I’ve often spoken in the past about my work and how it isn’t really wedding photography. Obviously it is. My career and business has been pretty much dedicated to photographing weddings, but what I mean is I’ve never really seen the pictures that myself and Sarah provide as being wedding photography in the accepted sense of the term. One of my street photography friends described our approach as being like a couple of National Geographic photographers capturing a ‘day in the life’ story of a couple of families on a wedding day. I can live with that. In fact it describes what we do very well. Although I’m not sure Nat Geo would be happy with the amount of black and white pictures we shoot!!
This picture is from a wedding. It was taken by me during the drinks reception. It doesn’t show a bride or groom. It doesn’t show a bridesmaid, or anyone in the bridal party. It doesn’t show any flowers or shoes. All of the things wedding photographs are supposed to show. These small and often overlooked moments are always constructed carefully and with consideration to the composition and light. They aren’t random snaps. We don’t do those.
The picture was taken towards the end of the reception. Most of the guests were outside with only a handful remaining inside. The lack of people forced me to look for something different in terms of picture. Something simple and interesting. The lines and shapes of the glass and aluminium structure of the bar caught my eye, along with the young man’s proximity to it. I felt there was a picture here if I was patient. The light was pretty flat because of the location of the bar within the marquee, so to make the picture interesting it would need some careful framing and good composition. The young man leaned against the bar with a canapé in his hand just as someone reached for their glass. I took the shot. This is the result. For me it’s what Cartier-Bresson referred to as a decisive moment; all the elements are in play within the frame and have all come together geometrically. It’s a simple shot but to my eye at least, it works. Take any of the elements out of the frame and the picture doesn’t work; the boy’s hand, the glass, the hand reaching for the glass. Even the people in the background work within the frame with the guy mimicking the boy. The dark suit contrasting with the hand to allow it to stand out, and the white bottle making sure the black sleeve also stands out.
If we look at the composition, we can see it works within the theory of the Golden Ratio, the Golden Spiral, or whatever you wish to call it. It also works well within the rule of thirds. I don’t consciously think about any of this when shooting, I just know what I want my pictures to look like within the camera. My photographic brain loves geometry and lines, and the placement of elements within a frame. Sometimes my images may need cropping slightly, but that’s absolutely fine, I can’t always be in total control over camera to subject distance at something like a wedding. The hands and glass became the main elements within the frame, and yet it was the boy and the bar that initially took my attention. In my mind I went from watching a potential scenario to reacting to a change and putting together a different picture very quickly. This is a picture that does appeal to my eye. Whether or not it’s a wedding photography. I’ll let you decide 😉