Wedding Photography, for me I suppose, is a search for magic. A game of hide & seek, with the prize, a brief second, framed & bound; the tethering of an instant; an essence of a day, sampled and vial-ed for a loving couple to cherish, to remember and to pass along. Allowing the party to go on, not only late into the night but to be embalmed…forever!
When shooting my first weddings I would hunt high and low for magic. I knew it existed. I had seen it. I’d seen it in other photographers’ work and, occasionally, I was lucky enough to have glimpsed it for myself.
A loving, lingering glance, cut short by a clamorous call; a glistening eye, blinked away in macho haste; riotous laughter – I watched as it exploded and then fizzled out, an instant later – a diminuendo, never to be repeated; lost for ever. I watched it walk around a corner or run out of a door; turn its back on me & never glance back; glide from a clear well of warm lamp light into a cold, chaotic corner, within the wink of an eye.
I frantically searched for these fleeting compositions. I chased my quarry from pillar to post; I trailed the bride like a witless chick, fruitlessly stalking images that would evanesce as quickly as they appeared. I desperately knew what I wanted but not how to ensnare it.
After many years, I am beginning to gain a little confidence behind the lens. The nerve to “stalk” alongside proceedings, rather than to trail behind. The courage to watch & wait patiently for magic to happen, while a myriad of moments pass by, slip out the door and are lost forever. I must now be brave and ignore these charlatans. They are only there to entice & distract me; they must be foreseen, forgone and forgotten.
Anticipation is instinct. It can’t be taught, just learned through reiteration & experience – only then, only gradually and definitely never always, will time slow.
Remain free of diversion and focused on the present, is but my humble advice; concern yourself with a single notion and calmly visualise what may – or may not – be about to transpire. Above all, don’t panic! Of course, this isn’t easy. Doubt forever looms abundantly.
“Should I really be shooting the bride’s reaction? Am I making a mistake shooting towards the window? What would other photographers do? I was challenging all my own rules & conceptions; I felt foolish. Was this wise? Should I re-focus one last time? Is the image exposed correctly? How can I improve this composition?…but what if…”
…I slowed down, tried to stay calm & concentrate, resolved to take the best photograph I could and to hell with the consequences! I depressed the shutter…
…Nothing bad happened…No one died!… I took a photograph and was pretty pleased with the result. I then turned around and took a few more, of the bride’s delighted reaction to the scene. Nothing was lost, a little magic was captured and next time, I shall be a little braver still.