There's a few reasons I'm posting this particular image, which at first glance might not be the obvious choice for a documentary photographer. It leapt out at me during my current edit, and made me think about this type of shot. My approach is known to be unposed and natural, and ultimately that's why many people book me for their wedding photography. There's two things about this photo which aren't usual for me to post on the blog, let alone on a dedicated page. Firstly: it's a group shot; secondly: it looks stylised both in setup and processing.
Taking those two points in turn, let's start with group shots. A purist reportage photographer or a couple booking a photojournalist might not want these to happen on the day or be included in a set of images, but for the vast majority of my clients (around 90%), it's important to get a record of some specific groups of people at their wedding. I agree with this completely. A wedding is a huge life event, drawing together many people that might not get together that often. So taking a few moments to capture this is well worth it, and the way I work means it doesn't impact much on anything else that's going on.
And to the next point of it being stylised, there's a couple of things here. The clothes, styling and even yes the prop umbrella, are nothing to do with the photographer; they are 100% the personalities and choices of those in the photograph. So if that's how someone is dressed (and I think everyone here looked great), and is what they want to do at their wedding then it is my role as a documentary photographer to record that.
The final point is on the processing. In an Instagram world, we've become accustomed to filters, vintage looks, film emulations and many other ways with Photoshop presets or actions to make our clinically accurate digital photography look like it comes from a different era. Other than a tweak of the colour balance, this image has not had any processing. And also it was a mistake.
This look was unintentional; a happy accident Taken on a bright, sunny day at one of the most intensely lit times (around 3pm), I'd purposely setup all my group shots in the shade at South Farm in Cambridgeshire. I shoot without hoods on my lenses for various reasons, one of which is that I like the natural lens flare that can happen when shooting into the sun. This is an old effect which we would not get so often if using hoods or shading the lens in other ways. Every other shot in the session I must have been stood slightly further forward for, as this is the only one with the washed out exposure. And I love it. It's not a photoshop effect or processing trick, but purely a product of light, lens and camera.
A group shot with (unintentionally) vintage style to it. Who says documentary photography has to follow the rules all the time?
I'm interested to hear anyone else's thoughts on this. Let me know in the comments.