My style of wedding photography relies entirely on capturing the things that happen, without arranging or interfering. This leaves me at the mercy of "real life" - if it doesn't happen then I can't photograph it. So its really satisfying when a picture like this just presents itself fully formed. This is the groom with his best man and ushers, perfectly arranged in the front door of the church as they welcome the guests. All I had to do was see it and position myself to make sure I could see everyone, then wait for a good set of smiley faces!
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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.