A word or two about wedding portraits | 31 Days in May #30

“We wondered if you photograph portraits too?” It’s a subject I touched upon at the start of this month’s series of ‘picture a day’ postings, though that was a piece focusing primarily on the topic of family group portraits. Yes is the answer, yes to both. I may not highlight that within the portfolio pages of this website, but that’s always been because I’m keen to draw couples who’d chiefly like me to photograph their wedding from a documentary or reportage slant. But on the subject of bride and groom portraits, I like to ‘borrow’ a couple for up to fifteen minutes, sometimes a little more as requested, or if scenic logistics dictate – but generally that’s the guide timing in my head. And I use the word ‘borrow’ after much thought on this subject. Too often I hear the afternoon drinks reception, or cocktail hour, referred to as, ‘the photographs.’ It’s as if the guests don’t exist. That they should wait until I have taken them away for an hour, returning only when the chef is chasing me meat cleaver in hand because the soufflé starter has both risen and fallen. It’s an historical reference to a time when format dictated a photographer run through his or her inventory of poses to produce a staple diet of pictures where the men threw their top hats in the air and/or the bride was held aloft by the ushers and best man. For instance, my own late parents’ album features a full page black and white, where my mother is sat on the grass at the reception with her dress organised in a fine circle around her; classic 60s. I call it the ‘bride fallen down a hole’ shot, as it looks like my dear mum was waltzing across a park and fell through a cracked man hole cover. For the sake of balance though, there are photographers who are simply sublime when it comes to delicately posed wedding portraiture and many couples who demand that service as large portion of their day. I’m not proposing that there is a right way and wrong way. Personally I like a few portraits. There’s a legacy to some photographs that display the fashion of a day even if that does creep into a contrived arena for a few short moments. Equally though, I prefer to practise a more relaxed approach, a light touch, a walk and talk, a time where a couple have time to reflect upon the enormity of what’s just happened.

Colour picture of couple on their wedding day

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