There are few things in life I treasure more than the photographs I have. Some are on the walls, some in albums and many hundred are in shoe boxes in the cupboard and each one has it’s own story. As I get a little older and maybe a little wiser, the value of these photographs to me has increased. These people, these moments in my life are priceless. And if we had to evacuate due to an alien invasion, they would be amongst the few things I would want to scoop up before fleeing to the safe zone, aside from the wife and kids.
With the technological revolution, wedding blogs, Pinterest and other social media distractions it’s easy to get wowed and sidetracked by photography that catches the eye and think that this is what photography is about. It’s all too easy to think that this kind of photography is what we need for ourselves.
You know the kind of stuff I mean, good-looking people having a picnic in the woods, a couple stood at the edge of a vast scene, that kind of thing. It’s great, but it really needs to be noted that much of it isn’t real. There are so many images from styled shoots flying around the internet that it’s easy for people to think that they are from real weddings with real people. The reality is that much of that kind of thing just can’t be recreated at a wedding.
Now I’m as guilty as the next person for wanting to make bigger and better pictures with a bit of a wow factor. However, I do it in real time at real weddings. I also realize that for most people, these aren’t the most important photos from the wedding, and they certainly won’t be the most important photos 10 or 20 years down the line. In fact, there are a whole bunch of trends in wedding photography at the moment. So not only will some images become unimportant to couples in the future, but they may be left scratching their heads as to why on earth they went for these images in the first place.
Empathy and Trust
It’s our own journey and emotional life history that makes us the people we are today. And it’s this nurturing of our own thoughts and feelings which can dictate how well or how poorly a photographer can relate to a couple and to the wedding as a whole. It’s this empathy which enables a good photographer to connect with the characters in the story and decide in a fraction of a second which image will be important to the couple and to their family and friends.
So in a room full of people, that connection with the scene will help the photographer decide which way to point the camera, who to focus on, which lens to use and what to include in the frame. The photographer has to anticipate and shoot through the moment to capture the height of emotion and freeze it for all time, to be remembered by parent’s grandparents and children for generations to come. To be in this position in the first place, however, the photographer must earn the trust and build a relationship with the people they are photographing.
Sometimes the importance of these images doesn’t really hit home until circumstances change and memories are all we have. Photographs have the power to help us remember a feeling, a smell, even the sound of a person, with every little detail, rekindling the spirit and soul of a time passed.
Whether it’s a smile on a child’s face, an elderly relative having a ball on the dance floor or a fleeting look or a wink between a couple in love. All of these things can be captured if a photographer has the ability to soak up the atmosphere, shoot in the moment, listen, feel and get wrapped up in the magic of the occasion.
About the author: Steven Rooney is a wedding photographer based in Southport, England. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Rooney’s work on his website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This article was also published here.