“How do you prepare? Do you need to meet before the wedding? Do we need several meetings to discuss our big day? Do we need to meet to discuss the photographs we want? Shall we meet at the venue for a run through? How did you go about setting up that picture?” Many, Many questions asked, but from experience, by those who have little understanding of what they really want on their wedding day with regards to the Photography, and I suppose for some it is the way, perhaps due to what they read in a magazine or on a blog, which is quite often misinformation. To me, the ideas and opinions dished out by blogs etc are to a degree very generic and unhelpful, and tend to create a tentative and cautious mood and suggest a very complicated way of working. Every good photographer will find a way to work and as far as I’m concerned there should be very little pain involved for the couple who are booking. Documentary Wedding Photography works on emotion and the dynamic element.
I have always gotten a good feeling from the person on the other end of a phone call or email when they make contact with me, and after viewing the galleries on my website and speaking to me directly they then get an idea of the potential of what they can get when they view their wedding photographs, and after a good discussion they are excited by this potential. I can’t discuss the exact photographs you want, because I can’t work that way. I always strive to produce something new and for my work to progress, and I believe I have been successful in that aspect, and at other times the day will unfold in such a unique manner that I must follow that flow. I can give an idea of the mood and the atmosphere and the tone, it is easy for many to get a hint of what their wedding photographs may hold from the air of their wedding day, and when you view the pictures taken in my documentary style you will certainly recall the mood of the day, and that above anything else is very valuable.
And it still seems to surprise many that I do not set up any photographs, as if was not obvious enough that I don’t to the point where they will make a comparison with another photographer, and often one who clearly is not doing what I am doing. Example; I was pointed in the direction of one photographer, started off OK, the images look a bit forced, laboured, certainly nothing to do with what I do, then he had a couple jumping in front of a Triumph Stag, and there must have been about ten, twelve images of this, jumping in the air, star jumps or something, over and over… now, is that really Documentary? Or is it taking the piss? It is certainly nothing to do with my style of photography. And how after several meetings did both Photographer & Couple come to the conclusion that this was part of the plan? “Right, now, err… I’ll want you both to jump in the air…on the count of three”. On thing I can be sure of, is that if I asked many of my clients to do this they would give me a funny look. They know what to expect and jumping around like clowns is not part of it.
No amount of consultations will ever dictate what I will do on the day, and I cannot definitively say that you will get this image, this image or this image. Why? Because they day is completely fresh and falling right before me and I will record it as I follow it. It is a bespoke way of shooting. Hotels seem to be locked into a certain way of thinking too, and I am often receiving a phone call informing me of the “best spots”. But the best spots do not exist for me, perhaps for a certain type of photographer but not for me.
So, no. I do not set up Wedding Photographs, I Watch intently and I work intuitively and piece it together as I see fit, I take a Photojournalistic approach, I document the day. I take each wedding photography shoot as it comes, and my clients have to have complete trust in me to do this, and they do. Any concepts as to certain images must be parked. I must be allowed the freedom to photograph in my own style. As one groom said to me, “Phil, it was great, my brother had to more or less babysit his Photographer and answer to his every whim, you worked like we really wanted…” and I loved that! Let me loose and I can produce the goods, it is the only way I can do it.
The one thing I say over and over, like a mantra, is this “On the day I will ring the bell at your house during your Wedding Prep, once that door is open and I step inside I will start to get into the mood and take it from there….” There is still a certain magic to that approach.