Be inspired by decisive moments on the streets to create better wedding photography.
If you are reading this article you must have some interest in street photography, or maybe you are starting as a professional wedding photographer, but most likely you are interested in both fields. This will give you some ideas on how to draw inspiration from street photography that you can use in your wedding work.
A street photographer can be anyone going out to wander the streets of a city with their camera, in order to make photographs that tell the human story of daily life as it occurs on the streets. A wedding photographer on the other hand, is one that is hired to capture memories, tell the love story, and the unfolding special day in a family’s life. The wedding photographer is a professional with enormous responsibility to find, and deliver the right frames, that will recreate trusted memories, decades after the big day is over.
A clear personal artistic voice is what separates one photographer from another. That voice is who you are, but that voice of yours needs constant care and development, in order for it to be a dominant factor in your photographic style as a professional photographer. Competition, changing trends, and the release of new gear also have their own voices that can influence your photography. Maintaining a balance between your inner world and the outer influences is key to success as a street-wedding photographer.
The following tips came from the world of street photography and are perfectly suited for the wedding photographer. If you master them on the street, you can go to a wedding with confidence, and sing your own song with your camera.
1 – Planning versus reacting
What it takes to make great decisive moment photographs is, that first of all you need to see them before they occur. The longer before the better, it will give you the time to plan your composition, and work towards a frame that will be exciting and tell a story. In order to see things before the happen it takes looking around your subject, and constantly look at the surroundings of the bride, rather than focusing your attention only on her. This way you will be able to notice other elements and people that make your frame more interesting and communicative. Even as short as two or three seconds can be long enough for a street photographer to plan a good frame.
If you look around and plan your next shot you have a greater chance of catching the decisive moment, rather the one that follows.
2 – Create emotion
Freezing and blurring the movement of objects and people are two ways to communicate emotion in a photograph. It is a property that is unique to still photography, and is a big part of the photographic language. But often many photographers think that a wedding photograph has to be sharp and in focus, and the end result is often a precise documentation of reality, rather a poetic description of the moment. Give yourself the time it takes on the street to fully understand how the blurring and freezing of motion is being read and perceived by the viewers.
Master motion techniques then bring them into the weddings you photograph.
3 – Understand the way light can work for you
Explore the way light falls on things, and the way it looks in your street photographs. When your are under the stress and responsibility of a wedding day the thinking side of your brain often takes over, and shuts down the creative side. You may see the wedding as a checklist of photographs to be taken, images of subjects, rather than decisive moments to tell a story.
One way to keep the creative brain in charge of things is to remind yourself constantly to work with the light, see light, change it if necessary, and let go of the subjects. If you are photographing the bride getting ready, she is the subject whether you think about it or not, now it’s time to think about light.
4 – Responsibility and integrity
Whether you work for yourself as a street photographer, or as a professional wedding shooter, you should be able to sleep well at night. You should never publish street photographs that might hurt someone’s feelings or cause them damage. However, that being said, you should also remember that the act of photographing people on the streets doesn’t harm them in any way, and have no fear to do your art.
There is another side to the coin of responsibility, that is integrity. when you are hired to photograph a wedding be sure to have shown only photographs that were made by you, that are a good representation of your style and voice. Be sure to let your clients know that they are going to get artistic street-wedding photographs if that is what you want to give them!