The importance of documenting, not dictating

By Colin D Miller
cdmiller.photography

Call it reportage, call it photo-journalism – essentially it’s story telling.

I’ve always felt that photography is the purist form of story telling and as a wedding photographer, my job is to tell the story of the couples day.

We’ve all been guests at weddings and have experienced those weddings where the photographer spends a good two hours doing photo shoots with the couple, their family, their extended family and their friends.

Now let’s be honest, nobody is having much fun here.

Sure everyone may be smiling for the camera, but after a while beneath those smiles, the couple are eager to mingle with their guests and their guests are eager to drink, eat and have fun. And speaking perfectly bluntly as a photographer with experience (one who once photographed a wedding where the couple had insisted on 50 separate group shots), I’m not having that much fun either.

I’d much rather be spending my time capturing the proceedings of the day, the natural moments and the memories as they unfold – moments and memories that won’t be made while organising a group shot of the second cousins, only to realise Uncle Ralph has disappeared for a piddle/cheeky pint.

Of course, some photographers and (more importantly) couples want exactly that, and that of course is absolutely fine. I’m not saying it isn’t for a second. While I’m not one to completely rule out the group shots altogether, I feel it is usually worth limiting them to a maximum of 5-10. Anymore than that, and a wedding day runs the danger of turning into a full-on photoshoot.

I personally like to use my photographic skills to document the story of the couples big day, I don’t want to be the guy dictating it. I want to be the guy who disappears into the background, capturing the day as it flows by.

There are so many things happening at weddings, that it is impossible not to capture something of worth. Guests interacting with each other, those knowing looks that the couple give each other, emotive glances from family members, people laughing, crying even – it’s all happening and unless somebody captures it on camera, these moments are lost.

I find it is best to blend in as much as I can (like some sort of photographic-ninja), that way I can photograph a wedding and then later curate the very best images, so that the couple have a captivating, honest and observational record of their day.

Having a selection of images that tell the story of a wedding also makes a much more compelling album. With images from the bridal prep, right up until the first dance, a full portfolio that covers the whole day can provide a couple with a first hand document of their wedding for generations to come.

Colin D Miller is a photographer based in south London and can be followed on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. For more information about his work feel free to visit his website.