RESIDES: Oakland, California
BEST LESSON LEARNED: “A love of photography is insufficient. You must truly love interacting with people. While your responsibilities include aspects of documentary, fine art, fashion and portrait photography, you must be an adept communicator, crowd wrangler, conflict resolver and cheerleader. Study psychology before photography.”
View slide show:
When Dave Getzschman finished his first gig as second wedding photographer to his friend Ben Chrisman, he had just one thing to say: “You don’t have to pay me if you never make me do this again.”
Getzschman, a news freelancer who was recruited by Chrisman, had shot occasional weddings before. But nothing prepared him for the intensity with which Chrisman, co-owner of a top wedding studio, covered an event.
“When nothing was happening he would just approach people and say, ‘Hey, let me take a cool picture of you,’” says Getzschman. What Getzschman learned from the experience is that “you really can shoot weddings in documentary fashion and you can have fun and challenge yourself. I do more photojournalism for weddings than I ever did for newspapers.”
Today Getzschman technically retains his main newspaper client, though he hasn’t had an assignment from it in months. Instead, his real work is weddings booked through Chrisman Studios, which have him traveling to places like Colombia and Mexico. And though the weddings are a lot of work, Getzschman likes the photographic opportunities they present.
“You are in this environment in which everything looks great and everybody is pretty excited,” he says. He responds by shooting graphic images that take advantage of the super-saturated colors of a destination wedding. But along with his 35mm digital bodies, he also shoots medium-format film, both color and black and white, and occasionally a Holga for different looks. “It seems like everyone is using the same tools these days. The looks blur.” And he prefers to work without lighting, challenging himself to get strong images from the light that is already there.