Manifesto, schmanifesto.

I’ve started a follow-up post about my manifesto six times now. Every time I get caught up in the details. Isn’t that ironic? I don’t want to break it down, dissect what I wrote to defend myself. It is what it is. But I’ll say this, it was never meant as a crusade on blogs or details. It makes me sad that some people think that’s what I was going for. People now think I hate mason jars. And details. And wedding blogs. Sweet.

As I write this, I go back and read the manifesto again.

Rachel has replied a couple of times and she sums things up well, there’s no point in me saying the same thing over and over.

Strip it back.

Peel the layers off.

And start again.

Wedding Preview: Jess and Scott at the Flying Caballos Ranch from The Cana Family on Vimeo.

(disclaimer: this is not my wedding, but I think it’s beautiful and highlights my point)

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  1. [Off-topic, kind of…] The fact that you’re posting a wedding film (and by that promote the other fellow photograper’s work, ‘the competition’) it’s a beautiful thing to do. That says a lot about your passion… :) Cheers!

  2. Ooops I don’t mean that couples who read wedding blogs are not real or are not really in love….I meant that the ones that don’t read them do concentrate on the love between them more as they are not so caught up in the details they are being told they have to have. Hope that makes sense. A writer I am not…lol

  3. Just read the Manifesto…a bit late to the party I know but I just wanted you to know and sorry if this has already been said, but out here in the real world most weddings do not have a lot of detail at all. Out of the 140 or so weddings I have photographed I can honestly say only one has had a lot of details and that is because the bride is an antique dealer and does styling for magazines so it is a part of who she is. I understand your frustration but I think by having your weddings featured on blogs and in magazines you are actually attracting “that type” of bride. Real couples that share real love do exist….they just don’t read wedding blogs.

    Love that video by the way. Thanks for sharing! :)

  4. I loved your Manifesto. Why anyone would get upset about it is somewhat strange. You were not attacking anyone personally only stating what you see happening. I think the thing to remember is that the meaning behind the details for each wedding can mean absolutely different things to each couple…or they could mean nothing at all and just be “stuff”. I am sure it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the wedding details with all of the blogs and ideas out there, they are completely visually stimulating to the point were it become like crack…HAVE to see what is on so and so’s blog today!!! I know for my husband and I the details we wanted to include were those that projected our personalities and love. Before being engaged our favorite thing to do on Saturday morning was to go to the local coffee shop, grab a dirty chai and head over to the antique mall. We would spend all day walking around looking for that one treasure we both loved and could see hanging in our home for years to come…or we would buy nothing at all and just make fun of the crap there that we couldn’t imagine anyone buying (the porcelain eagle wearing a top hat cast in resin with a dried flower frame..hey to each their own). When it came time for our wedding we did the same thing. Slowly collecting things that we would incorporate into our wedding and then into our home. Our bakers cabinet we used for desserts at the wedding now sits in our dining room, our random vintage silverware we collected we now use at dinner, the metal letters that spelled out love on our sign in table are now up on the wall in our bedroom, and the reclaimed wood fireplace ceremony backdrop that my husband and father-in-law built is now the focal point in our
    living-room…and seeing all of it takes me back to the day I married my best friend and fills me with joy. Our wedding definitely had details but they were all with a purpose and
    finding/making/planning them together was just plain fun and even brought us closer together. When the wedding day came it was all about love…that’s all we felt all day. We felt love from our families, love from our friends, and love from each other :) Thank you for using our wedding video to highlight your point and for calling it beautiful…we think it is too. I am also a wedding photographer and have admired your work and followed your blog for quite a while..what a surprise to find my wedding video on here :) Thank you.
    ~Jess and Scott

    (@Collins, I wouldn’t say calling Scott my best friend is a cliche…I would call it the simple truth)

  5. Currently planning a wedding- realise it is so easy to get lost- our theme from the start was “Party with our friends and family”. We nearly went down the $$$ path- then on this very blog I spotted a cool wedding- an even cooler wedding venue- Jonas had shot it- it had to be out of our price range- but I emailed them anyway- what did you know it was perfection- not only were they right for us $$ wise but they also spoke our language- Party with friends and family back on track thanks to this blog. I don’t think a wedding is about details but about moments- if you are very lucky they get captured. thanks Jonas!

  6. Well, yes, the details – what few there are – seem genuine, but the cliches are all lined up like ducks. Everything from her “You’re my best friend,” to the way this video was shot is so done before and by the book. And the out of focus to in focus trick they keep leaning on gets so tired about 10 seconds in but they keep doing it over and over and over…. sorry, Jonas this doesn’t quite match your unique skills and I’m not sure why you would show it here?

  7. It’s all been said, but I think Abby summed it up pretty well. Details are always going to be on the bridal blogs, as it’s the bride’s inspiration, however, talk and conversation about it is always a good thing. I whole heartedly agree with you Jonas, and I can’t see how people took it so personally or so vindictively. It made people think, it made people talk, so good work man. It was time to shake it up a little and bring it all back to where it should be. the focus on the love of a couple.

  8. this is phenomenal on every single level.
    you know there will always be those who interpret things differently/have different opinions. it is what makes the world go round. really, no worries…just keep doing what drives you and you feel is genuine. those who wanted to understand what your words meant, got it. those who didn’t…well. perhaps they should read it again.

  9. Love this couple, loved the video, loved your manifesto, love your photos…All you need is love!

  10. Hi Jonas I visit your site nearly every other day… The stories, the people are such inspirations…. I really enjoy your work…this video is what it is all about. I look forward to catching up soon. Ross

  11. I’m glad you wrote it. I certainly knew what you meant and wanted to share it with others. What a gorgeous video, there are such clever people in the industry and you are certainly one of them :-)

  12. amen. amen. amen. and absolutely gorgeous example of a beautiful couple. thank you, jonas, for knowing who you are and looking at the big picture. don’t ever apologize for speaking your thoughts and your mind. the people who are pissed are the ones that will attract those who you don’t want to photograph anyway.

  13. I think it’s time that wedding photographers take a very big step back (at least 3 metres) themselves. Strip it back. Peel off that protective layer of the latest and greatest equipment. Forget about trying to capture the most perfectly composed picture. Forget about trying to be as good as Jonas. Stop thinking about which magazines and blogs you’ll enter your work into before you’ve even shot the wedding. It’s about emotion. It’s about connection – between bride, groom and their loved ones. Not about your blog audience. The image between the hugging trees – the first time I saw that I thought it was, meh… ‘nice’ but MAN that blurry seagull kinda ruined what would otherwise be a perfect composition (totally dipped in tall poppy syndrome). But then I heard the context and fell in love with the image, and understood why the bride cried for hours after seeing it – with emotion. That’s what it’s about…

  14. i think you were saying you love simplicity just as much as the weddings with the details… that the details dont make the wedding, the love and the couple do! i love that you were saying the simple weddings are equally as beautiful because i agree completely! this video was all kinds of lovely… this couple are clearly so in love and they will treasure this video with their gorgeous words, smiles, giggles and their loving embrace in years to come more than they would if it was all about the details. keep being brave jonas… dont be afraid to share your thoughts just because they might be misunderstood! i love that about you!

  15. Too bad people are so close-minded about what you are trying to say. I think I get why you posted this video and used it as the example. It’s a beautiful wedding with the modern/vintage look that people are craving. As such, it has many vintage and retro looking details, but the focus is never on those…it remains on the people. It tells the story of their day, which is what wedding photography is supposed to be about…the story.

  16. I think the reason some people may have taken it the wrong way is because your piece was coming off of another post bashing mason jars and bloggers (in a much more defensive way and not nearly as eloquent as you). To a lot of us smaller blogs, these all combined in the last couple weeks felt like a big blog bashing party. As a smaller blogger, it is upsetting to have blogs generalized that we don’t put emphasis on emotion and the love of the day. There are many of us who do, but because the bigger bloggers might have lost that view, the statement is that all of us are like that. I’m sure if there was a big outcry against photographers, you would be one of the first to defend your craft and let others know that they have other options and there are still people that have a passion and understanding of what weddings are about.

  17. There’s reading and reading. People will always interprete things their own way. to their convenience. I wish people would read and reflect. before they get all upset. I think you were very clear. Details are ok. It’s when it’s all about the details that the real things loose their significance.With details were just supposed to emphasise.Not sufocate. Oh! well, it will come to them.

  18. Eight years ago today, my best friend and I got engaged at a bus station in a small town outside of Frankfurt Germany. Our wedding was a disaster; my grandfather died two weeks before the wedding and week before my fianceé could even meet my family. My wedding photographer got drunk at the reception and the pictures he managed to get before weren’t even in focus. We were all so shell-shocked from losing my grandpa we didn’t have time for the details, something my in-laws never let me live down. But:

    Because of our religion, we got married the day before what we called “the dog and pony show” with the dress and the cake and the stupid photographer. The day of our wedding, we went to lunch at Burger King, I dressed in a pink sundress and we went to dinner afterwards with our immediate families. We got one picture of us that day, our heads together laughing at some joke nobody else heard. I don’t remember what the plates looked like, I don’t remember what anyone was wearing. I don’t care what we ate. All I remember is that my new husband held my hand under the table the whole time.

    I’ve thought about what my “perfect” wedding would have been like. The only thing I would have done differently would have been to have a GOOD photographer on the day of our actual marriage and not even bother with the next day. I wore what I wanted to wear, I ate what I wanted to eat and we didn’t even have to clear the dishes. Simple. And I loved it.

    If someone’s style really is mason jars and fairy lights, then that’s awesome. But your wedding should be a reflection of who YOU are, not what bridal magazines say is cute. All that matters is who is holding your hand that day and where the rest of the road is taking you.

  19. Jonas. I am a recent follower of your work…but I have been moved and touched with so many of your images. Your “manifesto” was an excellent reminder for someone like myself who has been doing this for 11 years. It started a thought process for me that brought me full circle…back to the reason I started making pictures in the first place. I for one thank you.

  20. i find it ironic that people take so much time to get upset, defensive, angry about something that is supposed to be such an incredible moment. Who cares what people want to do at their wedding. If they want 500 mason jars or paper cups or filet mignon or pizza, it really doesn’t matter. It’s about the moment, the commitment, the life promises, “in sickness and health”, your new spouse. I’m pleased that you tried to show “the other side”. It’s refreshing and necessary.

  21. Personally, I think it was perfectly clear that you weren’t saying that you don’t like details, or blogs or mason jars (especially that bit right there in the middle where you said ‘I love me some details’). We live in an insecure world, people who want to find insult will find it, whether you put it there or not.

  22. I think what people are missing is that it had NOTHING to do with a mason jar. The mason jar was an icon, a symbol. The point was to get back to basics and start to pull the love back to the front and center.

    And it’s started a 5 day conversation at SMP that doesn’t seem to be ending any time soon. Conversation is good. Even if people misinterpret.

    SMP will always feature details because details are ideas. But we are definitely using this to talk about how we can bring more layers to each post, more emotion. So yes, talk is good.

  23. What you wrote before couldn’t of been more perfect. It’s a shame some people just didn’t “get it” because it was such an important testament to wedding photography, love, and life. Thank you, again.

  24. Jonas, I have watched that video you posted above and my god, now i’m a blubbering mess at my desk!… it was beautiful – good work finding it :) Clair Estelle x

  25. 30 years from now, the client will hopefully have peeled away, and will know what the essence is of that day. Will they care about the jars? Will they care about the tablecloth? That is to be seen. In the meantime, those photos are only important in proportion to the day. It is up to the photographer to see beyond the materials and colors, and translate through light, the spiritual fabric of the day. We must find the story that remains on point, as the couple steps together along the pathway to their final destination.

  26. It was a pleasure to be the Celebrant for Nick & Claire and the photo’s are wondrous …. absolutely breathtaking.

    Donnelle Lockyer CMC; JP

  27. I really respect you and your honesty Mr JP….opinions spark debate and thats never a bad thing…it gets people thinking!! And just for the record, for me, your intended message came across loud and clear. Thanks for being you! xx

  28. Unfortunately that’s the way of the world – people don’t read things closely and then jump to conclusions all the time! That’s one of the reasons why I was so leery of starting my own blog. I finally did, but I still find myself overthinking every post or every idea for a post. Kudos to you for speaking your mind!

    I often think with weddings, simple is better, so I totally understand what you were saying. That video, wedding, and couple were so beautiful! At the end of the day, it is truly about the love. I think some people just want to feel like a celebrity, and if that’s your thing, fine, but then if you go too far, you’re forgetting about why you’re there in the first place.

    PS – I love your work. You’re an amazing talent!

  29. Yeah, all the weddings should be like this… if I don’t have the opportunity to shoot weddings like this when I’m behind the camera, at least, at my wedding, when I’ll be in front of the camera, I want to live this :)

  30. I have had a loooong engagement, and I have about 100+ bridal magazines. All with little post it flags marking all the details I like/want. I decided a few months back that it was getting silly. I love design, I love fashion, I love a beautiful, fabulous party. But you know what? I love that I am marrying the man of my dreams so much more and I also quite like my sanity. So I have simplified, cut back, and refocused. I do want to put on a pretty nice event for all the wonderful family and friends who are travelling from all over the world to be there, but hey, I think even they will forgive me if there aren’t parasols AND fans to go with the box of Havianas in varying sizes.

    I do have mason jars. I may use them at the wedding, along with other bits and bobs, but I know that you will be more focused on us than those jars, and thats the way it should be. The jars are to hold the flowers. Your photos are to hold our declaration of love, still and beautiful, safe, forever. When I am old and losing my memory, I want to be reminded of how my husband looked at me on our wedding day, not what was fashionable table decoration in 2012. But I still want a fashionable table decoration :)

  31. Sometimes weddings that I see remind me of Christmas; too much stuff, too much expense and the essense/meaning is lost or hidden. I don’t know maybe people need that stuff they are scared to strip it back. Added to that the wedding business is massive ; commercialised and the advertising etc deams that all that stuff is needed and normal. I photograph weddings and I love my couples, sometimes their are details sometimes not. My role as their photographer is about me connecting to them at times having to facilitate them feel emotion and have a authentic experience giving them permission to feel and creating a space for that to happen. Stay true to who you are and how you do your thing and never lose what is true to you. Stay focused Mr Peterson all will be well.

  32. If people think you hate mason jars and details I think they probably didn’t understood a simple thing of what you were writing. Ledsamt för dem. För övrigt, fantastisk video, fantastiskt par. Mvh Karro

  33. Personally, nothing kills my enjoyment on a wedding day more than a 5-page document of things to photograph. Not people or moments, but pretty, paper THINGS. I love a detailed wedding as much as any other photographer, but let me photograph how much you love each other-don’t leave me in the barn, photographing paper things.
    We know what you were saying, you were clearly understood & you have the right to say it. Especially on your own blog. So thank you for sharing & causing a stir.

  34. After 400 or so weddings I never tire of seeing a couple that have such a beautiful connection. I’m pretty immune to wedding tears but this nearly got me. Thanks for posting this Jonas. It does help to add more understanding to your manifesto.

  35. I think it’s a shame if some people had trouble understanding your point and became unneccessarily hurt or angry.

    But, actually, I think it was a really important argument and it needed to be said. And I wish I’d read it before my wedding! I mean, I did know. I did. But having someone like you who makes such beautiful work saying it meant something extra.

    (that couple are adorable)

  36. I write a wedding blog (eek!)…. and I couldn’t agree with you more Jonas. Weddings are about the stories and the memories. From personal experience, it’s hard not to succumb to society’s expectations (real or imagined) and get caught up in the details. It’s up to us that are supporting our friends and families through this massive time in their lives to let them know that it’s ok to do it their way (whatever that may be).

    I’ve been struggling to write the “About Me” section of my blog because I was finding it hard to describe why I write about weddings. Your manifesto has served to put it all into perspective and I couldn’t thank you more x

  37. Prior to our wedding I was so caught up in the details, I was micro-managing every piece of tulle, every flower, every ingredient in the cake. I was a little bit loopy when it came to the preparations for our wedding.
    The week leading up to our wedding my (now) husband and I spent the entire week doing exactly what you said “strip it back, peel the layers off and start again”. We reenacted our first date, we had dinners with our families, we wrote each other love notes, we danced in ridiculous places, we told each other our hopes and our dreams for our lives together and not once did we plan/alter/monitor a single “detail” for our wedding day. In that week leading up to our wedding I have never been more relaxed, more in love and more prepared.
    The day/night before our wedding we spent the night apart, staying at our parents houses with all our siblings and truly embracing our last moments alone with our families. I played monopoly with my brother, watched doctor who with my sister and had a big roast with my parents and siblings and realised that tomorrow my life will be changed forever.
    I truly believe that what makes a wedding beautiful is the details, the decor, the decorations and gees lets be honest the budget. But what makes a marriage beautiful is Love and not just the love between husband and wife (otherwise we should’ve just eloped So much cheaper!) But the love from our families, the love from our friends, the love even from all our vendors that shared in our special day.

  38. That video really DID illustrate your point. Their wedding had stacks of details, but they all really faded into the background because the love between the couple was all that mattered – it was REAL. Details are cool, but love is where it’s at. Which is exactly what I think you meant in the first place!

  39. people took who took it out of context completely missed the point. that saddens me. just keep doing your thing. if you weren’t right, they wouldn’t be so offended.

  40. you don’t need to defend your post, or your stance….there’s a quote, i can’t quite remember it right, or who it is by, but its something like….it’s better to cross the line and suffer the consequences, than stare at the line for the rest of your life… were speaking from the heart, and you were speaking the truth….no matter what you do, there will always be a critic, so best you speak from your heart, and live your truth, because there are a lot of people who love, and share, what you say and do….just because some of us are faceless, doesn’t make our support any less powerful…more power to you jonas….you spoke your truth….and it spoke to a hell of a lot of people….thank you : )

  41. The video is loading slow because of the internet of where I am zzzz… But it has stopped just after how Scott is at a loss for words trying to describe how he’s feeling… *heart thumps*

    Also… it’s ironic that you’re also releasing this after we receive news of Kim Kardashian’s marriage ending… phew…

  42. Here’s some feedback where you positively affected a fellow artist with your words. I posted a link to your Mason Jar Manifesto on my Facebook page and my sister, Whitney, who is just starting out as a Calligrapher, wrote in response:

    “yes. reading this, i felt some sort of relief. like, the pressure to be an uber successful blogger, crafter, calligrapher whom everyone reads about and everyone wants to be best friends with, is not so important. i should just be me and do the best that i can being that.”

    For that alone, I thank you. Because I love my sister, and I want her to be happy, and your words made her happy. (On a side note, she just married in July, and the Cana Family were her videographers. We all cried and laughed and cheered when we watched what they had put together at the end of the night. These captured moments are precious, the “things” are not.)

  43. Let people be. Continue being who you are Jonas. The world needs more people who are not afraid to speak their mind and have the experience to back up their words.

    Can t wait for those details on your workshop :D

  44. I fell madly in love with my the boy who became my husband because of who he is and how he made me feel. When we got married our wedding was small on detail but big on love. I think your manifesto said what of some (maybe a lot?) of us think. There are some people to whom those little intricate details mean the world and to others it does not. I think your photography and what a lot of us strive for is capturing those incredible, intangible moments. Just quietly, as nice as a mason jar may be for me it isn’t those moments.

  45. I heard what you were saying, and I agree, but I’m not gonna lie, I saw that coming. Good thing you don’t give a shit :)

  46. As someone currently planning their wedding, I very much appreciated your manifesto. The wedding blogs showing mostly detail and little of the happy couple have been annoying me for a while. When I look back on my wedding I want to remember how I felt, not how long it took me to glue endless amounts of buttons onto books. Thank you!

  47. I read what you wrote and literally couldn’t stop crying. I am so thankful for what you said, and am so relieved that someone who is making it in this business had the guts and vision to see something wrong and speak up. thank you…

  48. jonas, this was just beautiful! and really, that is kindof an understatement. you are the man! thanks for giving everyone a kindof “wake up call” if you will…wonderful. video tugged at my heart. thanks for sharing!

  49. Wow!! That video is SO gorgeous and touching. I love the focus; what a beautiful couple. Great filming also.

  50. Insecure people will always find ways to criticise and pick at the people who are succeeding and leading in their feild. When I read your menifesto, my heart was warmed because it spoke to me about the real reason people get married. Love. That’s what this is all about. Some people want to express their love in ways that scream DETAILS and some people keep it simple. As long as each couple do it their own way, stamp it with their own love, their own personality.. that’s whats important. That’s the feeling that’s going to translate through the details, through the photos straight to the heart of the viewer. Don’t let the man get ya down Jonas. Speak your truth and tread your own path, it’s the reason you’ve found joy and success in the first place.

  51. Your point came across perfectly to me. I don’t really see how everyone read that much into it. I think it is pretty obvious that you don’t dislike wedding blogs or details.


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