I have been to some weddings that have been spoiled by the photographer. As a guest, I want to have a good time. I want to chat to my friends, and I want to congratulate the bride and groom. The people getting married are the stars of the show. Everyone wants to meet them, speak to them, make a fuss of them, and bathe in the happiness of the occasion. This is difficult when a photographer kidnaps the stars for a hour and half for portraits, and then grimly slogs through all the formal group photographs.
I do wonder about the tradition of photographs. That people have wanted pictures to commemorate an occasion is obvious enough, but since the invention of the film photography, an astonishingly large number of traditions has been invented, and I can't help feeling that this serves the commercial photographer more than the wedding guest. Groups shots of couple with best man and matron of honour is fair enough, and grooms family and brides family shots seem understandable, but when I hear a photographer call for "All ginger-haired left-handed friends of the bride who have scored a hat-trick for Everton", I really feel that my time might be better spent some other way.
Very often, people have travelled a long way for a wedding. The furthest I've been is Germany. They may only have a few hours in which to catch up with all their old friends and relatives, and those hours are precious. Reception DJs who play music so loud that no one can talk, and photographers that steal those hours are the enemy.
When I do wedding photography, I am rude to be polite. So far, this has been appreciated. After taking a few shots of the happy couple, I yell for the various groups to get in front of the camera, and then after I have shot them, I tell them to clear off and make way for the next lot. By this method, carried out I hope with good humour, I rattle through the task quickly, so that people can get on with celebrating.
My philosophy for wedding photographs is that reality is more I important than illusion. The actual day is more important than the photographic evidence for it. That it actually is a great day is more important than that the photographs give the illusion that it was.
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