Have you ever been to a wedding where the photographer was all over the place and distracting during the ceremony? Have you ever been to a wedding where the photographer stood in the same place the whole time? What do you image thier images are going to be like? What do you think the benefits and cons are? What kind of photographer are you during the ceremony?
I was in a photographers forum recently and this question came up: “Can we talk a little bit about whats appropriate and what’s not during a wedding ceremony as far as photographing goes? I feel like I’m pretty timid and conscious about ‘not disturbing’ the ceremony…but then I also want to get better shots. What are your ‘no go’ zones? Do you stand or crouch? Etc. Maybe someone can illustrate a ‘wedding ceremony’ play book.”
The question really resonated with me because it is something that I really have struggle with as well and I’m sure that I am not alone. Dan and I both have wanted to be BOLDER with our photography, because we know that when you really go for theÂ images, it is almost never a mistake. David GetzschmanÂ of Chrisman StudiosÂ said this and it really resonated with me, “Do something that they would not expect so your audience isÂ surprisedÂ andÂ you’reÂ surprised, and you value the time you spent making pictures, instead of looking at your shots and saying ‘O those are safe clichÃ©sÂ that I made.” IÂ cannotÂ begin to tell you how many times since I first heard that quote, that Dan and I have joked and said “No taking ‘O those are safe clichÃ©sÂ that I made’ photos!” As much as I know I should take the normal ceremony-from-the-center-aisle images, and the safe “kiss shot” I am constantly drawn towards taking really up close images, and images from really unexpected angles. I want to take photos that other photographers will look at and say, how did she DO THAT, while being respectful of my clients,Â theirÂ ceremony, andÂ theirÂ guests? So there lies the conundrum that wedding photographers who are like Dan and I, face. Our solution is to take both: the bold and the safe.
Right before a wedding recently, Dan and I looked at each other and I said to him… “Be Bold! It’s worth it. TheÂ photographersÂ that we respect are, and we should be too.” It was energizing, and we got images that I LOVE and am proud of.
Here’s my small take on what I can and cant do in a ceremony. First, my clients have certain expectations on what their ceremony shots will look like and I need to live up to that. That means if I was bold once, I should be bold again because they expect that. I try to remember that I shoot a certain way and a ceremony should be shot in the same style if at all possible, WITH RESPECT to the ceremony’s location and vibe. A few rules I follow is that I dont go past the middle of the aisle standing, but I can go all the way up to the front row if I stay low. I go behind the bridesmaid/groomsmen and take photos of their faces because the ceremony is sacred and the effect that it has on them is emotional. I know that if feels intrusive but… their faces tell the story. I take my cue from the photographers who inspire me and their ceremony shots… and those shots are FEARLESS! The photographer that I learned from, (Tracy Turpen) said this, “you may annoy the guests a little bit, but the only client in the room is the bride and groom, and when they see the photos, if you did your job well, they (the guests) will get over that quickly.”
The key to all of this for me is I must not truly interrupt the ceremony, or block the view of VIP guests. This is a real event in real life, and it is happening in theÂ sphereÂ outside of my viewfinder. I have to keep that in mind always. We have to make sure our clients are ok with our work and know what to expect. Our clients tend to be completely open to what we need to do to get the images that they are wanting. I also have to remind myself that if I am resisting taking an image, because I am afraid of what people will think of me, that is not a good enough reason to sacrifice an image from being taken. I also have to make sure that if I do go for it, I need to nail it 100%. The shots I didn’t take, sometimes haunt me actually, and theÂ gratificationÂ of giving our couples and image that really tells their story is so much more rewarding than playing it safe.