While you may have picked out a beautiful, rustic church, a serene outdoor setting and a posh reception hall as ideal backdrops to your wedding photographs, the shots don't stop there. Remember: The wedding photojournalist's mission is to document the entire day.
And one of the often overlooked, and maybe under-appreciated settings for photos during your wedding day occurs while the bride, groom and other members of the wedding party are in a car, limo, party bus or other form of transportation.
These photo-ops on wheels give the wedding party a chance to get away from the hullabaloo of the festivities, if only for the ride between shooting locations. Such isolation often offers poignant and reflective scenes to capture.
Cars may also provide a panoply of striking lines to frame the pictures, as well as interesting mirrors and the mix of indoor and outdoor lighting that all lend to artistic and creative shots. Plus, whether you're riding on a horse-drawn carriage, a trolley, a stretch limo, or a Rolls Royce--for likely one of the few times in your life--you might as well get some lasting mementos.
Once the ride pulls away, the wedding couple can become more at ease, making it a great time to capture some moments when the two let their guard down, says Della Chen, a WPJA award winner.
“The bride and groom are kind of in their own little cocoon because they're in their car and in their own little world for a minute,” says Chen.
The Washington, USA-based photographer found a particularly personal moment while riding in the back seat of a car with the newlywed couple up front. The groom had borrowed his father's convertible to take his new bride to a beach on Whidbey Island for a quick photo shoot during the wedding day. While en route, Chen noticed the groom was well aware of his new status.
“He was constantly playing with his ring and it was obvious he was very aware of it being on the finger,” Chen says. “And I just knew it was going to be a great shot.”
And it’s not just the bride and groom that get to have that isolated time in the car. Often, the bride rides to the ceremony with her father; one of the few final moments the two will have together before she marries.
Means of wedding-day transportation also are a good place to capture members of the wedding party together as they’re toasting, interacting and partying on the way to their destination, shutting out the larger wedding from the world inside the vehicle.
“This is one of those few moments when they are alone together or with the closest people,” says Florent Vidal, a WPJA member from Australia. “They can let their guards down and all unexpected emotions can come up.”
Car interiors have a bevy of hard lines from seats, dashboard, windows and the actual car body that can be used to frame the shots during photos, making for great pictures. The fun in the car doesn’t stop there, as reflections from rear-view mirrors, gleans of headlights at night, and views of the open road are just some of the other features a photographer can take advantage of when shooting in a car.
Chen's photo of the groom fiddling with his wedding ring took advantage of the rear-view mirror and the open road, as the photo shows just the reflection of the groom’s eyes staring down at his ring. Meanwhile, the winding, empty road before them lends the photo an added surreal quality. Chen was able to take that hands-off photo because she was in the back seat; however, getting someone’s reflection in the rear-view mirror can be a bit more challenging given that the reflection is not always lined up from the photographer’s position.
There are certainly plenty of ways for the photographer to experiment while in the car.
While some might see the ride as merely a way to get people from point A to B during weddings, they are usually part of two significant moments of the wedding day, where emotions are only heightened because they occur in an isolated space. Those include the bride on the way to the ceremony, and the couple alone in the vehicle afterwards, in their first private moments away from everyone.
“I honestly believe that after all the preparation for the past months, this is the moment where reality sets in for the bride,” Vidal says. “She is on her way to marry the man she loves.”
Vidal caught that moment while riding in the car with the bride and her two sisters, and the three all burst into tears. “They were so emotive, excited and stressed about the big event,” he recalls. “Suddenly, they all started crying at the same time. I think that being inside a car, helped them a lot to forget about me and just be themselves.”
After the ceremony is also a popular time for the bride and groom to skip off with their wedding photographer to a scenic location. That can also be a good time to catch the bride and groom experiencing new emotions as they digest their new status.
As the documentarian for the day, wedding photojournalists like to spend as much time as possible with the bride and groom. Riding with them allows key time with the main figures of the day, instead of driving between venues separately, wasting valuable time that could be used to keep taking pictures.
“I try to be with the bride and groom as much as I can, including them getting ready and while they're going in between locations,” says Chen. “As a documentary photographer, I'm trying to tell the story and I want to be where they are.”
That means it is worthwhile for you to help get your photographer’s car to the next venue if he or she is shooting alone. Photographers' cars serve as their mobile headquarters--most everything they will need for the wedding is in there, including back-up gear--thus, they may not be comfortable with being away from their cars for large periods of time. Consider asking a family friend (not someone from the bridal party) to get the car to the reception site while your photographer rides with you.
As stated above, the ride can provide additional time to experiment with creative techniques in the vehicle.
—by Paul Ziobro for the Wedding Photojournalist Association