Wedding Ceremony Photography // The decision makers
I suppose this is the one section that cannot really be missed out. If there’s no wedding ceremony then there’s no Wedding. I originally thought that examining my style of Wedding photography would be difficult. I mean the same rough series of events usually take place each and every time without variation. The key players enter, words are said, usually in one fixed place and then the newly wed couple leave together. Whether it’s a cathedral wedding or an outdoor wedding ceremony, a wedding in Europe or a Wedding in America, the same rules always apply. Then I started to think a little more about what is actually involved in wedding ceremony photography. How much experience helps, and how what many of us Wedding photographers take for granted as a relatively simple task, is actually really difficult to get right.
My first ever ‘real’ job was working for the government and my official job title was ‘decision maker’ I say ‘real’ job as I can’t bring myself to call the process of traveling the world, attending luxury weddings an actual job. For the record I’m writing this article whist sat in a restaurant two days before photographing a chateau wedding in France. The sun is shining, I have a beer in hand and I can see nothing but rolling hills and golden light. I’m considering how long this will take as I fancy a nap. As Mark Knopfler once sang (ask your mother) “That ain’t workin”.
Anyway, back to wedding ceremony photography. Making decisions. A wedding ceremony involves making so many decisions, both quick fire and pre planned. It just amazes me how much we Wedding photographers forget this. We firstly have to be empathic to the individual in charge – UK Wedding celebrants, American wedding pastors, Indian priests or Jewish rabis… ultimately they call the shots and as Wedding photographers we need to work by their rules. One of the greatest skills you can have as a professional Wedding photographer is getting this person on your side. You may need to bend the rules slightly or push your luck a little but if you’ve made an enemy from the start then this is never going to happen. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked as a Wedding photographer and the priest has swiftly announced that ‘No photography is allowed’. On every one of these times, my wedding couples have been completely unaware. You’re faced with so many decisions. Do you try to negotiate or do you operate in secret from the back? Imagine breaking the news that you have no wedding photographs of the ceremony. This does happen.
So already even before you’ve even lifted your camera key decisions are being made. You then need to consider positioning. If you care about what is happening and you’re aim is to be respectful ( I am) then you need to consider how much movement you’re gonna undertake. If all eyes are directed to the front and it’s a solemn moment, them you’ll stick out like a sore thumb if you’re jumping from position to position. It’s a tightrope walk at all times. With hundreds of people sat watching you can probably manoeuvre around the sides without anyone even noticing. But what about this creaky floors? You obviously checked them first right? “We are gathered here today…..creeeeek……To witness the marriage of……creeeeek……” See what I mean? It’s a game of experience, not necessarily which camera settings you have chosen. Everything needs to be considered with wedding ceremony photography. How do you photograph two things at one? The grooms reaction seeing his new bride and her glorious entrance walking down the aisle. How to you capture the ‘kiss’ from the front but then get the shot of the couple leaving from the back?
Experience and nothing else has taught me how to take the best photographs of wedding ceremonies. It’s not about the camera (unless it sounds like a machine gun). It’s about being a sweet talker, a decision maker, a ninja like creeper who can spot a mother’s teary wipe before it’s happened. It’s about knowing when to move and when to stay deadly still. It’s about knowing what to do with your face when you’re the only person the bride and groom can see. I once shot a huge celebrity Wedding where my only option to get the killer shot from the front was to join the choir! – robes and singing included Sometime you gotta do what you gotta do! x
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So if you like what you’ve read and my wedding ceremony photography is the kind of thing you’d like to look through in years to come, get in touch. I’d love to hear from you x
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Mey’s relaxed wedding ceremony in Germany was full of wonderful opportunities to capture emotions from all her family and friends.