A question that is asked of me fairly often in initial meetings, in different ways, is “What is your style of wedding photography?”. It’s an important question to ask, although perhaps slightly harder to answer.
Stay with me while I go off on a seemingly bizarre tangent. If you were to ask me what my favourite flavour of ice-cream is, then my eyes would glaze over for a few seconds as my mind ran through all the wonderful different combinations. I’d probably come up with something like honeycomb crunch or even mint-choc-chip but that wouldn’t really be the truthful answer. In reality, I LOVE most flavours of ice-cream. In fact, mention that you’re going to have an ice-cream van or bike or… I don’t know – horsebox? – at your wedding, and I’ll be there like a shot.
Anyway, back to the point. Whilst one flavour of ice-cream is wonderful, in truth my favourite ice-cream is made up of two or three ice-creams in the same bowl. I feel like my ice-cream analogy may have run its course at this point!
My wedding photography style is a mix of different approaches. I usually say that 90% of the photographs that I will take at your wedding day are documentary, candid, reportage-style images. This might be called a photojournalist approach, although there are differing degrees of photojournalism. Wedding photojournalism is about documenting the day as it happens. A strict advocate of photojournalism will set up nothing. They won’t arrange group photos, they won’t style any details like your dress or shoes to be photographed and they don’t take posed portraits
I am not a strict photojournalist. It’s not my style to leave your photos entirely to chance. Let me give you an example.
Quite often I will arrive at a busy house or hotel room on the morning of the wedding to photograph the bride or groom getting ready. It’s happy chaos, with clothes and bags spread liberally around the place. There’s beautiful light coming through a window but the rest of the room is dark and cluttered. In this situation, I wouldn’t interfere too much but I would ask the bride to move close to the window when she’s putting in her earrings, or the groom to stand in a particular place to put his waistcoat on. What happens after that though is entirely up to them. If they laugh, or hug someone, then I’ll capture it.
In essence, I’ll put you in the right place to make the most of the surroundings and light but then I’ll step back to allow everything else to happen naturally. I find that this strikes a nice balance between allowing my clients to feel comfortable, photographing in the best light and surroundings and still having a candid approach.
Don’t worry though – I won’t follow you around all day telling you where to stand. This is just an example of an occasion where I might need to step in, momentarily.
So, if 90% of my photographs are photojournalistic in style, what about the other 10%?
Well, that’s made up of photographs that are slightly more posed – although, as you’ll see, even these aren’t completely staged.
At some point on the wedding day, we’ll take twenty minutes or so to photograph the two of you alone. A very traditional wedding photographer would take a much more hands-on approach at this point, carefully posing each of you down to the tiniest detail and with you often smiling into the camera. Every detail would be perfect, from the lighting to the location to the pose. Traditional wedding photography is a very skilful practice and can produce some beautiful, striking images.
Whilst my style is certainly more photojournalistic, I appreciate the technical craft of the traditional wedding photographer and there are elements of traditional wedding photography that I like to incorporate in my couple’s portraits. When I take a couple out for portraits, I’ll take some shots of them walking, talking, cuddling and acting naturally. I’ll also take some more posed shots, but even with these, I’ll be looking for the natural moments within them.
To sum up my style, I’d say that most of the images that you will see in one of my wedding galleries will have been shot exactly as it happened, a few will have had some small suggestion from me to help improve it, and then perhaps 5 – 10% will have had a lot more input in terms of posing or location.
Take a look through the blog posts and other images on my website: if you see a bride laughing, that really happened; if you see a groom shed a tear, that’s not staged.
When I say that I want you to feel completely comfortable in front of the camera on your wedding day, I mean it. That’s why the engagement shoot is a central part of my approach: unless you are already professional models, you’ll need some tips, some pointers on how to look great in your wedding photos. But the story of the day is the main thing. That’s what I’ll focus on capturing at your wedding. Your day, moment by moment.