The Evolution of Wedding Photography
There is no doubt that Wedding Photography has changed dramatically over the years. Gone are the days of holding static poses against church doors; today’s couples are after relaxed, natural and spontaneous photos. Contemporary Wedding Photography is about capturing the feeling and emotion of the occasion, and the main requirement is for a fun and candid record of the day as it unfolds and how it really was. The old principle of setting everything up for the benefit of the camera is pretty much outdated.
Having said this, I believe it is still important to include some of the more traditional images as many people still do expect these. A degree of posed and semi-posed photos do have their place in a couple’s final album and, of course, so do the time-honoured family photos.
When meeting with my clients for the first time, I always make sure to assess their needs and photographic preferences and in this way am able to determine a basis for a ratio of traditional to ‘photojournalistic’ or documentary style wedding photography which will make up the final mix.
The Digital Era
The digital age has certainly impacted this new style of photography. In the days of film, the Bride and Groom were presented with a package which included around 120 to 150 images. These days, owing to the technology at the photographer’s disposal as well as the negligible costs of capturing additional digital images, the couple can expect larger packages and more ‘keepers’. In this respect, photographers are able to be more adventurous in their work and embrace different genres (photojournalism, fine art and glamour), thereby moving away from the rigid confines of the more formal and posed photography styles of the past. Some of the very prolific Wedding Photographers are known to take up to 1500 photos at a single wedding and offer all of these to their client on a CD! While this might appeal to some couples, I prefer to be a bit more selective. For example, I don’t like to present my clients with dozens of ‘duplicates’ – it becomes confusing when choosing for the final album.
Because capturing images in a photojournalistic fashion requires hyper-vigilance on the part of the photographer (extra effort is required in order not to miss spur-of-the-moment captures) I prefer to take along a second professional photographer to each wedding to ensure that the day is covered from all aspects and that no important details are left out.
I shoot a wedding with two cameras and a number of lenses with different focal lengths depending on what the situation requires. I am a passionate about available-light photography and, as long as the situation allows, try not to use a flash. I have invested in cameras and lenses which are able to operate beautifully in low-light and I use them wherever possible indoors without flash (in particular for the bride getting ready and the ceremony if the church is bright enough) giving me very flattering naturally-lit photos without the unwanted side-effects of flash photography. Having two cameras means I never have to worry about unforeseen equipment malfunction or wasting valuable time changing lenses.
Some of my images taken indoors with no flash – bridal preparations
Some of my images taken without flash in the church and during the ceremony
Shooting the Reception requires supplementary lighting however and the use of flash is required for this part of the day. However for the most part I steer clear of on-camera flash as this results in flat directional light. I place my flashes on light stands in strategic locations in the room to create a more natural and even lighting situation, thereby resulting in more flattering images. In this way I am also able to shoot in difficult environments such as halls with thatch roofs or dark ceilings which are otherwise not conducive to an on-camera flash set-up.
I also choose to use the same set up for the formal Family Photos. I find that, in addition to giving these images extra punch and character, the off-camera flash set-up also allows me to photograph the Group Shots at any time of the day including times where making them with natural light alone would be impossible (such as during the harsh sunny conditions at midday or after the sun has set and it has become too dark to shoot without supplementary lighting)
Some of my images taken during the Reception with Off-Camera Flash
Some of my Family Photos taken with Off-Camera Flash
A final word
I try at all times to become a seamless part of the proceedings while at the same time remaining an integral part of the event. At times I prefer to be a fly on the wall inconspicuously recording the events as they unfold and allowing those around me to enjoy their day with as little interruption and stage management as possible.
Building a rapport with the Bride and Groom is vital to the success of any Wedding Day. And this takes place long before the Wedding Day, itself. I always offer my clients a pre-wedding photo-shoot. While giving me the opportunity to introduce the couple to my photographic style (and also to gain an understanding of their style preferences), I have found this to be an invaluable way of developing a solid relationship with the couple; of demonstrating how enjoyable being photographed actually can be; and most importantly, of building trust by enabling them to relax in front of the camera.
I consider it a great privilege to photograph a couple’s Wedding Day as it can be one of the most inspiring, motivating and rewarding tasks a photographer can have. So much planning goes into a Wedding (believe me, I have been there at my own Wedding!) with an enormous amount of work to make the day as perfect as it can be. I consider it my responsibility to put just as much effort into making sure everything runs smoothly from my side because ultimately the photos will be the only complete record of everything that happened. After all those months of planning and organisation, those precious few hours are literally gone in a heartbeat!
To return to my website, go to: www.lindyleeming.co.za