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As you pour over endless wedding photography portfolios in your quest to find your perfect wedding photographer on the Gold Coast or Byron Bay you might see some patterns. 

I’ve worked with a lot of other wedding photographers over my time and have even shot for their businesses when I have a spare day and I can’t tell you how many photographers want to pose the entire morning of bridal prep and groom prep. As a documentary wedding photographer, I find this extremely frustrating for the clients and also myself. Don’t get me wrong ill still pose a bride for a portrait but this is a different scenario.

Just to note I also understand that some people might want to have all their photos set up for them by the photographer so this is just my own opinion on the subject.

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When you look through recent wedding photography on Instagram or websites it’s sad not to see much artistic variation in wedding photography. I am certainly not claiming to shoot the best photos but the endless images of grooms or brides in the same set up staged formats is getting well ….a little boring.

Take for example the bride’s dress hanging up. You will often see a photo of the bride stood next to the dress pretending to touch the dress, why? A skilled photographer should not have to ask the bride to do this, they should know what will happen by predicting the moment and capturing it as it happens. Its almost cheating if you just stage the bridal preparations to suit your need and it becomes obvious in the images because the images look so static and made up. A perfect example below that I have pulled off Pinterest. It looks so fake like she is scared to touch it.

The classic fake shot, if you see this in a wedding portfolio then expect the whole morning to be just as set up.

Another example is when the bride is putting on her dress. More often than not the photographer will ask the bridesmaids to stand around and pretend to adjust the earrings or dress. If the bridesmaids are not helping the bride put on her dress why create a fake moment, sure it might look nice on the surface but it’s fake, it’s not real. You can however position your self to capture the bride putting on her dress and the bridesmaids doing something in the background, or perhaps use some creative composition to frame the subjects in a unique way, but hey why do that when its hard work and I can just ask everyone to move.

Don’t get me wrong, I love those shots. But I love to capture them in the real moment, naturally as it happens. There is no skill asking the bridesmaids to stand around the bride and fiddle with her dress, plus it just looks awkward.

I wait until the bride is dressed and a bridesmaid says, “don’t forget your earrings.” And I get a candid shot of the bride putting her earring in. The smiling bridesmaid might be in the frame. If I want an image of the earing ill wait till I can capture it in the right light, perhaps when she is in conversation outside and doesn’t even know I’m taking a photo.

People often assume that documentary wedding photography is just going around taking candid shots of this and that, but the artistry and effort to create good images is far more challenging than setting up photos. You must be constantly engaged in the environment looking at the compositions, frames, eye lines through the frame, depth, and light to ensure the best photo. They’re more original, real, and lively. The same posed images of the bride and groom getting ready becomes tiring and boring.

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A bride and her mother getting ready from a London wedding

I believe a talented wedding photographer should capture these images naturally using skills that include technical ability and anticipation of a moment before it unfolds, and this takes years of practice. It is an art that is becoming lost in the modern trend of overly posed and directed wedding images.

Most couples don’t want to be posing all day long, especially at the beginning while getting ready, so to turn up and direct the bride or groom getting ready for 50 mins, telling them to do this and do that is no way to work artistically. Its lazy and it’s boring. As a bride or groom who would want that, I know I wouldn’t. And herein lies the difference between someone that delivers 1000 wedding images and someone that delivers 300 wedding images. It’s easy to produce 1000 boring images, its hard work to produce 300 good ones. Who needs 1000 wedding photos?

Are you models on your own wedding day? Or are you real people living authentic moments throughout your big day? Ask yourselves how you want to be treated on the wedding day and what kind of images you want in your wedding album. The goal is to capture these images naturally and within these frames, moments of magic happen that turn a good photo into a timeless image. If the whole day is set up to suit the photographer’s own goals and desires then you’re going to end up with some pretty generic wedding photos, and sadly that’s the case when you look through a lot of portfolios. Next time you scroll looking for a Gold Coast or Byron Bay wedding photographer take a hard look at the image and ask has this been set up or is this real, how many of the images in the gallery are actually well-composed, original images, or are they just pre posed preparation shots. If you prefer the natural over the staged then make sure you get in touch.

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