Brides in Trees; Cliff Mautner’s Location-Driven Wedding Photography
If you want to be carefully posed next to the beautiful fountain in the picture-pretty
park, Cliff Mautner isn't the photographer you hire to shoot your wedding.
But if your taste runs to the park in the dark...well, now you're
"Give me anything but another picturesque park," Cliff says, and he's not kidding. "I tell that to clients at the original consult. I'm not that guy."
Cliff's been shooting weddings for about 10 years. "I was a newspaper photographer before that--15 years with The Philadelphia Inquirer--so my wedding style was photojournalism and my approach was hands off. I felt that the wedding day was made of natural moments, and it was imperative to capture the best of them without interfering." His hands-off method was also a way to deal with the fact that he wasn't comfortable with posed portraits. He got a lot more comfortable when he realized that the best portrait moments happened when the bride and groom were allowed to be themselves. At about the same time, his aversion to parks and other clichéd locations peaked. "I worked a lot at the Rittenhouse Hotel in Philadelphia, and shot a lot of photographs in the nearby city park, Rittenhouse Square. It's a beautiful place, but I got really tired of working weddings in that square. It was the same stuff over and over. I needed to break out."
He ended up driving out. These days, no matter where the ceremony takes place,
Cliff turns part of the wedding day into a road trip. "We get into my
car and we look for light and locations." Certainly not the prettiest
locations, and not necessarily what most people would consider the best light.
Harsh light, contrasty light, low light, mixed light--"embrace it
and use it" is
his motto. And locations? Sometimes it seems that motto is "the weirder the better."
The light first. "I deal with the light no matter how it is--good, bad, or indifferent." Indeed, it's possible that his time with the couple may be during what's considered the worst light of the day, but he's turned that possibility into a challenge and his responsive resourcefulness into a style.
As far as locations, Cliff says, "You've heard of the man with the plan? Well, I'm the man with no plan. We get in the car and drive, and a lot of times I have no idea where I'm going."
Which doesn't make him very popular with the videographers in the car
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