Stamford Theatre : The Story behind the picture – I knew this was going to be funny photograph the instant the camera shutter clicked
A moment of spontaneity – With no pressure to perform Celia and Michael look comfortable laughing with their friends and family.
I’d like to share a few words about how and why this photo came to exist – Moreover, why its not just another happy couple smiling blandly to camera, nothing special, a photo we see many times over?
I photograph everyday people, plain and simple. – Yes albeit during one the most significant days of their lives, but that fact alone doesn’t have to change who we are, or how we behave. Always being ready and prepared to shoot is a big part of how I capture some of what I do but this short article will talk about preparation from the bride and grooms perspective.
First though just think of this; imagine a photograph of a musician on stage taken from say 40ft away. Now compare that to a photograph taken much closer say 6-8ft away. In the second photo you feel part of the action, the photograph helps you feel what it was like to be there at that moment, showing the energy and emotion of the musician. By contrast the other photo just shows that something maybe took place way over there. Without changing the natural course of events I photograph closer for more time when is appropriate to do so. I’ll explain a little about how I achieve this; encouraging the people I work with to feel at ease around me.
Its true many of the best photographs are created in a fleeting moment. I’ve found that whilst we don’t always know whats going to happen, the reward for being ready and letting a moment play out without interaction often rewards with the best surprises. To me that seems like enough reason to wait, look and see that magic moment happening all by itself.
The setting for Celia & Michaels wedding was Stamford Theatre; a historic building which attracts regular circuit shows and performing acts but turned wedding venue for their wedding day. Celia and Michael literally held centre stage for their wedding ceremony, fond of film and cinema the couple sought to share their passion with friends and family for their wedding day.
So why did I get the cake shot? The short answer is confidence. How Celia & Michael arrived at that feeling is not as obvious some might first think. Like most couples I meet, Celia and Michael appreciate good photography and they like natural candid photos hating the thought of standing to pose in front a camera. That said they loved the thought of photographs of their wedding day which they could enjoy, connect with and feel proud to share.
Its fair to say I use as many opportunities as possible to create natural photographs, so it helps the couples I work with if they have a more comprehensive appreciation of what I might do. I prefer a very natural integration during a wedding, from a subconscious perspective it helps couples to know that I will continue shooting the less obvious, abstract moments and I require no extra interaction in return.
I often hear the word unobtrusive connected with photography. How do we really measure that though? To some people being obtrusive means being in the same room, to others it might mean interrupting or acting inappropriately. Surely taking the appropriate approach to capture a moment is far more significant than just hiding on the sideline for fear of being obtrusive. I talk openly with my wedding couples about what we might look to do and show plenty of photos of what I mean.
What is important with photographs, especially wedding photographs is that the viewer can connect, feel something, sense what it might have been like to be there or see how a person reacted or felt.
Without relevance or meaning whats the point of taking a photo in the first place.
As they both live and work in London we chose to meet up for their consultation meeting when they were back in Stamford; we talked about the typical wedding things you’d expect, timings, who was coming etc etc. Importantly though we also spent time looking through photos; my photos from weddings and couples from my archive. This important process of immersing in what photos actually look like; when they might be captured; how the less obvious moments contribute to make up the story of the wedding day all help to instil a familiarisation of what I will create and shoot. We then spent 20-30mins at Stamford Theatre where I took some photos of them together whilst they explained the run of the day and lighting situation!
Becoming more familiar with the look, feel and style of my photographs helped Celia and Michael build a better association with what I might photograph during their own wedding day. Furthermore, I explained how certain photographs were created, how close I was, what else was going on and why I felt certain moments where important to record.
You see many folks are just plain and simply new to the idea of having pictures taken, have no idea what is being created by the person with the camera or what on earth they might look like in that picture!
Michael explained that he whilst doesn’t really know why, he’s just never felt comfortable with the whole thing of having photo’s taken. He was prepared to try for Celia, make sure they got photographs of them both together (something they had few of), it was important to him.
We addressed this minor anxiety in a couple of ways and again I referred him to photo’s of other couples I have worked with and photographed. Instilling a confidence and explaining a few techniques he might consider and should help him have one less thing to concern himself on his wedding day.
As with all wedding couples I photograph, I wanted Celia and Michael to have a mental picture in their minds of what it might be like on their wedding day. Knowing what to expect at certain points helps remove questions in the mind – I do very little in the way of prompting or organising, so couples don’t look to me for where they should be going. Through my approach I encourage natural behaviour in people throughout a wedding day.
Going in to their wedding day Celia & Michael would have a clearer vision in mind about what we’d be doing and when. They’d get on, do their own thing; go where they wanted, talk, drink, catch up with friends whilst I would do the work.
To avoid uncertainty we’d identified when, where and for roughly how long we’d spend taking family photos and also some time alone together. This is important as everyone attending the wedding is affected. Lets face it we all hate not knowing what we’re supposed to be doing, especially at someone’s wedding:) Above all Celia and Michael would possess an overriding positive feeling that I would be creating photographs in the style we’d talked about and they had seen in my portfolio.
Sounds simple really, cutting their cake Celia and Michael where listening to the jokes, comments and laughs of their friends and families. They had become comfortable with me being near them, didn’t feel pressure to perform in any way other what came naturally or spontaneously.
I waited for the right moment to present itself and they were totally comfortable and full of confidence having this photo taken. The results of a combination of positive mindset, pre-wedding preparation and suitable wedding day shooting style.
This is part of the story of how Celia, Michael and I prepared for their wedding day and I hope it explains a little more about how and why I work the way I do.
If you’d like to talk with me about your wedding plans or would like more information please get in touch