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.
From a wedding last summer: as is often the case, the centre of attention lies elsewhere. One person has noticed me, the others haven’t, which is the way I like it.
I’ve been debating whether or not to choose a favourite image from the weddings I photographed in 2012. There were many to consider, ranging from images of the brides and grooms to all sorts of images of wedding guests in a variety of settings. Some that appealed to me greatly at the time have lessened their impact a little since then, and it’s been far from easy to pick just one image. So in the end I have fudged the issue somewhat and picked a closely related of images – as I rather liked the similarities and differences.
Here are two photographs of three bridesmaids from a wedding in June at the Old Rectory in Great Melton near Norwich. We had been wandering around the music room with a couple of other members of the family while the bride’s preparations were underway, and I was in the process of taking pictures of them wandering around the room exploring the musical instruments and generally relaxing and enjoying themselves. Some of the pictures I took in this room are among my favourites from the wedding (I find children often make the best subjects and they were no exception).
In both pictures the girls are posing for someone else off camera to my right. In the first one, they aren’t fully settled in to their poses and still show fairly natural expressions – admittedly each one is different. In the second picture, taken a couple of minutes later, they are posing and their expressions are quite different. I prefer the first one – but taken together, they tell something of a story and I think they have much more meaning than if they had been looked at separately. Just a small point, maybe, but for me it’s an interesting one nonetheless and that why I have made these my favourites from 2012.
This month I’ve gone back to a wedding I photographed in June to look at some of the pictures I didn’t really rate at the time as among my favourites, in case they appealed to me. I do think that’s a useful exercise, as it’s all to easy to be drawn to certain images and skip over many of the others without thinking about their full potential. To some extent it’s just a question of numbers and trying to keep the process manageable.
For this month’s selection I found a shot of the bridesmaids sharing a happy moment with relatives quite early on in the day and as soon as I saw it I could see the potential. A crop to remove some of the distractions in the foreground and to the right of the group (plastic bags, clothes, a rucksack), and a black and white conversion to remove the distraction of the red bridesmaids’ dresses, with a fair amount of contrast, gave me the image I was looking for. The composition of the group is tight and balanced, the mirror helps to pull the elements together. Not quite all the distractions can easily be removed, but for me the spontaneous emotions of this scene make the shot a good one – and one that is true to my style.
Each week there’s a WordPress photo challenge – an invitation to post an image related to a particular theme, this week’s being ‘mine’. I decided to use this to post an image taken at one of this year’s weddings. The picture I chose was of a small girl at a woodland wedding I photographed in June. She was sitting in a tent, eating sausages in a bun. This is just one of the shots I took of the children – they usually make the best subjects as they tend to be uninhibited and rarely seem to notice the camera. Of course, this isn’t obviously a photograph taken at a wedding, but this was hardly a run of the mill type of wedding anyway. For me, I’m sure she is thinking the bun is most definitely “mine”.
Here’s one of the photographs from Tracy and Ian’s woodland wedding held in June in the grounds of The Old Rectory, Great Melton near Norwich. I hadn’t given this picture much thorught originally, partly because I had so many images of the bridesmaids that I really liked. But going back through all the pictures taken in the house, around the time the bride was getting ready and the young bridesmaids were exploring the property, this is one that interested me.
In the music room there were all kinds of musical instruments set out, to the great delight of the bridesmaids, who no doubt were glad of a break between getting ready and the time when they would have to go out through the gardens to the marquee where the ceremony would be held (and hoping that the rain would stay away). I went into the room with them, hoping something interesting would happen.
She’s so lost in what she’s doing, she’s taking no notice of me as I capture her concentration. For me, it’s one of those things easily missed, and probably not even looked for if you’re concentrating totally on the bride of even just switching off for a while. Of course, the image isn’t obviously taken at a wedding, but it’s one of the parts of the day to record and appreciate just as much as shots of the main activity. It’s an ordinary shot, but it’s full of meaning.
In June I was invited to photograph Tracy and Ian’s woodland wedding in the grounds of the Old Rectory near Norwich. This was really interesting fo me as I hadn’t experienced this type of wedding before, and realised that the weather would be critical. In the end, though we dodged the showers from time to time, the day was fairly warm and the whole day was a great success. Guests mingled in a woodland garden setting with a marquee, tests, yurts and a woodland walk in the grounds of an old rectory a few miles out of Norwich.
The whole event was quite informal, with few speeches, a really interesting handfasting ceremony, storytellers and acoustic musicians.
My approach is very much that of a documentary wedding photographer or photojournalist. I try to record the events, incidents and emotions of the day as they unfold. I did get free licence to roam around and take candid photographs, and in addition a number of posed portraits and group shots, and a few shots of the bride and groom in some of the more unusual settings around the grounds of the old rectory.
I’ve included a small selection of my favourites here.