Updated: Jan 30, 2018
Finding and hiring a wedding photographer is one of the most important decisions prospective married couples have to make alongside venue, outfits and how far the divorced parents are going to sit from each other at the top table. Once upon a time when cameras were prohibitively pricey and photographic expertise was exclusive and sought after, photography businesses were highly lucrative. Twenty years ago a friend with a law degree was making so much money from wedding photography in his spare time that he considered ditching the law altogether. Those were the halcyon days that today's photographers can only dream about. Since digital cameras got cheaper and flooded the consumer market, the role of the wedding photographer has become less hallowed. Most people are photographers now, snapping the world endlessly with their sophisticated mobile devices, with high quality results.
I've always wanted to take wedding photos because it can be the most rewarding and exhilarating thing you can do to share someone's 'happiest day'. But it wasn't until I got married myself that I fully understood the importance of the role of the wedding photographer. As a diffident and unassuming couple, my partner and I had been reluctant to embrace all the traditional trimmings of a wedding. We didn't want a big show with all its technicolour glory flashing out of wedding mags, to demonstrate our love and commitment to the world. We just wanted to make the commitment quietly and have our loved ones there to share it with us. The opportunity to dominate the world for a day just did not appeal to us at all. We wanted something personal and subtle, with little attention being drawn to us. We both wanted it to be a special day for us but recognised that the event was as much about our guests as it was about us.
We knew the ceremony would be unavoidably focused on us as a couple. We would have to perform the requisite rites and rituals in front of everyone but hoped the rest of the day would disperse the limelight to lots of little shared moments with our handful of guests. We hired a photographer whose work had a documentary style and we hoped that he would just take photos without us noticing. It did not quite work out that way.
Our affable but assertive photographer, Darren, set up the group photos in such a way that the big exhibition we had wanted to avoid became inevitable. He chose the site of a deep red Chesterfield sofa in a central location as the place to host the group photos. He got us to perch merrily on the sofa, showcasing a plush mirror and props in the background. He then proceeded to invited groups of guests to pose with us. Plying us both with glasses of champagne to ease the nerves, Darren got on with the business of immortalising our special day. As he guided family members to positions around us, in what felt somewhat like a royal summons, our happy day was being framed by lots of different faces and smiles . In the hour or so it took to get everyone into the frame in different combinations, the photographer got us to focus entirely on ourselves and the important commitment we had made. Making us pose as a couple at the centre of others really emphasised the importance of marriage and the multiple bonds it creates and reinforces. Darren was not just taking photographs, he was the narrator of the story of our lives. In doing so he reminded us how special the event was by bringing into a smaller frame so many of the people that defined the meaning of our lives. In years to come, the photography will not only will remind us of how happy we were that day, it will also be remembered for creating new moments of utter bliss that will bring a smile forever.