I am an amateur photographer at best, and have only spent my hobby taking family photos, stills and nature. At one time I really wanted to attempt a wedding, but the risk is very high - this is a couples most memorable life moment together and to have it properly documented is of the utmost importance; not something to just show up not knowing what you are doing; which is exactly what I did of course!
So calm down a little bit, I did not actually run the risk of ruining this wonderful couples special day, I am a family member and only shot this wedding as part of my hobby, they had a very capable photographer and videographer on retainer. But, at the same time, I kind of went in pretending that I was shooting it because I have agreed to do a friends wedding in the spring of 2020. I figured I had better start some kind of preparation.
First thing first; find professional photographer(s) that I liked and study their work. I dove in and surfed the net for examples of weddings and fell in love with the journalistic style, particularly black and white. There is something about this method and look that, for me, has so much more feeling and emotion in the finished product.
In the photo above I really think I was a particular annoyance to the paid photographer on site as I ran up and crouched on the floor directly in front of them. This was something I had to do since I prefer using prime lenses which dictate physically moving for zooming in and out. Crouching in front here helped, I believe, because the wonderful light fixture just above and to the left is accentuated more with my lower position.
Waiting for the right moment and watching those that are not actually the prime subjects seems to be of utmost importance. Above, as the vows were being recited, I noticed the older of the two flower girls starting to cry a little bit. This be a wonderful moment that the couple can enjoy later through these captured slices of life.
And how lucky was I that crying is contagious and the younger one became wrapped up in the emotion as well - sit, wait and watch seems to be the rule here.
The Journalistic Approach
The journalistic style, for me, seems to feel much more natural than arranging groups or individuals into the "standard photo" arrangement. As an example below, the family group is actively working with the photographer for this shot, which I am sure will be fantastic. But, I have to say that there is something about my perspective here with the bystanders waiting and watching that seems special. I could be wrong of course, but there seem to be so many angles in our lives that are also memorable.
Trying Different Perspectives
Trying out different perspectives is also important. Many end up being kind of corny sometimes, but experimentation can pay off. I decided to go up and kneel behind the wedding party's dinner table and shoot through the floral decorations. I can't explain the feeling I get looking at this picture, but I like it for some reason. Everything shouldn't need an explanation I guess, it either looks good or it doesn't - and that always falls to the individual viewer which is far from being within my control.
Include Images of the Venue as Well
I learned much during the night. I found out that I need to really develop my ability, and camera settings, to accurately focus on the right spot quickly. I learned that using only ambient lighting means you have to really pay attention about where the light is coming from and how it works for you or against you. But, even with my short comings I managed to shoot 400 photos, a tiny amount compared to a professional I know, and still ended up with 105 that were acceptable keepers. I feel like that was a success.
I should note for those interested: I shot all of these examples on a Fujifilm X-T3 through a 23mm F2 and all are out of camera JPEG (Edit: Just realized exif data is available after publishing). I used to shoot in raw for much of my hobby and found I spent more of my time in processing the images afterwards, which is not at all what I enjoy. These JPEGS were minimally adjusted and slightly cropped. Also, I completely see details in the pics that are not perfect from a pixel peeping standpoint as well as compositional, though for me it is so much more about the emotion and how those who were involved respond to them. These are memories not advertisements or billboard displays, so it all works for me - and I have a day job already lol.
I plan to spend more time trying to compose better and get the best in camera image that I can. I should add that perfecting that goal, in itself, is a gigantic endeavor!
And one last note; this was also my very first blog or social post of any kind.