“Did anyone ever do a runner?” I think this is probably the number one question I get asked, when I tell people I started my photography career shooting weddings. Others include “Did you ever see any family brawls?” and quite often “How did you handle the stress?”
When it comes to cachet, wedding photography is probably considered above the paps and pet photographers but, some way off the world of high end fashion, advertising or photo-journalism. Nevertheless, a good wedding photographer will probably borrow a little from all of the above to achieve success. I even photographed a few dogs and cats along the way.
Wedding photography was a fantastic training ground, not only in terms of my technical skills, but also in guiding me to photographing the human stories I love to capture today. I’d happily get some shots of the dress hanging on a door, the table centres or the expensive cake but it was the moments that brought me to life as a photographer. The tears and the smiles, the love and laughter.
I remember buying an expensive long lens when I first started, before realising that capturing real emotion means being comfortable getting close and more importantly making sure the subjects are comfortable with you being there. That means building rapport, having empathy and intuitively knowing when you’re too close, or you are simply getting in the way of memories rather than capturing them.
I learnt to always be looking for creative opportunities and noting potential locations. Early one morning I stood in a field, surrounded by sheep, checking out the wedding marquee before heading to the bridal prep. I noticed a river next to the field. Shallow, slow moving and with a beautiful bridge downstream to the west.
Fast forward ten or so hours and I was standing knee deep in the river, camera hovering above the water, capturing the bride and groom in front of the setting sun.
As I developed my business I learned to love the opportunity to be parachuted into the middle of a family during one of the most important days in their lives. I was on high alert looking for moments that could last a lifetime and determined to capture the essence of each day.
Was it stressful? Not really. I’m the type of person who loves to think on my feet and react. I found that taking the time to carefully plan, created the space for creativity during an otherwise hectic day. In answer to those other FAQ’s; No runaways and no brawls.
Today, I take much of what I learnt as a wedding photographer into all of my shoots. I’m still looking to capture those real moments and inject a true sense of personality into all I shoot.