The term “wedding photography” means different things to different people. To some it is a collection of pretty pictures taken during the wedding day. To others, it’s all about telling a story and preserving real memories. Neither philosophy is right or wrong, but they are as different as night and day.
Pretty Pictures like the one above are primarily set up and posed. This is what often comes to mind when thinking of wedding photography. The action of the day stops and the couple or entire wedding party pose for the camera. Most often this involves going to a special location just for posed photos.
The problem with pretty pictures is that they don’t elicit much of a memory except “the photographer posed us that way” or “that was us on our wedding day.” There are no specific emotions associated with standing in front of a nice background. No story other than, “That’s where we posed for pictures.”
Storytelling, on the other hand, is all about preserving a moment with an emotion or significant memory associated with it. Years from now, you’ll look at the photo and immediately be transported back. You’ll be filled with the same emotions you felt that moment, remember the conversation you were having, the laughs you were sharing. There is a far deeper meaning to each photo.
Some photos capture personal memories. Others are more subtle, setting the overall tone and feel of the day. While a photo of two guests engaged in conversation may not spark a personal memory, it creates a better sense of time and place and conveys something of the personalities of the people you shared your day with. It helps to establish the setting within which your personal story is told.
My own philosophy of wedding photography: it’s all about telling the story and capturing real memories. While I am obsessive about creating artistic images of the very highest quality, I have almost no interest in creating “pretty pictures.” Yes, I always end up creating some posed photos, but I feel it should be limited rather than the focus of the day.
Instead, wedding photography should capture the memories and story. I am documenting your day as it would happen if there was no camera present at all. And, by doing so, capture real memories of a time and event that is all-too-quickly gone.