The first time you envisioned your wedding, you probably didn’t see a long list of details to attend to, decisions to be made or negotiations to be undertaken. Surely, your vision involved you and your partner. It was filled with tenderness, sweet melodies, pure bliss…and romance. After all, a wedding is romantic—the consummation of your everlasting love.
A skilled wedding photojournalist knows how to anticipate and capture situations that convey those special feelings. When the day is over, your memories will be enhanced through photographs of the two of you looking at one another or simply being together, thus narrating the story of your love. That is what it’s all about. We talked to three WPJA members to find out how they zero in on the romantic moments.
A glance, a quick kiss or a sigh shared between the betrothed amidst the whirlwind of activity and emotion on their wedding day are moments that tend to happen quickly. They’re intimate exchanges that represent the strong feelings the bride and groom have for one another. They can be gone in a flash (no pun intended). The guests may not notice them, but the perceptive wedding photojournalist does.
Your photographer’s portfolio should reflect his/her ability to anticipate and capture such moments. Illinois-based WPJA member Jonathan Kirshner says, “I’m always looking for that moment when the couple shares a kiss or when they have a tender exchange…I’m aware of the potential for it to happen at any second.”
His award-winning photograph of a bride hugging her groom in the elevator is one such moment. Kirshner says that they had just gotten married in the chapel and were on their way outside to meet the guests. The image captures the great relief and excitement that the couple feels. “It’s those little fleeting exchanges, like in the elevator, that really show what a couple is feeling on their wedding day,” Kirshner says, “That’s solely their moment.”
Or as Craig Wolfrom, based in Idaho, notes, capturing this fleeting moment “is really critical to relaying visually how special not just the moment, but also the entire day, can be.” He tries to think ahead about what the outcome might be or to position himself in a place where he can capture the emotion on the couple’s faces.
Those quiet moments when the bride and groom are alone together often convey the most romance. This is the case in Sweden-based Mark Earthy’s WPJA award-winning photograph. The bride and groom had just exited the church and had been congratulated by their friends and relatives. He describes the day as being really hot. The chauffeur lowered the windows and was opening a bottle of champagne. Mark slipped around to the other side of the car and took the photo through one of the open windows before the couple noticed him. He says, “It’s still one of my favorite pictures, a pure moment of contentment and happiness.”
In this picture, it’s clear that the couple is emotionally connected as they enjoy this private time together before the activity of the reception gets underway. Earthy notes, “To come away with a genuinely candid and romantic image of the bride and groom is hard, perhaps the hardest image to capture of the day.” In order to do so, he has become especially aware of these intimate moments by honing his observational skills, and observing from a distance with a long lens.
Oftentimes, it’s a matter of being in touch emotionally with the bride and groom. The skilled wedding photojournalist develops an ability to perceive what is happening between the two and focus in on it. Wolfrom confesses, “Capturing the emotion wasn’t something that came easy to me at first…But after years of experience, it’s much more natural. In every picture, I spend that extra second making sure that I’m capturing their story.” Clearly, the proof is in his award-winning photography.
Romantic moments can also spring from periods when you’re simply having fun. Wolfrom’s WPJA award-winning picture of a bride and groom seeing each other for the first time perfectly captures this theme. He explains that they had gotten ready inside the chapel, and when both were dressed, they walked backwards down the aisle until they were five feet apart. While this was happening, Wolfrom was jumping over pews to get to the perfect spot for the revealing. He says, “It was super emotional as they turned towards one another.”
Earthy notes that the bride and groom often can be inhibited or simply embarrassed by embracing or expressing feelings among their friends and family. Though he says, “Their eyes will be talking.” In such cases photographers want the couple to relax and have a little fun, but will not interfere. They will simply sit back and let events take their course. Having someone direct you as though you’re in a commercial can feel staged and will often produce stilted and awkward expressions.
A major obstacle to beautiful, emotionally resonant images is a stressed, over-scheduled bride or groom. Kirshner notes, “When they’re so involved in having the day coordinated, they can’t just take part in it as the wedding couple. They’re almost the wedding planner.” Subsequently, those romantic feelings might have a harder time of rising to the surface if you’re concerned with the flower arrangements. The key is to assign tasks to others so that your hands are free throughout the entire day. You can then focus on having a wonderful time.
Years from now when you look through your wedding pictures and you see those images of you and your sweetheart sharing moments of candid romance, you’ll be drawn back to that special day. The photographs, recording those feelings, may even become synonymous with your wedding and hopefully with your marriage as well.
—by Lauren Ragland for the Wedding Photojournalist Association