I’ve been telling the stories of my couples’ wedding days for many years, by blending in with the guests to observe and record the natural interactions. You might think that a photographer who’s in close proximity with a camera will draw attention to him or herself, however the opposite is true. Being in amongst the action from the start is a sure way to be accepted by the group and capture the emotion and excitement. It’s wonderful to experience these special moments close up and the images give the viewer a real connection with the moment.
Here’s a beautiful candid moment of the mother of the bride framed in the mirror with the Charlotte the bride looking on during her Buxted Park wedding. There was no instruction, it was just about spending time with them during bride’s preps, documenting the moments closely and watching events unfold. Getting into position quickly, framing the mother of the bride in the mirror and framing the bride through the mother’s arm had to be instant and there was just time to shoot a couple of frames before the moment was gone.
It may seem strange, but capturing emotion throughout a wedding day takes a lot of skill, mainly because there are so many things to focus on that the fleeting moments of raw emotion can go unnoticed and unrecorded. Perhaps the couple have just left the ceremony and there’s their excitement and relief to capture before 100 guests descend on the couple. That’s a lot of activity to record and focus on, often in challenging light. Concentrating on those really special moments they’ll adore requires instant decisions to filter out the shots that aren’t as crucial, ones that will probably happen again in the course of the day. Here’s the perfect example. My focus could have been on the guests’ excitement in the background, which would have made a lovely shot with the bride looking on, however imagine if I’d missed this tight hug between the groom and his father. It would be a moment lost because I still had the opportunity to photograph the guests looking on a few moments later, as you’ll see in the second image.
Here’s that second image, taken after the father of the groom hug. Had I focused on the onlookers first I would have missed the hug, whereas they were still onlooking after that moment passed. It’s a series of instant decisions that have to be made throughout the wedding and the results are powerful and varied images that reflect the true story of the wedding day.
For a moment let’s consider seemingly natural interactions that wouldn’t happen without a little intervention. Perhaps there’s a request from the couple or an opportunity that’s just crying out to happen. Taking steps to record a gorgeous moment that you’ve had a hand in is a skill too. It requires a connection with the subjects that allows them to feel relaxed and give you the moment you’ve hoping for. Take the following shot, it was the bride’s favourite shot of the entire wedding, the bride’s 95 year old granny receiving a kiss from the bride and groom and it lit up her face in an instant. The request was for a group shot with granny, but a change of perspective and the suggestion of a peck on each cheek resulted in an absolutely beautiful moment for the whole family to treasure and also earned me a coveted NineDots award too! Everyone’s a winner!
Shooting through the moment is also essential for strong story telling, not just moving on to the next opportunity when the moment seems to be over. Often the best moments come after the moment I’m photographing. The next photograph was a tender bride hug by the mother of the bride. I’d positioned myself in front of the window for the best light whilst the mother of the bride attached the veil. The veil shot was lovely, one I know they wanted and I’m sure they’ll treasure, however this moment was the extra special one that I could have missed, had I moved on too soon. In this case I had to get to the church as quickly as possible, however a few extra moments with them was well worth it!
Documenting transitions at weddings is very important because transitions are an important part of story telling, whether that be on arrival or departure. It’s important to set the scene with different elements so that the viewer has context, gradually expanding the story close in on the action. Here are three shots that are interesting perspectives on arrivals and departures from venues, with two of them using reflections. The first is the arrival of Amy the bride at the Trafalgar Tavern in Greenwich. Amy was earlier than expected and had to hunker down in the London Black Cab to avoid guests seeing her as they arrived at the venue. This was the perfect opportunity to shoot some interesting candids of the bride and her bridesmaids, inside and outside the cab. In this shot, my favourite one, all the key elements were in place and it perfectly illustrates the energy and excitement everyone was feeing at that time. I’ve also always loved this image and since it won a Masters award several years ago, it has continued to win awards to this day, the latest and most prestigious shown on the top left of the photo, the coveted Reportage Award.
The second shot was also taken in London, at Sophie and Mike’s Southwark Cathedral wedding ceremony. I wanted to show the beauty of the church and the bride arriving with her father and bridesmaids, so I spent a few minutes considering options whilst they chatted by the gate. My choice was to show elements of the interior through the window and the bridal party reflected in the window. The result is an interesting and atmospheric shot that tells the story in an interesting way.
The final shot of three, the final shot in this post, sets the scene as the bride and groom leave Southwark Cathedral with some of the bridal party and a groomsman. The three elements to capture were, the people, the cathedral and the surrounding streets, as they made their way to the dock on the Thames for their boat journey to Greenwich. It’s a nice perspective and it’s certainly a shot that illustrates their journey in a simple. but effective way.
If you’d like to see more of how I document your day naturally, take a look at how I pure documentary wedding moments and how work with camera shy couples. It’s a great way to see how it’s possible to record the majority of the wedding day without any intervention and how we can record images of you, your family and friends you’ll adore.