Wedding photography is a precise and subtle art. To recreate the atmosphere of the wedding, as well as to get plenty of beautiful portraits of the bride, bridegroom, their families and friends, you need more than good equipment and hard work. Not only must you have the sensitivity to understand the wishes of the bride and bridegroom before you start, but at the wedding itself you need to be able to predict constantly what is about to happen, even when totally unscripted. Patience, persistence and a total renunciation of self-consciousness are also vital qualities if you are to get the best wedding photographs. However, there are more things for a wedding photographer to bear in mind than simply the challenging task of getting the best images.
A wedding is a very important event in the lives of those involved, and the photographer must remember that the photographs are not the sole purpose of the event. A photographer must not be too intrusive or too demonstrative, and I would go as far as to say that he or she should be as invisible as possible. The solemn and immensely personal aesthetic of the ceremony itself for example, can easily be upset. A wandering photographer, or one who positions themselves directly in the view of the guests, or even worse, in front of the bride and bridegroom, can distract horribly from the more important things at hand.
As for the group shots, everyone has at some point been at a wedding where these seem to take over most of the event, this is far from desirable. In essence, a wedding photographer should document (not direct) the wedding. They should work in total harmony with their surroundings, responding to each and every person and each and every happening with sensitivity and skill. In my experience, being the perfect wedding photographer is just as important as taking the perfect photographs and this is why wedding photography is such demanding and exhausting work.
Having said that, it is largely the wedding photographs by which the wedding will eventually be remembered. This is why natural and honest photographs that depict the wedding as it really was are the best wedding photographs. Overly styled or posed photographs will not only be less meaningful but will fail to remain evocative for the future. And it is for future memories that the photographs will largely have to serve.
Think about any wedding photographs you have seen of your parents, grandparents or indeed of generations before; they are a joy to look at because they represent the people as they really were: smiling, laughing, or crying at what is traditionally one of the most pivotal moments in their lives. I have seen some contemporary wedding photographs that depict nothing more than the glossy magazine fashion of the time, a silhouette of a bride and groom under a palm tree, or a blurred image of a figure in a white dress running across a bridge. These photographs could be of anyone and this is missing out on the whole principle of wedding photography which, of course, is to capture something personal and something real. A beautiful wedding photograph is somewhat vacuous unless it somehow represents a real person or indeed a real moment, and this is what a wedding photographer should bear in mind every time they photograph a wedding.
By Phoebe Ling