knew that because of the press, we had been given a platform that most people and businesses have never obtained. I wanted to use that platform to create something that would outlast the trend and help promote good reputable wedding photographers for a long time to come, so we created Modern Photographers. Trash the Dress was moved to www.FreeToFlaunt.com, a term that much more adequately describes what the images are all about.
I find it ironic that the “Today” show is the last media outlet to run a story on TTD, 2 years after most other features. They contacted me last week. The reported told me that she wanted to find a different angle on the “movement”. I told her that if she really wanted a different angle, focus on the beauty of it! Focus on the ART! Focus on the Creation, NOT the Destruction. She seemed to agree, but when she asked if I had any “shocking” images, I knew that the story would likely go down the same path as many of the other stories. I’m thankful that they allowed me to collect images from members of Modern Photographers to feature on the Today Show website (as they chose some great images to feature). The story ended up being fairly positive.
I didn’t submit any of my personal images this time. I’m just ready to move on as an artist. I don’t want to be defined by TTD. It was a fun project and it opened so many doors which I’m thankful for. It allowed me to be published worldwide in several publications. It allowed me to be featured on news shows around the world. I’ve met many friends because of it, and despite it. I’ve created art that I’m proud of because of it, and despite it. Heather and I have been able to pursue our dream as fulltime photographers because of it, and despite it. As you can tell- I sort of have a love/hate relationship with it.
I’m really writing this post to give a little insight to other photographers who may be affected by the latest media attention. No doubt, it will spawn more stories which will involve more photographers on a global and regional level. Some photographers will get caught up in the hype, much like I did. My advice, think about your words and the work you produce carefully. Ask how the images will be used. What will future clients think? What will your peers think? Can you be proud of it regardless of how it is perceived? Protect yourself and keep your best interests at heart, don’t trust the media to share your story in a positive light. I’m sure I’m not alone in giving you that warning, but I can only speak for myself.
As for me, I’m only trying to impress my clients now. The greatest feeling in the world is when someone tells me that their image belongs in a magazine. That’s what I strive for- producing magazine quality images based on the personality of my clients, and who knows- maybe one day we’ll get published again without the media driven shock value. I’m a photographer because I love to create and capture. We created a website that became a “movement”. We captured images that became a “rebellion”. I’ve learned that in art is subjective. It inspires. It breeds. It invokes. Images don’t always convey what we create them to convey. People will interpret images in many ways. As I move forward, I can only hope that the art I produce will continue doing those things, for better or worse. There could be no reaction without initial action. May my images continue being visual verbs that evoke a response. May they never become stagnant nouns that are simply gazed upon. I’ll continue being who I’m best at being, simply Mark Eric, and my clients and subjects will continue to inspire me. As Artists we should all continue creating art based on our personal convictions and motivations- after all, isn’t that what Art is all about?
We are currently accepting applications for a Photographer’s Assistant. This is an ideal position for a college student who can work some weekday evenings and weekends. (Interns are welcome)
This job will require:
*Traveling with Mark to weddings throughout the Mid South (mainly Houston, New Orleans, Lafayette and Central Louisiana)
*Carrying and setting up lighting equipment (up to 50 lbs at times)
*Holding lighting equipment (such as a lightstick, reflectors and/or diffusers during shoots)
*Carrying bags for the photographer
*A friendly attitude
We recently purchased the Denny EZ Stand to replace our older lightstick. We needed something light and portable to carry with us in our ThinkTank International while on jobs. Since we shoot in locations where we need to carry equipment a good distance away from our vehicle (such as the French Quarter), portability is a must. Some of our Twitter and Facebook friends asked us to post our opinion, so we added a quick review on our Facebook Fan Page this evening. We thought we would add it to the blog as well, hope it helps
********EDIT Since posting this review, we were disappointed with the way the Denny kept coming apart at weddings when trying to move it from location to location. We tried a Cheetah Stand to replace it, but wanted to wait until we shot a few weddings to give an honest review on it. Now that we’ve had a chance to use both stands, we can honestly say that the Cheetah Stand is a much better built unit. We’ll add a video review of the Cheetah Stand very soon.