I remember one time receiving an email from what I’d term an “unpotential client” to photograph their upcoming wedding. And I was taken aback by the email as it had an almost to the minute time frame of the day and literally a blow by blow account of what I would do on the day and what the couple (and guests) would do on the day. I have to say, I found this all a bit farcical, and worrying. “At this time, we will go here, you will then do this before going here where you will…” get the picture? I’ve never worked like this and I won’t start now. It would not be fair to change tact and work style and it was clearly a job for somebody else good at working like that. So why even entertain it?
Stranger still, I had photographed weddings that this person had been a guest at, yet it appeared to me that they didn’t get the free-flowing approach, or perhaps assumed that the day was choreographed anyway. The idea that the day must be timed down to almost the minute and filled with well worn stereotype wedding images most certainly does not appeal to me whatsoever. But more than that, it is needless. The advice I would give is to forget about the clock and forget the generic stuff, on a wedding day it makes no difference to me and should not to you. And having a strategic layout for the day will certainly kill any spontaneity, and for me it just does not work, there’s more than one way to skin a cat, yet not in the wedding business in some folks’ eyes. And often hotels are the same “We’ll be doing a cake shot” Cake Shot? Like it’s 1988.
A wedding day generally has the same structure, preparations, ceremony, reception. I will take this loose brief and wrap the day with moments that I see and anticipate, and often anticipation is the key, and a reaction to what may happen. This for me keeps it fresh, and for those getting married it keeps it exciting, they then view the day with fresh eyes knowing the day was captured on the fly and in a competent manner.
Like I have stressed previously, each day is different, each day is unique (unique, the word that everybody seems to drop these days). So how do I as a candid wedding photographer keep it so? Well, quite often by having as little information as I need. Which probably would terrify some folk, and yet embraced by a core of others, a core that have kept me in business over a decade. These people want that spark of creativity, but more importantly want a day that will run as smoothly as possible, they just want to get on with it, they do not want to or will entertain being told what to do nor do they require an unrealistic timetable to keep to.
At times I’ll turn up ready to go. And even though quite rare, there’s sometimes the assumption that I will require those at the wedding to “do something”. Often, I’ll be asked “right, what do you want us to do?” Well… I’d rather if you’d just forget I was there to be honest. One time I had a best man inform me of what his photographer did, kind of hinting that maybe I’d do the same or wanted to do the same, which I made clear I would not do. To his surprise. I honestly find that weird to even suggest and completely boring, and isn’t that just what the world needs? Another homogenised wedding photographer doing the same thing week in week out? How dull is that? And I can’t stress this enough. I won’t create or set up a moment, once you start down that road you expose yourself and begin to draw a focus where it could be expected that each scene on the day just may well be dictated, and therefore time consuming. Not for me, instead I will watch and see what I can find to make the day that little bit more interesting. If a moment is gone it is gone forever, and so why try to recreate that? Another will appear at any given minute, and really, Isn’t that the best approach?