Candid Wedding Photography, How I Work, Wedding

Sequences – Dad’s First Look

What makes a Patrick Pope Photography wedding story different than the way other photographers capture the day? The short answer is, among other differences, I tend to think in sequences of photos which build the scene and story while most photographers are seeking one single image that defines a scene all within a single frame. The majority of still photographers seem to have forgotten that a single frame can’t always tell a complete story.

There are plenty of moments that are completely self contained and I love capturing that one split second where everything comes together. But just as often, the story actually takes place over several moments.

Telling a story through a sequence is a far more challenging kind of wedding photography. From a technical point of view, I have to think in terms of a series of images that sets up the scene, establish the characters, presents the action, offers a reaction, and finally offers a conclusion. AT THE SAME TIME, I have to compose each and every image in the sequence carefully to create something that can stand on its own.

This is about as far from random snapshot photography as one can get.

Sometimes a sequence is just two photos. Sometimes it is six or eight. And, other times a single frame conveys the story best. There is no magic formula, it’s all about intuition and experience.

Let’s take a look at an example I shot recently at St. Louis Union Station. To set the stage, our lovely bride wanted to give her father a first look of her in her dress before heading for the church.

Anxious Anticipation
First Look
Hugs All Around!
Tearful Reaction
A Quiet Moment to Recover

What a moment! Any single photo is strong enough to be seen by itself. In fact, the second to the last with bride and father under the archway is particularly strong and earned its own blog post. But the real power comes when we view these as a series, more touching than any single image by itself.

To break it down, the first image establishes the setting and the characters. We’ve got some lovely interaction between Mom and Dad, helping us understand a little about how important this moment is to them.

Next we see the action: Dad turns and is stunned by his daughter’s beauty. You could NEVER pose a smile that was more proud or more excited.

The next two images are the reaction. They’re smaller and closer together to imply relative importance in the whole story.

Next comes the archway photo. That the tears have started to flow is both action and reaction at the same time. This is a particularly strong photo of an emotional moment. It could stand well on its own, but the previous images help us understand this moment much better.

Finally, we have a little epilogue: Dad recovers as his daughter heads toward the waiting car and her husband-to-be. This image really touches me. Yet it is presented smaller than the rest as a quiet coda, an echo of the scene we’ve just experienced.

Thinking is sequences is not always intuitive to many still photographers, but it’s a style of storytelling that’s very natural and really sets me apart.


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