I’ve been lucky enough to have been photographing weddings since 2005, and I’ve seen many trends come and go, but one thing has stuck, and I hope it never becomes ‘un-cool,’ and that is Fine Art Wedding Portraiture.
When I first started 13 years ago, I was, well, not as competent as I am today. In fact, when I run my workshops, I show images from my first ever wedding to demonstrate to delegates that no matter what they think of their work now, they can improve if they set their minds to it! Frankly, I was rubbish and didn’t know a good portrait if it jumped up and bit me!
In 2015, I was awarded Fellowship of the British Institute of Professional Photography (BIPP) and Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers (SWPP) in Wedding Photography, more importantly, in Fine Art Wedding images. It had taken two years of hard work, at real weddings, and the cooperation of the couples. They were as invested in my project, as much as I was invested in the goal of making them look spectacular on their big day! So, how do you achieve Fine Art Portraiture during the hustle and bustle of a real wedding? I won’t lie, it’s not easy but here is my advice on how to achieve photos which will stand the test of time.
My main driving force is light. With the right light, we, as image makers, can make anything possible, but the secret is how to use it to its full effect. I’m sure those of you reading this are like me, there is no such thing as an ‘off switch’ to my brain, and I’m always looking for pockets of light at any venue, or bridal room I work in. Top tip; turn the lights off. Look for the pockets of natural light and make them work to your advantage, and deliver something that nobody else could.
Always ask for time. I know that on a real wedding day, the Bride and Groom (in many cases) are on a tight schedule, and the last thing we want is an angry chef because his soup is going cold, but I always explain that if we allocate 20 minutes on the wedding day, I can create timeless portraits of them that generations will look at and say, “wow, you looked amazing!”
It’s a dirty word, I know, so how about ‘direction’? Match the pose to the light; one should complement the other. Master this and you’ll be shooting for a fellowship of your own. Start with the feet. Craft the pose from the feet up and everything else will follow. If the feet are wrong, the whole body can look awkward.
Use the light first. Always. However, sometimes, the location will override light. How many of you have had the “Oh I’d love a photo here” from the bride?! My advice would shoot it, but wait until the light is perfect and explain your reasoning. “Yes, but not now. Now it will look OK, but in two hours’ time, if I come to get you during the meal and the light is hitting it from this angle, it’ll be perfect.” They’ll love you for it!
With the current trend of documentary wedding photography seeming to be growing, and some incredible photographers can do this a lot better than I can, I like to think that there will always be a demand for timeless, classical and elegant wedding photography in modern society.
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