Documentary Wedding Photography, Pencoed House, Wales

I was listening to an interview with Steven Spielberg a while ago, during the publicity for "Lincoln", and he mentioned that he tried to keep the camera "quiet" for this film. He wasn't talking about how audible the camera was, but his approach to the camera's viewpoint, lens choice and movement. His intention was that the camera shouldn't call attention to itself in what was an essentially "talky" film that relied more on script and performance rather than spectacular visuals.

As soon as he said this it resonated with me, as its the approach that I've always preferred in my own stills photography. I started my career as a newspaper photographer where the rule is that you use whatever equipment is available to get the most visually interesting picture you can. That could be anything from an extreme wide-angle to a super-long telephoto. Obviously in some situations, your position relative to the action is severely constrained and the equipment is the only thing that allows you to get a picture at all.

But as I've moved away from press photography and more towards the wedding photography I do now, I've been able to shoot the way I really want to - with a "quiet" approach.

I've never owned or used a fisheye lens - I simply don't like the results they produce. And the longest lens I own is a 300mm telephoto that I rarely use anymore (and never at weddings). These extreme focal length lenses exaggerate perspective in a way that distracts from the content of the photograph. They emphasise equipment and technique over subject. A picture taken with a fisheye lens is exactly that - it doesn't matter what the subject is, the "fisheye-ness" of it is all you're going to notice.

My preference has always been to keep the picture looking as natural as possible, so that when you look at the photograph, you're seeing what you would see if you were stood where I stood when I took it. The result is intimate images that are more involving for the viewer.

Of course, this approach doesn't only have an effect on the lens choice but also camera position and composition of images. An extreme viewpoint can also call attention to the photography rather than the subject. Which is why you won't see me lying on the floor and shooting up people's noses, or standing on tables and shooting the top of people's heads. These are not natural angles to view people from and so the photos become about the "photography" and not about the people in those photographs.

Wedding photography at its most fundamental level is about photographing people. What makes the photographs interesting should be the moments captured between people, not the special techniques or equipment used to capture those moments.

The picture above illustrates exactly what I mean. This is what you would have seen if you'd been standing in the room where I was standing. It looks real because its a genuine, unposed moment, photographed in a way that doesn't "shout" about the photographic process.