DraftPics by Mike Elford

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Wedding Photography:

Is it Posing or Directing

I have always taken pride in saying that I don't "pose" my brides. And it.s true. But I do direct. And there is a difference!

To begin, I do not bring a shot list. I don’t. I’ll post an article about that at some point, but here’s what I think about when I arrive on the scene. I observe my brides, their details, their family. I can almost immediately understand their personalities. Or the anxiety within the room.  I’ll mentally note what I’d like to see from my couples in the images. I am always watching – almost studying my brides, along with the interactions with their families and, of course, the interactions with their new husbands. If I see something – a look- or a gesture and need it recreated, I will recreate the situation, not the instruction to recreate what I’ve just seen. You can fake emotion. So, I won’t share the precise shot I was looking for. This way, the shot is entirely natural. The image photographed captures the feeling. All because I didn’t “pose” it. It did happen naturally. I just saw something I thought was a great moment and set out to capture it. And magically, it always works. It just does. If I told her that I liked the look she made, and redo it please, I think we all can agree, it just won’t happen, regardless of how much we try. I keep the flow going, constantly observing the nuances that occur naturally.
I understand people and their behaviors. I love learning what makes my couples tick. I love the sociology of human interaction. That’s my secret.
Often, I’ll put people in a situation or setting with an idea of what will happen next. My couples don’t know… they’ve never done this before, especially on a wedding day. And with some distance, using a long lens, my couple feels secluded. Like no one is watching, they talk, laugh, kiss…. whatever. It’s all being photographed. They were directed to ignore me and just be themselves. “Hang out for a while”. Once they relax, the emotions come out… It’s genuine. And for me, it’s very predictable.
My images are beautiful because of the couple, the moment, the technical skill needed to achieve the image, and, most importantly, my vision. It’s a vision of “what is beautiful,” “what is wedding photography,” and, most of all, “what will make my couple look the absolute best.” I do this at every wedding I photograph, every time. And that is my secret to becoming a great wedding photographer.

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