26 Nov Picture This: The Triangle of Empathy
In my ‘Picture This’ series I focus on an individual image, or series of images, and explain why I like it.
The Triangle of Empathy
Some people might say that this isn’t even a wedding photograph. It’s true that there’s nothing to suggest it’s anything to do with a wedding, but it’s the type of unposed, documentary wedding photo that I love looking out for in between the more obviously weddingy scenes.
I took it last year in the build-up to Sarah & Nick’s wedding in the ancient church of St Leonard in Bengeo, Hertfordshire. There was a lot of frantic dashing around from nearby Harlow, to Hartford and then onto their wedding reception at Essendon Country Club.
Pure documentary wedding photography
When I photograph weddings I’m always thinking about the range of images I’ll be able to give my clients. Nearly all are purely candid pictures, but I don’t want all the photos to be ‘about the wedding’, so to speak. That’s why, as a documentary wedding photographer, I also try to be aware of what’s going on away from the ‘main action’ of the bride and groom and the wedding party.
I’d noticed this peaceful scene among the excited comings and goings of everyone getting ready – hair being done, make-up applied, flowers delivered, champagne being sipped. I took a few pictures and thought were good and captured the calm mood, but they were lacking an extra ingredient, – something to juxtapose this lovely familial scene.
When I see something promising, if I have the time, I look what else I can include in the frame that might make it more interesting. In this case, the programme and the presenter that popped up on the TV. I knew having two elements would make for a better picture, but as soon as the TV presenter smiled and ‘looked at’ the baby being fed, click, that was my picture. In a split second, a good photo got 10 times better.
Suddenly a triangle was created, from the presenter to the feeding baby to the viewer of the image. The smiling presenter is expressing how we (the viewer) feel about the scene. And now that empathy is forever reflected back at us in the form of a photograph, and a story is told.
For me, if it happened on the day of a wedding and it tells a story and moves the viewer in some way, then it’s a wedding photograph.
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