This week I found the opportunity to post on the blog in response to WordPress’s weekly photo challenge. The theme was illumination. I’m always looking for a theme where wedding photography can brought to bear, and this week I just about had time to prepare and post an entry. It also allowed me to tinker about with the hue and saturation controls in Photoshop to experiment with presenting a black and white image.
This was taken last April at an evening reception at Sprowston Manor Hotel near Norwich. I love taking pictures of children at weddings, and many of my favourite images from last year have children as the subject. Here I liked the expression on the girl’s face as she was obviously enjoying herself – with the boy sitting next to her totally unaware. The disco lighting from the right illuminates them quite softly. I prefer to use black and white in this particular case as the colours behind her head were a little distracting. Compositionally, there’s a left to right diagonal leading the eye out of the frame towards the focus of their attention.
Canon EOS 400D, 1/80 at f2.8, ISO 400.
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.
This month’s image is from a wedding I photographed (in my usual documentary style) earlier this year. This one left me in something of a quandry when it came to editing – as to whether to convert to black and white, after carrying out a quick fix of contrast and levels, or leave it in colour. The red object she is carrying is rather distracting, as is the rim lighting around it. I could have adjusted this, but decided to leave it as it was. The reason the image appealed to me was the way the light strikes her forehead, her concentration on what’s happening out of frame, and the narrow depth of field. The picture has its flaws, but I rather like it the way it is.
When it comes to photographing weddings, I’m a big believer in getting those detail shots in such a way that their context is clear. On its own, a picture of flowers, table decorations, place cards, shoes or whatever isn’t going to have anything like the same emotional resonance as a picture that relates the detail to people, or at least something that shows it’s clearly taken at a wedding.
As an illustration, here’s a picture I took at a wedding earlier this year in Norwich. It’s in a church, it looks like a wedding, the people are obviously concentrating on what’s being said, but the focus is clearly on the coloured ribbons in centre shot, and that’s exactly what I had intended. I like other elements of the composition – the strong curve of the wooden railing linking the people together and drawing the eye to the centre of the frame, but for me the main thing here is to establish the context of the decorative details.