Quiet moments: the key to reportage wedding photography
Every wedding day has its own rhythm. There are moments of frantic activity, such as the confetti run or the dancing, and there are moments of calm. My aim as a reportage wedding photographer is to capture all the nuances of that rhythm. There should be a variety in the images captured: moments that the wedding couple will certainly remember happening, but also what I call the quiet moments.
Often these are overlooked. Not loud or extrovert or in-your-face, but the introvert images – the gentler moments captured. Not images that shout about the ‘cleverness’ of the photographer, but those that capture an authentic moment outside the expected parts of the day. They are not just ‘fillers’ in between the set-piece events. They are critical to telling the full story of a wedding.
And I actually think that these images can become more significant as the years go by. The image above is from a wedding at Farnham Castle. The bride’s sister is briefly resting her head on her sibling’s shoulder as they chat between getting into their dresses and heading down to the wedding ceremony. It’s a quiet moment of a connection between them, on such a significant day. I would hope that it will be an image that will make them smile many years from now. It speaks louder of their relationship at this particular point in their lives than any posed portrait could do.
Making time to capture these moments
One of the biggest obstacles to capturing the significant quiet moments is time. At some weddings, you feel like you are just racing around trying to keep up, especially if ceremonies are delayed and the drinks reception is then cut short. As a photographer, you need to capture enough images within the time you have. The expectation of receiving a specific number of photos has grown among couples in recent years, as photographers use the promise of hundreds of images as a marketing ploy. But in reality, a couple is far more likely to rave about their photos if the emphasis is on quality, not quantity. Time is precious to a reportage photographer. The weddings that get the best coverage are the ones that allow us to seek out and capture unique moments, rather than trying to get a picture of every guest or be tied up photographing endless group shots.
Below are some quiet moments captured at recent weddings. They are central to how I document a wedding day.
Getting ready images
The getting ready part of the day can be chaos, but it can also throw up some wonderful quiet moments.
A moment, a touch, between father and daughter on the wedding morning, as they have a brief chat in the kitchen
A bride helping her sister with her dress
The bride’s father, quietly waiting to escort his daughter to the wedding ceremony
A bride in her front room, dressed and ready, waiting for the wedding taxi
A quiet moment of reflection for the bride, after everyone has left the room
A mother and daughter laughing during a reassuring chat. Everyone else had left the room, I didn’t want to disturb them, so shot a picture of the room, capturing them reflected in the mirror. There is a stillness to the image that I think captures the intimacy of the moment. I know that the bride loved this image.
The ceremony and beyond
Quiet moments happen throughout the wedding day. Sometimes you are capturing a pause. Sometimes the sense of quiet comes from how you capture the scene. Take this image, for example, shot at a wedding ceremony in the Great Room at the RSA in London. The venue wanted to close the big doors, but I wanted a ‘quiet’ image by stepping back, framing the ceremony with the doorway and giving some context by showing the amazing old building in which it was taking place.
Then there is the brief moment for a couple alone, after the wedding ceremony and before family and friends come rushing up to them. Step back and capture the scene.
Sometimes it’s about the contrast with a more busy moment, like the hug between these two grooms just after their wedding ceremony at Cissbury Barns. I love the contrast with the confetti run a few moments later.
The moment may come from someone taking ‘time out’ from the day.
A best man rehearsing his speech in the back of the pub
A wedding guest reviewing his images on his camera, in a quiet corridor
A guest having quiet thoughts
Moments between people
Throughout the wedding day, there are quiet moments between people that need capturing. Not just the big hugs after the ceremony, but the little looks, touches and gestures that speak volumes about people’s relationships.
The bride and her friend, just before they enter the church
The bride’s mother, just before the wedding ceremony
A bride and her father at a wedding reception in a London pub
Wedding guests going for a stroll, in that time between the meal and the dancing
Kids at weddings
Children at weddings create pictures – often in subtle fleeting moments.
Losing a shoe
Bored of listening to the speeches
Trying to see the bride, as she is interviewed by the registrar
A quick glance
Watching the musicians
The quiet moments, the fleeting moments, are easily missed. But they are significant. For me, they are what makes reportage wedding photography interesting.