Street photography at weddings

Angela & Andy’s Edinburgh elopement, and this photo of them on the Royal Mile in particular, is a perfect way to talk about street photography at weddings.

This is not a staged photograph. I took it by racing ahead of them and then setting myself up in a decent location and waiting for them to walk through my frame.

I chose this spot because I wanted to get a shot of them in the thick of the crowd. I also wanted to get something in shot that reflected the Fringe festival, and I thought that the living statue in between and above the couple fit the bill. You wouldn’t know this, but the couple will recognise several of their family members in the background who were following them up the Royal Mile. The lady in the foreground on the right completes the image with a splash of colour.

What is street photography anyway?

The older I get, the less I like labels for things, but I suppose I have to make some attempt to define street photography so we are all on the same page.

I would start by using the words like real and authentic. These aren’t staged photographs where you can control everything in the frame. You are making the photographs in the heart of the city where everything is changing around you all the time; the people, the light, the mood. You have to act quickly and think on your feet.

This fast paced nature of street photography translates well into a wedding environment, as many of the skills required overlap.

Street photography, for me at least, is more about creating layers in a photograph rather than isolating your subject, which is what I tend to do more often at weddings. It’s relatively easy to shoot everything at 1.4 and have lots of out of focus areas and make it look like a ‘professional’ took the photograph (although bokeh is getting easier to fake computationally on our phones now). It’s tougher to shoot at an aperture such as f5.6 as I’ve done here, that makes pretty much every part of the picture in focus. It forces you to work harder on your composition skills to lead the viewer’s eye.

As I shoot more street, and that informs my wedding photography, I find that I’m moving away from tighter lenses and towards wider lenses. Rather than the crisp, bokehlicious head shot you’d get with a telephoto lens, which is technically perfect but tells you nothing about the wedding day, I prefer a wider shot of people in their environment or interacting with other people.

I am gravitating towards wide and standard lenses such as the 18mm (28mm full frame equivalent), 23mm (35mm equivalent) and 35mm (50mm equivalent).

For this shot I used the 18mm lens over my usual wide angle, the 23mm f1.4, which helped to get more context in the shot. I love that little pancake lens. It’s so tiny and unobtrusive! And it has loads of character.

I suspect that I’ll be using this lens more and more for both my wedding and street photography in the future.

Angela and Andy pushing through the Fringe crowds during their Edinburgh elopement

Angela and Andy pushing through the Fringe crowds during their Edinburgh elopement

Camera: Fujifilm X-Pro2

Lens: Fujifilm 18mm f2

Focal length: 18mm

Aperture: f5.6

ISO: 200

Exposure: 1/220