Embracing Imperfection

Martin and his groomsmen walk through a back alley in Carlisle while wearing sunglasses

  • Camera: Canon 5DMkII
  • Lens: Canon 35mm f/2 IS USM
  • Focal Length: 35mm
  • Aperture: f/4
  • Iso: 100
  • Exposure: 1/320

One of the reasons that I love this photograph is probably why some people will hate it: it's not perfect.

Of course, there are elements I really like. The groom and his groomsmen look really cool striding through the city in their sharp suits and sunglasses, giving the photo a Rat Pack / Reservoir Dogs feel. I like the harsh lines of the brickwork and paving stones of the alley floor. It suits an all male wedding photograph; usually wedding photographers use soft foliage as a backdrop. I have edited this photo in black and white with a lot of contrast and deep blacks. Men are typically good subjects for this sort of treatment. The only thing that hints at this being a wedding photograph at all are the buttonholes. 

I like the fact that one of the men is pointing. It adds some dynamism to the image. What is he pointing at? What lies outside the frame? What can he see that we can't?

I have cut the feet off the groom and his groomsmen, which isn't ideal. This is because they were walking through Carlisle city centre to meet up with their guests, and I had to run ahead of them, and then frame my shot and take a few shots as they came towards me. They'd walk past and I'd then have to run back ahead of them and repeat the process. By the time I took this photo I'd been doing that for 15 minutes and I was a bit tired!

Of course I do have earlier shots in the sequence with their legs in frame, but this is the shot I preferred. Having them walking out of frame adds a sense of urgency and movement to the shot. The position of the three guys in the frame is pleasing to me. I was crouched down, so that I would get the arch and as much brickwork into frame as possible, as well as that arch.

Some people will hate the binbags in the photo, but I love that element. The further I get into my wedding photography career, the more I am drawn to documentary and photojournalism style photography. The danger with posing people, and having pre-prepared shotlists for a wedding is that you can treat every couple and every wedding the same. Your photographs might not reflect the actual wedding day. The wedding day becomes something that the photographer constructs, rather than reflects. In the long run it's easier for the photographer to work with poses and shotlists, because they only have to discover the formula once and then stick to it for every wedding. Shooting in a documentary style keeps you on your toes all day and ensures that every wedding will be unique.

Details like the binbags, or the female passerby add context to the photograph. They anchor it to a real place. They add authenticity. The imperfections breathe life into the photograph.

Well, they do for me anyway. What do you think?