A photographer’s personal journey to document love, passion, beauty and joy in a variety of ways in the most beautiful and romantic cities on earth during the European summer of 2015
What is “A European Love Story”?
In short it is one photographer’s journey looking for love in some of the most romantic cities on earth. It entails capturing couples using a variety of different photographic techniques and utilising skills and knowledge learnt from the great artists of the world by visiting the most famous art museums in the world.
As an artist I need inspiration so I am asking that during the period of 05 July – 02 Sep 15 you too join in the journey and post your photos of love to Instagram with the hashtag:
I am not your typical photographer. I have spent 15 years of my life as an Army Nurse. I loved science growing up and couldn’t think of anything more boring than visiting an art museum. As an Army Nurse I have been privileged to comfort patients at the worst time of their life and have seen enough tragedy to fill ten lifetimes.
So after 15 years I needed a little more light and joy in my life. So I began the long transition into becoming a full time wedding photographer. I wanted to be able to spend the most joyous time of a persons life with them, not the most challenging and tragic.
So with the skills and training of a military officer I set about teaching myself the technical knowledge and skills that are required from that of a wedding photographer. I attended workshops and seminars, scoured the internet and enrolled in over 20 online photography courses, and took a night course to learn the more challenging aspect of studio lighting.
I assisted a friend to shoot a wedding. I didn’t sleep the night before I was so nervous. I hadn’t been that nervous since flying around in Afghanistan picking up seriously injured soldiers on the battlefield. Not only was the adrenaline rush intense but a second unexpected emotion appeared…love. I was witnessing one of the most joyous occasions in a person’s life and I loved it.
From that moment on, I was hooked. I spent every spare moment becoming technically better as a photographer, something that came naturally to me as a left brain dominant person. The military, science, medicine; they were all left brain dominant pursuits. I excelled at learning the technical aspects of my craft.
I started my business and started to shoot weddings. My clients were happy as I was producing technically good photographs and as a nurse I was lucky enough to be able to interact people easily. Sounds like I had it all figured out, right? Wrong!
One problem remained. Deep down I felt like a fraud because I couldn’t say I was an artist. I was a photographer but not an artist. In all my learning of the technical part of my new pursuit I had neglected and large portion of what it meant to be a photographer. Earlier on it hadn’t occurred to me was that photography was an artistic pursuit. Artistic to me was an airy-fairy term, one that my left brain dominant personality had no desire to understand or master.
The Right Brain Problem
The term art and artistic was as foreign to me as any other language than English. I didn’t understand, nor appreciate most of the “art” I had encountered.
I decided that if I was going to be a great wedding photographer I would have to at least attempt to exercise my right brain. I knew that I had to learn more about the great artists, people who understood light in a way that I did not. The solution, a trip to Europe to study the great artists, to learn more about the expression of love, and new ways of capturing it with my camera. And this is where the inspiration for “A European Love Story” began.
I also found inspiration in the Facebook sensation entitled “Humans of New York”. One photographer’s work had changed many lives through his daily posts and stories of the people he captured.
A left brain solution for a right brain problem
So I decided to attack the issue using all my military training. I analysed the problem. Not only did I consider my lack of an appreciation for the arts, I decided that I would approach this as an opportunity to identify and rectify any shortcomings as a wedding photographer. As a good military officer this was something I knew how to do well, identify issues, provide a number of potential solutions and execute the plan of attack. Below is my analysis.
Develop an appreciation of the arts
Visit the great art museums in London, Paris, and Rome
Visit museums that house the greatest street photography artistic works
Focus on the impressionists and explore how to incorporate their use of colour and light into my photographic work
Study how the greatest artists used light and their ability to capture the human form through paintings and sculptures to gain a greater understanding of light
Discover a number of alternative artistic and stylistic photographic forms and techniques
Attempt a number of different styled shoots eg. Trash the dress
Shoot subjects from different perspectives and with focal lengths that I do not commonly use
Explore non conventional point of views
Create a collage of artistically and stylistically different photos. Utilise them as inspiration to recreate a different style to my current style.
Utilise lenses that I currently do not utilise very often to challenge me artistically to find an unusual photograph, eg. Fisheye, lens baby, wide angle used closer in on subjects, 50mm lens
Experiment with a variety of different post processing techniques
Integrate the new learnt artistic styles from the trip and develop them into my own artistic vision for the development of my own unique wedding and general photographic style
Find inspiration in everyday life events
Continue to develop technically as a photographer
Further develop an advanced understanding of off camera flash
Master the Brenizer method
Utilise the Leica Noctilux f0.95 50mm to perfect manual focus technique
Attend 2 wedding photography workshops with Master photographer Scott Robert Lim
Learn the art of documentary travel photography
Learn how to use video, stills and my blog to document my progression as an artist
Spend more time people watching rather than racing around a city attempting to see every sight
Document more everyday life and objects from each city
Learn how to use less equipment to achieve a good photographic result
Take 10 iPhone photos a day. Pick 1 photo and add 3-4 photos from my mirrorless or DSLR and post on Facebook. Canvas Facebook followers to determine if they can pick the photo taken that was taken on the iPhone.
Use GoPro to get some video footage and compare with that taken on the Sony a7S
Document love, passion, beauty and joy in a variety of ways
Document everyday elements of life to demonstrate one of these characteristics
So my left brain went to work, sketching out a two month journey focusing on Paris and Italy. I scoured the internet looking for photographic techniques and styles vastly different from my own. Below is a collection of stock images that demonstrate a variety of techniques and styles of photography that I don’t currently use in my photography. I intend to use these as inspiration, and to attempt to utilise these different styles and then incorporate those aspects that best resonate with me into my own work. Feel free to compare these with my current work from my weddings or engagement shoot sections on the website. You should notice a significant difference in my current style of work and the examples shown below.
After my analysis it became clear that my passion was for the last goal would guide that overall project. So this is where a European Love Story begins. As a professional I will achieve all of the above goals through my artistic project that I have entitled “European Love Story”.
A European Love Story Begins
My aim is to capture stories of love on camera across the following European cities on the dates listed:
London: 6 – 11th July
Paris: 12 – 27th July
Padova: 29th July, 1st August, and 8-9th August
Verona: 30 – 31st July
Venice: 2nd – 7th August
Monterosso (Cinque Terra): 10 – 13th August
Florence: 14 – 17th August
Positano: 18 – 22nd August
Rome: 26th August – 2nd September
How you can be involved
1. I need your help
Couples needed to photograph as per the above travel itinerary. This is FREE. In return for your time you will receive a set of edited high resolution images. I will require all those involved to sign a model release so I can use the photographs.
Why is it free?
As a professional photographer my clients hire me to create a certain look in my photographs. In order to experiment with new techniques and artistic styles, the results can be unpredictable. Ethically I am not prepared to risk providing a paying client with anything less than what they were expecting.
Above you will see an itinerary of the locations and dates that I will be traveling through Europe. I am looking to do any of the following:
- Glamour couple photography (you dressed in formal wear with hair and makeup done)
- Pre or post wedding shoot (you in your wedding gown)
- Trash the dress shoot
- Fun silly couples shoot
- Engagement Shoots
- Marriage Proposals
- Romantic couple shoots
- Formal wear Shots
I am happy to shoot from sunrise to well into the night to explore a variety of different photographic ideas.
I would love to have my photo taken with my partner! What do I need to do to be involved?
Just email me directly at samantha.ohls[email protected] and we can set up a shoot time and date.
2. But the story doesn’t end there – you can join in on the experience
Rather than this being one persons journey, I wish to invite all people to utilise the European summer of 2015 to document their vision of joy, beauty, passion, and love and post their photos onto Instagram with the hashtag #aeuropeanlovestory
As someone that has seen a lifetime of tragedy, I want to use this project as an opportunity to witness a lifetime of joy and love. I also believe that there are many people out there that also need stories of love and hope coming through their social media stream. Feel free to add a story to any image you upload.
3. For all the left brain people out there I need your help
You have seen my goals that I set out (particularly to exercise the right side of my brain) and I am asking for your feedback to keep me accountable. Please ensure that my left brain does not take over.
How to follow my journey
If you want to follow my journey, sign up for the newsletter on the website and you will receive each blog post as it is released, or follow me on any of my social media platforms below: