Wedding Photography – what’s in a style?
The prospect of looking for a wedding photographer, can seem daunting to many couples. With so many photographers to chose from – where do you start?
Different photographers have different styles – some sticking to tradition roots, offering limited coverage on your day and producing a series of arranged portraits, others pursue a more cinematic approach with very stylised portraits. Both require placing an unnatural halt to the flow of the day with taking the Bride and Groom out of the wedding environment, away from their guests to make these pictures.
Looking at my work you may think that there is something different to work you have seen elsewhere?
Documentary Wedding Photography
Often referred to as Documentary wedding photography, reportage wedding photography or wedding photojournalism, the subtle differences do not need elaborating here. More important is to exploit their combined virtues of being natural, observational story telling.
Documenting a wedding through a strong observational approach is the only real way of telling the story of your wedding day, the way you planned it, the way you visualised it and the way it really was. Any other way would simply the photographers interpretation of what they thought your day should be.
Documentary wedding photographers approach a wedding with the intent of capturing the connection, the energy and the passion of the day. Through experience comes intuition, being able to see and anticipate moments as photographic opportunities to create images of timeless beauty.
Natural storytelling is something I have always done as a professional photographer. My years of working on Fleet Street titles honed my skills producing both features, – a process of telling a story through a series of photographs to single, stand alone images. Each image capable of telling the story, providing context and clearly projecting the story behind the moment.
This image speaks volumes about my approach to capturing a wedding. Keeping back and waiting for the defining ‘moment’ to present.
Wedding speeches often deliver rich photographic opportunity. The chance to capture raw emotion, whether it be laughter or tears. Moments of connection between families and their guests, with heartfelt tributes being paid to bride & groom.
This image was captured whilst the bride’s stepfather recalled how much his step daughter meant to him. Having always been looked upon as being his own and how proud he was of her all through her life. The honour he had been given in walking her down the aisle that day.
His raw honesty, being shared so publicly resonated within his own trembling voice, striking a chord with many in the room.
The ‘moment’ of him placing his hand upon the bride’s shoulder, with both the Bride and her mother-in-law simultaneously biting their lips. Documentary wedding Photography is all about this kind of moment, both in the photographic timing / composition and the instance when so much has been ‘given’. Its a very powerful capture and one that I love.
The distinct sections of the wedding day, each have their own virtues. To be enjoyed and experienced, but also to be captured photographically.
Whether it be the bridal preparations, the ceremony, the speeches or evening celebrations. Bolted together the captured images tell ‘the whole story’, of the biggest day of a couples new shared life together.
Poignant and emotive, images can also be viewed for their ‘fine art’ merits. A simple hand study shot such as this, 3 sets of hands, bride’s and bridesmaids, showing symmetry and composition.
Its an unusual shot, but one that delights. Another gem to be found and captured well in natural documentary wedding photography.
Strong documentary wedding photography involves keeping the mind open to opportunities. Anticipating where one can, but also recognising something fresh when it is presented and capturing it in that all important stand alone image.
This ceremony shot, looked at first to be like many another ring exchange shot. But the dynamics changed at the last moment, when their young son decided he wanted to be a little more central to the event.
At first I thought ‘Whats going on?’ – ‘The shot has changed!’ but then I saw the ‘moment’ that changed it completely, and really ‘made’ the shot something different, unique, & special.
The scene being backlit, the penny dropped and the shot screamed out silhouette to me!
Stripping out the mid tone details, you are left with a cleaner image with just enough detail to identify the essential heart of what is going on.
Two torso’s, Bride & Groom, rings being exchanged, and the silhouette of a young boy between them looking up at the rings. The defining moment of them making their vows and marking their legal union!
An unscripted moment, that came and went within seconds. These are the moments that keep us alert, the chance of capturing such things.
I had decided to move to the back of the ceremony room, hoping to get another angle, another opportunity to compose and to tell the wedding ceremony story for this couple.
Unknown to me from this perspective, a member of the family was shedding a few tears and looking for a tissue.
Their need was met when a bridesmaid offered one forward across the aisle and across my line of vision – I took the frame and caught the moment.
The perspective and the instance caught, says so much to a viewer in its strength and poignancy. A unique perspective that encapsulates everything that wedding photography should have – setting, emotion and timing.
Good documentary wedding photography speaks volumes. I love the sound of its voice…