17 Jan Picture This: The Bride’s Sleepy Child
In my ‘Picture This’ series I focus on an individual image, or series of images, and explain why I like it.
The Bride’s Sleepy Child – wedding portraits, documentary style
Before I became a documentary wedding photographer I was a journalist editing a photography magazine. One day I interviewed a press agency boss who was well known in the photojournalistic world. I asked her what made a good news picture and she said, “That’s simple. A good picture must move you. But consistently taking those pictures, that’s hard.”
When I photograph a wedding, it’s that comment that keeps coming back to me more than any other I’ve heard. It’s the main reason why I love photographing weddings. (In fact, it’s the main reason why I love photography in general.) How can I best capture, the beauty, the love, the humour, the nerves, the emotion of a wedding day?
Documentary wedding photography
I start with people. I’m a people photographer. Sure, the country house or the cosy pub, the place settings, the flowers, the dress, etc, are all part of it and play an important role. For some clients more than others. But it’s people that move us – their love, humour, beauty, nerves, emotions. That’s what I’m looking for.
One of the great joys of being a documentary wedding photographer is creating candid portraits of couples and their guests, simply being themselves. Yes, I do spend a few minutes (and really only a few minutes) creating more formal, posed portraits for clients that want them. And most do. But, there’s something magical about capturing someone naturally, freezing a moment that speaks to all of us.
This type of portraiture takes observation more than anything else. Then being there at the right time. Then recognising a moment that will speak to us and seeing the light that best reveals it. In this image (above), towards the end of the evening, the bride was trying to talk to guests while at the same time comfort her sleepy child, knowing that she’ll soon need to take him to his bed. But at this exact moment he’s happy just to be in his mother’s arms and close to falling asleep at the end of a long and momentous day. This simple scene moved me to capture it. In years to come I hope he’ll look at it and feel moved too.
(Oh, and there’s no way I could have got a shot like this with a flash. That’s one reason why I don’t use flash at weddings if I can help it.)