It’s wedding fair and booking season at the moment and the most common conversation I have with couples is around ‘a natural’ style. When asked ‘how would you like your wedding photography to be?” this is the most common response; and that sounds spot on to me. A natural style, though, doesn’t mean to say it all has to be pure documentary. It’s often about a mix of spontaneous story telling shots, beautiful yet simple portraits and some family photos with the folks. It’s the approach that allows the day, or the story, to flow naturally. That’s the key to a natural look and feel. Natural photography allows the day to breathe and is about the couple’s wishes and wants and everyone on the day and is not about the photography itself.
Rather than a formulaic, some would say cheesy approach (“photographer decides you must have photos of this, like this and in this way because it’s supposed to be trendy”) it is more about a response to people. People are at the heart of my photography and I’m in the company of people that, apart from the bride and groom, I have usually met for the first time. It’s that chemistry that will give the natural, spontaneous photo that will be unlike any other whether planned or totally unplanned. It’s the people that dictate the photo and not the other way around.
Here’s a few photos that I love for these reasons and why.
Natural is to plan the unplanned. Then people do the rest. Good old Stuart, father of lovely LeAnn, the bride. LeAnn wanted some shots alone with Luke and dad, Stuart, was very chipper and was hanging around. He was having a great time but rather than get the ushers to cart him off you just had to roll with it and this is one of my favourites. He said of it after, “I can’t remember whether I was laughing or crying”. It’s both for me when I look at this, Stu. Completely unplanned.
Gorgeous yet simple portraits. This simple set of photos of Sophie & Lawrence took a few minutes. They just had a few moments to themselves and pretty much forgot I was there. At a nice distance – intimate and private yet a full portrait style – I just let them do their thing and be themselves. The shot of Sally felt so natural to in the way it happened. I was a little way away while she had a moment to herself. She just looked down unprompted. Beautiful.
Special and personal moments. If there’s an idea for a photo or special shot wanted then so be it. Ian’s father had passed before the wedding so he and Kristina wanted to recreate his parents’ old wedding photo with his father’s motorbike. A big biking family, the bike was brought unbeknown to Ian’s mum. So he wanted me to capture the unveiling of the bike, Marie’s reaction to the photo and then recreate the shot. So down to the lake we went. That story then unfolded in it’s own way and we did the shot. Very emotional and beautiful. Back inside before the ceremony Ian’s dad’s jacket hugs the back of his chair and then forward to the emotion of the speeches. Whatever makes the day special and personal to people, photography is always second to that.
..And then there’s photos of the folks. The ‘formal’ group shots with dads, mums, mates and bridesmaids. Most people like to have some of these photos; mums like them very much….! But rather than shoehorn a templated list of all the combinations possible to be done in as little time as possible, the photography should allow them to happen naturally through the day and be relaxed, simple and unfussy. Groups come together naturally, so just let that happen with little prompting. More often that not, when people come together for a photo then it’s the unprompted reactions, that if allowed to flow in a fun and informal way, will be the shot people love. In fact this takes less time, is more relaxed and it feels a whole lot easier. I asked Mike what he wanted and he said, “it’s just about me having a crack with the lads” – and so it was.
So in reality the day is more of a mix of wants, wishes and possibilities; a blend of planned and unplanned elements and with a natural approach to photography that is spontaneous even if it needs a little bit of thought and attention beforehand. So as much as a natural style is about the look of the photos, it is as much about a way of photographing and letting the day unfold itself. And then you always have room for the unexpected…