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cawdor hotel

My Favourite Table Plan Picture - Documentary Wedding Photography at The Cawdor, Llandeilo

Documentary wedding photography at The Cawdor, Llandeilo

I usually try to take a picture of the table plan. Lots of couples put a lot of thought and effort into the table plan, so its worth trying to make a good picture out of it. This is by far my favourite table plan picture so far.

I was struggling to get a shot of guests looking at it and then I noticed the reflection might work. I photographed a couple of different guests and then this lady took up exactly the right position. The position of her head in the empty space, combined with the light jacket and blonde hair has made her stand out nicely in the reflection.

Its another example of putting the details of the wedding in context.

What is "Unobtrusive"?

Wedding Photojournalism, The Cawdor Hotel, Llandeilo

There has been a lot written about the subject of being "unobtrusive" when photographing weddings, both by myself and many other photographers who consider themselves to be "documentary photographers" or "wedding photojournalists". However, a lot of these photographers miss the point. Its not about going unnoticed, lurking in the shadows, skulking around and trying to snatch pictures without being seen, or using telephoto lenses to pick off people from a distance. Its about blending in, becoming a part of the day and building up a rapport with your subjects. This allows you to get close and get more intimate, dynamic and interesting photographs.

This picture is a great illustration of that. There are three people and myself in a hotel bathroom - me with quite big, obvious, professional cameras. But there is no sign of my influence in this picture - everyone is acting naturally and getting on with their own thing. I can't just turn up and shoot pictures like this straight away. I'd already been there for a good hour or more, chatting with the bride and bridesmaids, taking pictures and letting everyone get used to me being there. So when it came time for me to follow them into the bathroom it wasn't awkward or weird, it was just natural that there were pictures to be taken and that I was there to take them. Obviously if there had been any indication from any of them that they didn't want me there, then I would have left. But it was just accepted that I was in there doing what I was being paid to do - document Tara's wedding day with the best pictures possible.

Knowing when to shoot and when to hold off is a vital skill that only comes with experience. You have to be able to read the situation and act appropriately. And that's not something you can learn from a book or a workshop or an internet video. Its something that comes gradually - the more you shoot, the better you get.