The Documenting Eye - part 1 of 1 2 3

by Kevin Mullins Published 01/11/2011


Wedding photojournalism, or documentary wedding photography or reportage wedding photography (whatever is the 'en vogue' saying in the bridal magazines at the time) is a style of photography that, in essence, tells the real story of the wedding day without any intervening, prompting, posing or directing from the photographer. In my mind, the art of this discipline is in seeing the moment.

My story started many years ago when I would attend friends' weddings as a guest, and take my old Canon EOS film camera with me. I'd snap away during the day wherever I could - always looking for interesting moments and candid scenes. Every time I gave my images to them they seemed to love them more than the standard posed images that they got from their professional photographer.

Of course, they probably didn't have the likes of Barrie and Bev Downie, Crash Taylor or Dave Nunn shooting their wedding. I fully appreciate other forms of wedding photography and if a bride comes to me seeking a more artistic or editorial wedding day shoot then I gladly point them in the direction of the very talented photographers who offer this kind of work. I was delighted to get my LSWPP at last year's Convention based on a purely documentary wedding panel. Although I also have a studio, my work at weddings will always be purely documentary. I don't feel comfortable directing the wedding day, and the clients who choose me, generally do so because they prefer to simply let the day unfold with a visual documentary of the actual events that occurred.

I try to keep as close to the action as possible and often use just two lenses throughout the day. At the moment I am shooting most weddings using a 35mm lens on a Canon 1D Mark IV and an 85mm lens on a Canon 5D Mark II.

I approach every wedding as a blank canvas and for me, the best images from the day really connect with the clients and show context to the event. The image (top) was shot very recently and is one of my favourite images of 2011 so far.

To me, the image is priceless. It's not technically correct by any stretch of the imagination - but the bride loved this image and it's her favourite from the day. In order to get the image, I had to get into the right place, at the right time of course. There is an element of luck, granted, but I shot a few frames from this position and it was only by carefully observing the scene unfolding could I choose to wait until the perfect moment occurred.

I could see the grandmother of the bride approaching the car in the reflection and I could see the bride had waved at her. I knew then, that the likelihood was that the grandmother would wave back. Which she did.

The image really came together because at the same time the bride and groom tenderly touched hands, the father of the bride stepped into the scene and you can also see one of the bridesmaids, one of the ushers and the grandfather all reflected in the windows of the bridal car.

Images that really touch the couples, and capture the essence of the day are what I am after.

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1st Published 01/11/2011
last update 07/04/2022 09:09:54

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