A look back at 2018 – reportage wedding photography
2018 – a look back at the year. Weddings that began in March and ended in early December, no New Year’s Eve wedding, like last year. Wedding days that saw snow on the ground, that saw it rain all day and some of the hottest UK wedding days in many years. Weddings in barns, churches, castles, hotels, private homes, stately homes, in open fields and on lawns. Just over 60% were in Sussex – I am a Sussex wedding photographer after all – then, this year, also in London, Surrey, Kent, Shropshire, Wales, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Leicestershire, Hampshire and Denmark!
Couples who found me through Google, instagram and the weddings of their friends. Couples who wanted natural reportage wedding photography. Most had no group shots, some just a couple. Some wanted no portraits, others took advantage of the evening sunset. The key was they wanted to just enjoy their day and let me capture it, my way – reportage wedding photography. Weddings that ranged from just 3 hours coverage to 15 hours coverage.
So, this year, rather than a flashy slideshow – let’s break the wedding day down, into sections. Weddings are individual sure (and no, it’s not about copying stuff from Pinterest) but there are still basic sections to most days. A basic structure. Some weddings this year skipped the dancing, any portraits, even kept the speeches very brief. But each can be broken down into sections, with moments to capture within them. These all build up into a narrative of the day. So, from each part of the day, some favourite images from 2018, that I think show how I photograph a wedding day…
Most coverage begins with the bridal prep – the getting ready. Hair, makeup, etc. Although not all brides want this part of the day covered. I was sent to the groom for one this year, as he got ready with his friends. A quick ‘hello’ then quietly document them getting ready, in the hotel room. That was until the videographer arrived, got them to put on their cufflinks and their waistcoats again – told them where to stand – got them to walk up and down the corridor for her camera. Reportage this is not! Why do they do this? (Clue – the best don’t!)
But preps, for the photographer, can be a nice chance to capture images amidst the chaos… it’s a warm up to the rest of the coverage…
Getting to the ceremony – the groom, the bride, the wedding guests. That bit before the ceremony starts. For one wedding in the summer, when the heavens decided to open, with one hell of a downpour. (see the first photo) Whether it was the bride walking across to an open air ceremony, arriving in the wedding car (one having run a red light…) or waiting with her father for the signal to enter the church…
The wedding ceremony
Main part of the day – the wedding ceremony. Sometimes, in this country, when there are the most restrictions on the photography too… But I was mostly lucky with vicars, etc this year. Some were very obliging – it makes a big difference to the coverage.
Ceremony done, back down the aisle and confetti (most of the time). Off to the drinks!
The wedding reception
Where the bulk of the wedding images come from? Drinks on the lawn, in the bar, sheltering from the rain, the sun even. Even in Routemaster buses, getting to the reception in London. No posed up ‘Hello magazine’ style images but candid glimpses of the guests and couples enjoying themselves. Images that not only capture people but evoke the atmosphere of the day, the venue.
The non-documentary part of the day – if people want them. But still the aim is for something natural – find good light and use it, rather than the traditional ‘dress fanned out on the lawn’ type of wedding photography. In 2018, we got a few days with seriously great evening light… this first one, we got it with seconds to spare, after the best man’s speech ‘went on a bit’…
Key part of most wedding days. Also where the timing tends to go astray. People will swear blind that their 25 minute speech is only going to be 5 minutes… But it’s an interesting time for images usually – all about the reactions, the expressions. Key part of the narrative.
Dancing in the evening
The first dance shuffle. Rarely the key image of a couple – that usually comes once everyone has piled onto the dance floor and the couple can relax. To get these means a few bruises from flailing arms, as you get in close, but it can be worth it. But this first one (after getting the DJ to switch on his smoke machine), this is what you want from a first dance! No need for me to setup any flash units – the lighting was there. Spot the one shot outside, just before midnight, lit only by the guests holding sparklers…that was a test…
So that was 2018. A year of weddings that started in March at a local venue, Gate Street Barn. The wedding of Lara & Alex. Congratulations to them, as little Finbar arrived later in the year!
These are just a few of the images shot, a few favourites ( I had to leave many out) that hopefully shows how I approach and photograph a wedding day. Have a look through my blog posts to see more.
Planning a wedding in 2019? If this reportage approach to wedding photography appeals, please do get in touch!
Last nerdy bit: Almost 150 images here, all shot on Sony A9 cameras. Six lenses used, of which well over a third of these favourite images are from just one lens, the sublime Zeiss 25mm F2 Batis lens. This beauty below… a wideangle lens, in close. Seems to be the bedrock of my style. It was the 28mm in 2015!
The other lenses? 18, 35, 55, 85 and 135.