In 2018 I became a member of ‘This is Reportage’, a fantastic website that showcases the very best in documentary wedding photography. All the wedding photographs showcased on This is Reportage are unstaged and unposed, just pure genuine moments – which really resonated with me as that’s predominantly how I approach my own wedding photography.
As much as I enjoy creating a beautiful portrait, I have a real love of documentary wedding photography. There’s nothing that beats capturing the reaction on a loved ones face when the emotion of the day hits them or when the best man accidentally smashes his glass as he announces the call for dinner (this recently happened!).
I love that each wedding has it’s own unscripted and unexpected moments, things that each couple can look back on for years and years to come and chuckle away at or shed a tear or two about. Moments really do matter most and weddings just have so many opportunities for these moments to happen. To pre-empt them and document them creatively is something that I’m constantly striving to do at each and every wedding I shoot. I just know these are likely to be the shots my couples will cherish for many years, so I feel it’s important to try to do each and every moment justice.
I didn’t join This is Reportage to enter awards. In fact, I’ll let you in on a secret… I actually hate entering awards!!! But it’s great just to be part of a group of photographers who have a similar mindset and to be able to draw from their experiences and knowledge and collectively push each other forward with the aim of produce even better images. If you’re a wedding photographer, consider joining! With so many photographers I admire and look up to as members, I was blown away (and very surprised!) at the end of 2018 when This is Reportage emailed me the badge you see above saying that I was among the top 30 This is Reportage photographers in the world! Insane!
So I thought I’d feature four of my photos that won awards in 2018 and explain a little bit about them.
Champer in Campers…
I’ll start with a shot that still makes me chuckle when I see it – this champagne pouring moment from Louise and Nathan’s wedding in Chester.
Louise and Nathan got married at Chester Town Hall. It was a hot summers day and after the ceremony, two camper vans were outside waiting to take the bridal party to the reception venue. It’s pretty standard to enjoy a glass of something en-route to your reception, so Nathan popped open the Prosecco and poured Louise a glass. Meanwhile, inside the camper van things are getting pretty unbearable with everyone struggling in the heat and just wanting to cool down.
I spotted Louise’s bridesmaid through the window of the van, clearly gagging for a drink and making a bit of a joke of it to Louise. At this point, I moved to the side to include the bridesmaid in the shot with Nathan pouring the next glass of Prosecco in the foreground. The next thing I know, hey presto, Louise’s hand comes into the frame to make the moment!
A nice little bonus was I caught Nathan smirking in the reflection too, which I’ll be honest, with things happening so fast was purely a nice bit of luck. It’s a good example of a little ‘in-between’ moment – totally unplanned and unique to Louise and Nathan’s wedding!
Father & Daughter Dance
The next award was for this evening shot of Louise and her dad dancing. I’ll quickly throw in that it’s a totally different Louise to the shot above …and a different wedding! This father/daughter dance was in the running order and so I knew it would be an important moment for Louise and her dad to share.
Whenever I’m shooting something like this, I always try to keep an eye on whoever else may be affected by the moment as there’s often another part of the story to tell. In this case, it was Louise’s sister and close friends who I spotted were getting a bit teary as they watched on. They stood there with arms around each other and I just knew a lovely tender moment was about to happen. Having everyone who you love most in the world all together in one place for one day will always be one of the best and most special things about your wedding.
Mine, mine, mine!
Quite a few photographers said it was brave of me to risk photographing the bouquet toss in this way, but I’ll be open about it – I’d already got a ‘safe’ shot from the side. I guess I was lucky in that the first throw totally missed all of the bridesmaids by miles (strong throw Maria!!) so I got the chance to shoot it again from a different angle.
I love to try and create unique photos for my couples whenever possible and I noticed that the sun was fairly strong and casting shadows on the wall so there’d be a good chance I could create an interesting photo out of it. What those other photographers had said to me was true, there was a lot that could have gone wrong. The sun was going behind the clouds constantly, the bouquet might have fallen in the wrong spot again but this time everything worked out and I’m chuffed this image picked up an award for Steve and Maria.
I’m normally very focussed on people and emotion so it’s unusual for me not to show faces in a photograph, but as soon as the bouquet was caught I turned around to capture the reactions of the group and the excited expressions of the lucky girl who caught it! Such a fun wedding with a great bunch of people!
Having lost a few family members since our own wedding (twelve years ago now!!), the importance of taking lovely photos of all my couples nearest and dearest is super important to me. When I look at this shot, it reminds me of my own nan. I never had any other grandparents other than her and it reminds me of the special bond we had. So when Rebecca’s nan came up to her and gave her this huge teary hug after the ceremony I knew I had to get a good shot of it.
At the time, there was a lot going on. We were outside the church and there were people everywhere so it was pretty chaotic. I think Rebecca’s nan was one of the last out of the church and this moment happened in the doorway. I’m always trying to remove unnecessary distractions from my photos and by moving around to have the dark interior of the church as the background, I knew I’d able to isolate the moment from the surrounding chaos and give it the space it deserved. I’m dead chuffed that I managed to grab this photo for Rebecca. It’s definitely the kind of photo I would want from my own wedding and I hope it reminds her of how it felt to be hugged by her nan at that moment.
So there you have it, a few little insights behind those four wedding moments! It’s lovely that these photos won awards and I’m super happy for each couple that they did, but mostly I just hope that they remind each couple of how it felt to be in each moment and to be surrounded by the people they love most on one of the best days of their lives.
Lastly, huge thanks to This is Reportage. I’m ecstatic to be counted among such a collection of talented documentary photographers and I’m constantly blown away by the standard of work featured! It’s very inspiring!
As I said before, having everyone who you love most in the world all together in one place for one day will always be one of the best and most special things about your wedding. I would love to be there to document it for you. If you are getting married and the idea of having real, un-posed wedding photos with meaning appeals to you, then I’d love to hear from you! Drop me an enquiry and let’s get things started!