A lot of weddings are the same. Everyone has their own style and way of doing things, but the traditions and structure of the day are largely the same. So it’s my job to make sure that I capture the things that are unique to each wedding. A key to this is establishing relationships with the bride and groom.
There’s more to it than just capturing photos of their closest friends and family. I try and see how the couple interact with each other and what sort of relationship they have; who are the friends that they will share a laugh and a joke with?
If you work out the important people and their relationships then you can capture those intimate moments and memories that will be unique for the couple.
Document Don’t Direct
I take a documentary approach to weddings to capture how the events of the day unfold. Of course I take some of the more classic portrait shots as everyone wants those, but the rest of the time I don’t like asking people to pose or tell them where to go. When the couple looks at the photos in a few years’ time I want them to remember the feelings and the emotions, and not remember being asked to pose constantly.
One thing I always look for is humour, and that can come from knowing these relationships. To be able to capture funny or emotional moments I need to be like a ninja. Switching from a DSLR to the α9 gave me Silent Shooting, which was a complete game changer. It means I can get close to people without distracting them and capture those meaningful and pure moments; when subjects hear the ‘click’ of a camera it often immediately distracts them and the moment is lost.
My go-to lens for most shots is the FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM. It gives me flexibility when moving around quickly and the focal range is perfect. I also carry the FE 85mm f/1.8 and – when I’m trying to be as discreet as possible – the FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA keeps my setup as small as possible.
Use Your Surroundings
A wedding really is playtime for me. I love hunting around a scene for unconventional portraits and finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. I want someone to look at the final image and say ‘wow! How did the photographer do that?’
For example, I recently used glass panels in a roof to create a leading line down to a couple who were stood in a pool of light. I didn’t retouch it, I just exposed for the highlights and the natural light in the scene did the rest. Using the electronic viewfinder of my α9 I could see exactly what the shot was going to look like before I fired the shutter.
Action and Reaction
A perfect documentary image is one where you have a whole story in a single image, and for that you have to have an action and a reaction.
I have this image where the groom was doing a dance for the bride. I took lots of shots of that dance but my favourite is where you can see his arms dancing, but not all of his face, while the bride is in focus in the background, laughing. I could have just taken a photograph of her laughing, but you would never know why. By adding him dancing, out of focus, you get the complete story - an action and a reaction.
Another of my favourite images is one of a guest holding up the menu cards. Everything comes together perfectly in that image. It has humour, graphical elements and it wasn’t posed. The venue was so bright and the light was pouring into the guests’ eyes, so they were all holding up the menu cards to stop them being blinded. It’s funny, but it will remind those who were there about so many details of that day; the venue, the glorious bright sunlight, the meal, the guests, all from one image, and it’s a fantastic out-of-the-box detail shot of the cards.
Another shot is one of a bride blowing a kiss to the groomsmen on a bus. Again, in that image I captured her action of blowing the kiss and the reaction of the groomsmen banging on the bus window. To get the shot I relied on the fast frame rate and Tracking AF of the Sony α9. I saw the bride running up to the bus and just knew I had to follow her. It happened in an instant - she blew a kiss and at the same time I had a split second to frame her head in a bus window and find an angle to separate her hand and chin. Because of the autofocus and 20fps shooting speed of the Sony α9, I was able to fire off a burst to get the correct framing whilst she was making the movement.
He concludes, “When I looked back I had that one perfect frame that I needed, and it just goes to show how crucial kit can be for capturing those perfect images.”
"In search of the perfection in the imperfection"