Documentary story-telling wedding photography – my picks of the favourites and why!

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Rather than post the full photostory of Tom & Sophie’s wedding extravaganza  – a 14 hour epic  in which the time flew by too quickly but everyone including myself had a ball – I thought it would make a change to post a smaller selection of some of my favourite images from their wedding day with a little bit from me about why I like them.

As a wedding photographer stepping out early on someone’s wedding day with the promise to record it in pictures, if you are doing your job well,  you are basically conducting one great big and varied physical logistical mental and emotional juggling act that no one is or should be aware of but that you are internally totally focused on!

You need to be in the the right place at the right time, but never in the way; you need to be a highly sociable warm interested interactive person  – GWP (Good with People!) at any given moment and a quiet, calm, self contained observer at the next.

You need to have a plan, but be totally flexible and happy to change it if it doesn’t work out  (whether that is change in the light, your client’s plans or your own) and you need to open your mind to shoot with creative freedom and spontaneously, as well as strategically to ensure that you capture those absolutely key moments too that every client expects from their wedding photography.

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Getting ready shots… this is always lovely to photograph perhaps because I am a woman photographer I relate to the whole ritual, excitement and comeraderie between women when they are together getting ready. I pretty much exclusively shoot this stage in the day as a quiet observer, documentary style.

You do not need to interrupt and pose the bride to get great portraits or images that celebrate the dress and details of it. You can just wait for a turn of the head towards the light and a natural expression of excitement concentration or reflection and to shoot quietly without interfering in what is happening naturally in front of you:

Love this of Sophie and her brothers. Yes for this I got them into the light and position but then just waited til they focussed on each other, not me:

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No excuses for not capturing the back of the bride’s dress but again this is far better photographed naturally,  rather than as an orchestrated set up. Here I just observed from the other side of the room and waited until they had the train in position and had moved on to chatting about Sophie’s choice of earrings to go for it:

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I like the composition here with the figures of the girls at different heights but creating a pleasing overall shape. You feel as  the viewer that you are looking quietly on into a scene/ narrative. Not to compare myself in any way with the great Dutch painters like Vermeer! –  but there is a similar atmosphere in this image of looking into a domestic scene with the eye and thought going directly to Sophie and her sister in law and the moment of connection between them. Pictures like this with beautiful light, a narrative and a pleasing composition usually catch my eye:

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Love the utterly elegance and poise of Sophie here, very centred and serene and savouring every moment. When brides get into a good mental space like this, it makes for beautiful serene but strong images infused with atmosphere:

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Looking stunning.. Perhaps a few seconds of nerves/ taking a deep breath at the church entrance. Aboout 250 guests inside waiting for her…

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There are pictures that impress in terms of a clever composition, beautiful light, movement, symmetry etc. This is not one of them. This picture is simple and all about the people and connection and  emotion –  and there should be plenty of beautiful images of glances/ connection and direct exchange between the happy couple in any set of wedding images – pictures that go straight to the heart of what they and their day is all about:

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This is a must-have shot for every wedding – not always easy to achieve if the light is low and you can’t add a bit of flash – but always desired particularly by parents and grandparents –  and destined for a frame because of the sheer joy on their faces that they’ve done it!

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Love this – the light and colour and again a must have classic portrait but caught totally naturally with me somewhere in the thick of the crowd

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Love the way Tom has his hand on her shoulder and using one available arm to draw her towards him. Natural spontaneous relaxed moment:

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One  handed embrace again :

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Some photos just have to stay in colour. It was pouring with rain at this moment but a good light too – often happens… Who said bad weather is rubbish for wedding photographs and I can remove rain spots on dresses in post production very easily as I did here:  2017-04-27_0010

If you can make it fun for the kids – and getting on top of a vintage car (or any car for that matter) is fun for kids, then you are half way there to getting a memorable group photograph with a bit of zing:

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And the same goes for adults. I don’t suggest this shot, and it’s known among wedding photographers as a bit cheesy and certainly not very inventive, but you know what ? I disagree. It was hammering down with rain which was a challenge for everyone including me but the drama and chaotic-ness of the  weather, and the effect it had on everyone, makes this an even more hilarious and joyous memory.

Adults like fun too and in truth I secretly suspect most brides aren’t that averse to being lifted up by a dozen ushers:

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This picture stands out for me for two reasons: the composition (foreground and background interest) and the shapes and movement, but also because the guy with the two umbrellas is Sophie’s older brother Hayden who literally dedicated his entire day to making sure that his sister was looked after and had everything as perfect as he could possibly make it for her.

Here he’s dashing out into solid rain to offer help Tom and Sophie as they make their way to the marquee entrance from the house. So much in this picture that will trigger memories for them in the years ahead. Again if you are doing a good job as a wedding photographer you won’t just be focussed on the usual shots (seconds later I was shooting them entering the marquee from within) but constantly looking for quirky story-telling moments like this on the periphery of things:

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I have a bit of a thing about grooms that show emotion. Truly most men don’t in general day to day life, but if you can’t get a bit overwelmed on your wedding day then I don’t know when else.

Every wedding photographer needs to stay acutely attuned to these often split second moments – keeping focused, watching, observing and being ready.

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I love to capture the warmth of relationships and friendships that are being expressed constantly on a wedding day:

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Many many many party shots I could  have chosen but ultimately this is my favourite of Tom and Sophie’s first dance – love the light, love the hands and love the total focus of them both on each other.

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If you are planning your wedding or know someone who is – grand scale or low key – I’d love to hear from you so please get in touch.

Sophie and Tom ordered two 14 x 10 inch absolutely stunning  Queensberry classic matted wedding albums – a timeless physical record of their day which I know will be treasured and passed down to their families in the generations to come.   Selecting, optimising for print, designing and creating these albums is a labour of love for both me and Queensberry but they are most definitely one of the most satisfying aspects of  what I can produce for my wedding clients and couples are always visibly moved when they see the finished result – which makes me very happy indeed.

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