Unusual wedding portrait

Camera:  Canon Eos 550D
Lens: EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS II USM
Focal Length:  120mm
Aperture: f/4
ISO: 1600
Exposure:  1/160

This unusual wedding portrait of the back of a guest's head is one of my favourite photographs. 

I took the photograph at my first paid wedding at Redworth Hall, Durham. It feels like a lifetime ago, and in terms of my approach to wedding photography it is. I did what I thought I should do, rather than what I wanted to do.

I was using a Canon 5DMKII as my main camera body, with a 24-70L attached (plus a Canon 430EXII on top). That was slung around my neck. My trusty Canon 550D was my back up camera and I had this on a Sun-Sniper strap with the EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS II USM. I felt like a real pro.

By the end of the day I was knackered and my back and shoulders were aching from carrying all that weight whilst being on my feet for over eight hours. After that wedding I decided to move from heavy zooms to prime lenses. Whilst the image quality produced by the zoom lenses was unquestionably good, I felt overwhelmed by the choices I had to take with every potential photograph. Taking focal length out of the equation helped me concentrate on what was actually happening, and helped me get closer to the action. It helped to make my portfolio more cohesive, as my photographs were all taken at two or three focal lengths.

As I looked through the wedding photographs at the end of the day I realised that the parts of the day I really valued and wanted to capture the most were the the unplanned moments. Not the wedding ceremony, not the cutting of the cake, not the group photographs. Instead, it was the kids playing just after the wedding breakfast, the father of the bride squeezing his daughter's hand before the speeches, the best man jumping up and down on a bouncy castle, or even the back of a guest's head as he walked through the wedding venue.

In short, I realised that I wasn't a traditional wedding photographer. I discovered that I was a creative documentary wedding photographer.

Of course I still photograph all of the formal parts of the wedding day, but the time I cherish the most are the moments between the moments; those fleeting moments of laughter, tears and the surreal, that the bride and groom might otherwise miss in the schedule of the day.

For the 2016 wedding season I have gone further down the documentary wedding photography route by swapping my Canon cameras for Fuji cameras. I now own a Fuji X-Pro2, with it's classic rangefinder styling, and an X-T1, together with a selection of prime lenses. The 18mm and 35mm are my main lenses - equivalent to 27mm and 53mm respectively.