The gravitational pull of wedding photography has been unusually unrelenting towards me lately, with several episodes of actual day weddings to cover, mostly involving friends’ friends, or people connected to people that I do know. I chose to see them as an opportunity to dip my feet and perhaps get myself wet in the strange world of wedding photography. Although I come from quite a large family with thousands of uncles, aunties,
I can do as much research as I can considering a lot of photographers publish their works online, and to certain extent, you can even find tips and tutorials for wedding photography anywhere. I can browse through as many sample photos as I need, and prepare myself as thoroughly as I wanted to, but at the end of the day the real challenge happened on the actual big day itself. There was not so much of being nervous, or feeling stressed out, but what troubled me most of the time was the inability to perceive what I want as an end result.
To me, visualisation is extremely important, and I set what I want to accomplish in my photography works right from the beginning, a concept some would say, and then did what I can with my camera and knowledge to make the concept work. There was a clear goal to work towards the direction. This is a controlled form of photography, and photographer has almost absolute control of the circumstances.
There is another form of photography that does not adhere to the visualization and preconceptions as mentioned before. Take photo-journalistic style for an example. The best shots happen at most unexpected and random times, and the photographers would have to be there, ever ready to pounce on each and every opportunity that sprouted in front of them. Clicking the shutter at even a split second too late will render the shots useless. On this side of the coin, all prior preparations and pre-conceptions will actually not work. The photographer’s instinct and quick reflexes to respond to the situation as it changes and reshapes itself are vital to ensure that the moments were captured. This is what some would call, sniping.
Now, you see, the problem about wedding photography is the fusion of both the ability to 1) visualize and plan the desired outcome in an overall concept beforehand, and 2) execute those pre-planned and visualized concepts in such a photo-journalistic manner. The fusion of both styles is not an easy thing for me, since I was much, much better versed with the earlier version. You have to have some ideas in your mind on how your photos are going to look like, but at the same time, you have to be extremely quick in reflexes to capture that exploding laughter that tells the best of stories, the hug that expresses deep connections, and the kiss that derives fired up passions between lovers. Not one second too soon, or one second too late can be tolerated, the impact on the photo outcome would be drastic.
Being fully alert at all times, knowing well and predicting what will happen can save lives here, but what truly challenged me was the shots that just happened so suddenly that there is no time to do any other adjustments, but to immediately point my lens on the moment, and rapidly click that shutter. It is either, you get it, or you miss it. Sometimes, you have the wrong lens on the camera, or the battery on the flash is still charging, or the metering option was not right. Anything could go wrong anywhere and anytime. Much training I am needed in terms of spontaneity and being responsive to adapt to the flow of events. I realized that I have become too tied up with what I wanted to have in my photos, that I actually have missed out on many other great shots that I could have had if I was quick enough to respond. This is my main struggle now. I will be faster, just watch me.
The best of wedding photographs I have seen follow a certain pattern: they all convey messages of happiness very, very vividly, and you can connect to what you see in the photographs. Even if it is just a plain headshot of the bride, but if the smile was warm enough, it could just light up the whole room. It is so easy to distinguish the good photographs from the bad ones, and tell what is good in the photographs, and what does not work. When it actually comes to myself being in the field and view the scene through the viewfinder, it was not as simple as saying “oh that framing does not work”, or “hey lets just follow rule of thirds” or “lets try this effect it may work !!”. I can tell if the photographs are good, and I can also tell that what I have achieved so far, are nothing to shout about.
Fistan would say, not enough bokeh, and get a Full Frame. Jasonmumbles would say, stop thinking and stressing out so much. LKM would say, F2 lenses FTW !!! But I say to all of you, give me time, and you will see what I will be able to do. Just give me time. All I really needed are tonnes of patience, and determination.