It isn’t just about the bride

Here’s a single black and whites conversion to try to sum up one of the things I enjoy most about photographing a wedding. It’s all too easy to follow the bride and groom around and photograph them either on their own or interacting with the guests, and there are some fine pictures to be found that way. But there is a risk of capturing some of the best moments happening elsewhere.

It’s a picture with two elements – guests taking photographs of the bride and groom, and an older child trying to keep a younger one under control. It’s relatively mundane – but often these moments go completely undocumented, which would be a pity.

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An emotional moment

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From a Suffolk coastal wedding last year, a captured moment during the wedding service. Quite tricky lighting and difficult to get everything just right with the camera, but I would rather risk a less than technically perfect shot to catch the right moment, with the bride just about to wipe away a tear.

There’s no time like the present

This has been a strange year. In February I was suddenly taken ill on holiday in Norway and spent two weeks in hospital, followed by a third week’s hospitalisation in Norwich. Then I had to go to a specialist Orthopaedic hospital in London in May for a second major operation in the space of three months. I’m well on the way to recovery but needless to say photography has taken a back seat – I have had to cancel one booking and turn down other enquiries, but I’m now in a position where I can accept offers of work again.

I came across an article in The Guardian on 13 September about someone (Amy Molloy) who accidentally deleted every digital photograph she’d ever taken. In the two months since that loss she has come to understand that looking back on photographs, particularly those taken on our best day, showing only our best sides, might stop us from living in the moment and ever feeling content.

But the main reason I mentioned this article in the context of wedding photography was when she referred to her own wedding day as an example of not placing her late husband on a pedestal:
‘…when I wrote about our wedding day, I didn’t mention the huge argument we had because I caught him smoking a cigarette at the reception. If the professional photographer noticed us feuding in the corner he certainly didn’t capture the conflict, but maybe it should be acknowledged. It may not be a picture-perfect moment, but it’s all part of the cartoon strip that made up our love story’.

I’d like to think that, had I been there, I would have captured that image.

A winter wedding photo shoot

We were in London last weekend to see the Nordic Noir festival on Brick Lane and had some time on the Sunday to visit Tate Modern; after crossing the Millennium Bridge towards St Paul’s we came across a young Chinese couple having their post-wedding photo shoot on the steps with the backdrop of St Paul’s itself. The quality of light was excellent. I only had a Canon Ixus compact camera with me, but along with other tourists I managed a few photographs before leaving the couple to enjoy their day.

In the third picture, I wanted to include a London bus to give a real sense of place and a different angle – the slogan ‘I love Mormons’ was unplanned but adds a certain something.

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Colour or black and white?

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From one of 2012’s weddings,  the evening celebrations, and an exuberant couple of hours – here featuring a series of choreographed dances that I just had to keep in full colour, really…

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And here is an earlier image from the same wedding, with some of the children enjoying themselves while someone was taking posed portraits elsewhere in the park. This works fine in colour, but I prefer it in a high contrast black and white!

An unseasonally snowy wedding

Here’s an image from a wedding I photographed in March last year,  showing the venue in a blanket of snow. I had wandered out into the grounds to take a few pictures of the buildings to give some sort of impression of what it was like on a winter’s evening with snow on the ground – a little unusual in March, but it was that kind of winter. At least it’s identifiably a wedding that’s taking place here.

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Thorpeness Hotel and Country Club wedding

I was pleased to be invited by the Thorpeness Hotel and Country Club, where I photographed a wedding in November, to submit a few images from the day that they might be able to use as part of a forthcoming article featuring the venue in the January 2014 edition of Suffolk Norfolk Life.

The picture that was used- see below – is of an antique suitcase used to display congratulations cards and similar at the reception with the guests in the background enjoying their food and drink. The other two pictures aren’t mine though…the November weather turned out rather dull and grey and not conducive to spending too long out of doors!

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The Country Club was a lovely venue, close to the cliff top in Thorpeness, and I was glad to be a part of the bride and groom’s day.

2013 in five images

Here are five images I’ve chosen as a way of summing up my year of wedding photography – not necessarily five of my favourites, just five that gave me something interesting to think about.

The first, from a March wedding in Essex, was taken as the bride was getting ready. What I liked about this composition was the arrangement of the three figures and the flow from top  right  to bottom left. Of course, it is also part of telling the story of that part of the day.

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The second, also from a wintry March wedding, shows the couple on the point of leaving the church. Resisting suggestions to photograph them from outside the church door, looking in, I took photographs next to them looking out – not just to record the event in a documentary way, but to capture a natural expression.

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The third is from a June wedding in Norfolk, and the composition was again of interest, with the bridesmaid speaking in the centre, the groom looking around rather distractedly, and the woman bottom left looking out of the frame.

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The fourth is also from a June wedding, showing a quiet and intimate moment between the bride and a guest.

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Finally an image from a November wedding in Suffolk, taken in the village pub before the wedding with the groom and groomsmen. Why can buttonholes often cause a problem?

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To sum up: an interesting year in which I photographed a small number of quite diverse weddings and also managed to come across weddings in such places as Germany and Italy, providing some additional images of the kind where wedding photography and street photography come together.

It so happens the all but one of the five I’ve chosen here are finished in black and white, though this was not a deliberate intention. I’ve found that for wedding photography, around a third of my final selection of images will be in black and white. With personal work (see for example the lighthouse photographs in my personal projects) I will invariably print the colour originals.

Before the wedding

The tables are laid, all ready to go……a scene from a recent country club wedding in Suffolk.  Though I’m not overly concerned about capturing the inanimate details of a wedding, preferring to concentrate on people and how they interact, these shots help to present a rounded picture of the occasion and pick up on little things that might otherwise have gone unnoticed.

So for instance here, there isn’t much going on, there’s no-one in the frame, but I liked the linking of the inside and outside spaces (and for anyone familiar with the venue, the buildings in the background might well help to locate it). There is a sense of something about to happen.

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I’d like to wish season’s greetings to all – and advance notice that I’ll be publishing a post with my five favourite wedding photography images of 2013 by the end of the month.

A winter wedding at the country club

From a lovely Suffolk wedding in November – I briefly nipped round from a position  on the other side of the groom and here’s a black and white taken from there. I’ll make some more images from this wedding available shortly. I do like black and white and I find that more and more of my photographs look better when presented this way.

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