Picture This

Picture This: The Kids Go Wild

Picture This: The Kids Go Wild

In my ‘Picture This’ series I focus on an individual image, or series of images, and explain why I like it.

The Kids Go Wild – capturing a wedding moment

What’s the difference between a painter and a photographer? Of course, the most obvious difference is the tools they use to create a picture. But what else?

One of the main differences is the fact that photographers, especially documentary photographers, are always thinking about the framing of what’s in front of them. The great photography curator and critic, John Szarkowski, put it best when he said the main concern for a photographer is what to include and what to reject. “The line of decision between in and out is the picture’s edge,” he said. “While the painter starts with the middle of the sheet, the photographer starts with the frame.”

As a documentary wedding photographer I make thousands of these decisions in the course of a wedding day. Some are small and very instinctive, while others need more conscious thought. But either way, I’m always asking myself how I can compose an image that will best describe what I’m seeing and, in fact, what I’m feeling. Where do I need to stand? Which lens should I use? How will the strength and direction of the light affect the image? How can I ‘arrange’ the various elements?

Documentary wedding photography

This picture of children dancing in a field towards the end of a wedding day in Sussex is typical of my photographic style and approach. As the wedding headed into the evening I noticed the children were becoming more chaotic and slightly delirious. It’s a long day for the kids! The ‘witching hour’, as we parents call it, had begun.

As the music cranked up and I got a few shots of the adults letting their hair down on the dance floor, I spotted the children throwing some crazy shapes in the field next to marquee. They were so wild in their dancing – twirling and diving around – that they were completely unaware of me.

I wanted to capture this joyous, out-of-control scene in a way that did it justice. I also wanted to include in the background the stately and contrasting presence of the old Rolls-Royce that had played such a prominent part earlier in the day.

So, I slowed the shutter speed to give a sense of movement to the dancing and increased the depth of field to make sure the car was in focus. Then it was just a matter of framing an interesting composition. I waited and waited, and probably took two or three pictures before I saw the shot I wanted. Suddenly a triangle was formed by the children, the car and the stray shoes. I had my picture – a picture that captured a moment, but more importantly, captured what it felt like in that moment.

If you’re getting married and like my documentary style, I’d love you to get in touch.