The great thing is though, that times of day differ, and more importantly, the couple differ. And also, I like having lots of different tools in my toolbox, so that's why you'll find me going from full glamour, to country-style to reportage, all depending on the situation. And as much as I don't like sepia, if the client asks for it, I'll supply it, in my sort of way :) .
Onto Wedding number 2, the following week at the beautiful setting of On the Rocks Restaurant, in Bloubergstrand. Again it was a tourist wedding, but this time two friends also joined, pushing the complete party to 6 (including me). The nuptials were concluded over a glass of bubbly in the restaurant, while a fairly raucus corporate party was raging in the rest of the restaurant. We then headed to the rocks, where the wind pelted us with fine mist and the temperature was rather low. However, when given lemons you make lemonade.
I tend to gauge my clients, and work around their personalities, traits and characters. There is a trend of "I don't shoot any posed photos", and with most photographers, I have to admit, I take that with a bit of salt. Some treat it as photographically blasphemous to use the word "pose", or to accuse a wedding photographer of shooting a posed shot, is akin to accusing them of copyright theft. I understand that people are reeling against the old school of formal and rigid posing, but I do believe most good photographers direct and manage. There are very very very few photographers, who truly only shoot reportage, and bring group shots and the whole shebang home. In fact, I haven't encountered one. There is certainly a good number of photographers shooting with the fly-on-the-wall approach, or who claim they do so exclusively, but I choose to not leave everything over to chance or to be completely fooled! Rather than "pose", I choose the term "direct". I believe in creating a framework in which the couple can be themselves, and where they have trouble doing so (as not all people are emotionally so adept at showing passion, romance, intimacy, even when their guard is down), I will direct and create situations, complimented with styling and lighting, to bring the message across. In fact, in my opinion, of which I'm giving a lot here, the different techniques apply to different parts of the wedding day, but can be mixed and matched to create new workflows and styles.
As a commercial photographer for more than 10 years, I have been doing the strobist thing for as long as I have worked. The "Strobist" craze and consequent Speedlight frenzy caught me by surprise, as I was under the false impression that photographers new about all this and just chose to shoot differently. However, I now take the same approach to using flash as to all other techniques. It's another tool in the tool-box. Don't get me wrong: I love love love cinematic style lighting, with strong rim-lighting and the like, but I realize also, the wedding images need a drama that is sometimes a bit different than the drama of a Nike Ad portrait. At one stage I was completely attached to the Speedlight style, but since it has become very popular, I have started toning down my usage thereof, and also using it differently, albeit, more conservatively.
Having said that, there are few things that get me so chuffed as a beautiful, cinematic portrait, with strong direction flash lighting, rim-lighting and film noir treatment!
The "when in Rome" approach should be evident as you look at the differences in styles and techniques between these 3 weddings. Apart from being a flash-fan, I'm a huge fan of big landscape portraits, but have learned that when couples tend to print in jumbo sizes, the effect gets lost completely. So I do this sparingly, but when I have the right location, I endulge!
In this particular wedding the couple had very firm ideas about design in general (architects), so I new they would be open to some fresher ideas, and I could shoot and treat less conservatively, but, they could probably smell cheese a mile away.
One thing I do have to highlight amongst all my rantings and opinionated waxing here on wedding photography: every photographer shoots according to their character/personality/mix of the above. You ultimately do what comes naturally to you. Or at least when you've grown in confidence enough to start developing a thumb-print. Or a signature. I like variety. I like options. Hence, my style.
So, irregardless of what trends might be on, what styles might be the hottest, couples should choose photographers based on the compatibility of their preferences to each other. I realize that my style will not be every bride's cup of tea. Nor do I think mine is the best, or the most beautiful. However, I think more variety would do our industry the world of good.
BTW - I didn't use speedlights at all in this last wedding. It was noon. Just goes to show, that one can do what you need to do, when it needs to be done. It'll just take on its own style.