A particular inquiry has left me thinking tonight a lot about how we see and photograph a wedding day. When we photograph a wedding we capture the emotion from the day.
The first time Dad sees his daughter in her wedding dress, for example, many photographers concentrate on the bride’s descent of the stairs but not many notices the tears welling in Dad’s eyes. We do. We notice both – it’s one of the advantages of having two photographers.
We see and photograph different things. We see the excitement in the bridesmaids as they see the bride in her dress too and mum – we notice the pride as she looks in awe at how beautiful her daughter looks today. But the bride – what does the bride see as she looks in the mirror and checks her appearance for one last time? We capture that too. That last look, checking everything is just perfect and she looks the very best she could do for this most amazing of days ahead of her. The nerves perhaps beginning to kick in as the anticipation of seeing her groom begins to build. The reassurance she is seeking as she asks the question: “Do I look alright?” To the skilled photographer and photojournalist, all this is vitally important to capture – to thrill the couple and family when they see their photographs for the first time with the little moments, tears, joy, laughter we have captured on camera.
So what if the bride is unable to see what she looks like? What her parents and bridesmaids look like, what her groom looks like – waiting for her at the end of the aisle? How do we “see” and capture on camera what the bride “sees”? What if the groom can’t see what his approaching bride looks like, what the ceremony room looks like, the look of pride and love on his parents and families’ faces as they watch him make the greatest commitment of his life? How do we capture and portray on camera what the groom “sees”?
How do we bring to life the emotion and feelings of the day which is always so present in the eyes? I thought about the way I would see my family and friends if I was visually impaired. My feel, hearing, smell and touch would become my eyes. I would be so familiar with the features and beauty of that person I was about to marry that I would need no first glance to reassure me. If I were the groom, I would know her perfume wafting as she approached, the swish of her dress, those familiar steps and instinctively know that she was near. I would be able to sense that feeling of anticipation and excitement as the moment approached that we stood side by side taking our vows.
If I were the bride, my fingers would intertwine with his as we stood together and we would perhaps squeeze each others hands – something only the two of us would know – to tell each other that we loved them. I would almost certainly feel my husbands face and features, wondering if perhaps those unseeing eyes were shedding a tear. Mine would be a very special marriage full of private moments between two people. So how as photographers do we translate this into the photographs? We have an inherent need to “wow” all our clients for their wedding photography.
It drives us on at each wedding to try to surpass all their expectations and more. But how do we “wow” someone who can’t see the photos? The answer to this has got to be by the reaction of their family and friends when they see the photographs for the first time.
So if we can capture a touch, a glance in what is known to be the right direction, perhaps a tear, the laughter but most of all the connection between these two people who are so clearly so much in love and if at some stage during the day we have the opportunity to describe to the bride and groom how each other looks to us, in the colours and particular way we see the world then maybe, just maybe we will be able to make a huge difference to that wedding day and help to make it as special to the two people getting married as they are to each other.
If we can translate into our photography that special connection that is present not only between the bride and groom but also their respective families and friends, then and only then will we have done our job well and our photography will prove to be not expensive but priceless.