10 wonderful wedding photos…
And why we love them
So what makes a wedding photograph truly great or wonderful? In the wedding industry, that really is the eternal question and it’s almost a cliche to ask it. Having been in the wedding industry for over 20 years it is a question I am always posing to myself, our Team and here in the office when we are going through our galleries of photos from current weddings. Our job is to continually push the envelope and search for what makes a wedding photo exceptional and the answer keeps changing over time. But please keep in mind ….
This list of wedding photos is not comprehensive
Readers beware: The photos that I have identified here to share with you and our reasoning for each of the photos is clearly not a comprehensive list of all the elements that make great wedding photography. I know there are going to be some readers out there that will find fault with our reasons for liking each of the photos and there will be even more readers out there who will find fault for what we have left out or omitted from this article. But it’s not going to dissuade me from writing about these wonderful photos anyway ????. To create a comprehensive list would be nearly impossible because my list is different than your list and is different than other photographers’ lists. And you will …
Never get all of these shots in one wedding
It would be impossible to try to get all of the elements that we are pointing out in this article in one single wedding. It’s never happened as far as I can remember. But as a professional wedding photographer we are always keeping these ideas in the back of our mind as we are working the day of your wedding. In fact I think it would be a mistake to attempt to create a list and then complete each step on the list at a wedding because you are inhibiting creativity and spontaneity that always happens the day of a wedding. The photography would become too formulaic or almost like using a recipe. That’s part of the excitement of a wedding that no one is the same as another and therefore the photography is never the same as another. And that is why …..
Our style is natural, not heavily photoshopped.
It’s also important to point out that our style here at this wedding studio is different than other wedding studios. For example, we do not have heavily Photoshop our photos before we deliver them to the client. That’s a very conscious decision, something I decided many, many years ago — that would not be our style. I’ve always drawn upon some of the great photographer Masters even going back to the 40s and 50s of Parisian Street photographers such as Robert Doisneau. And I have tried to emphasize those natural, candid aspects throughout my photography career – and you’ll see those elements mentioned here in these photographs. And my first wedding photo I want to mention …
A groom sings to his bride on their wedding day
in St. Pete Beach, FL
I truly love this photograph for simple reasons. First: a groom singing to his bride on their wedding day is always emotional and touching. Second: you can see profoundly the effect it had on the bride by her downward glance and the emotions that it brings out. And then there are subtle elements here that some people might not notice at first. Despite it being on a beautiful Florida beach our photographer chose to change the color to black and white or almost sepia tone. Again, thus changing the mood of the photo. And finally our photographer chose to do what we call here in the office “non-standard cropping” i.e. it’s not cropped in a normal aspect ratio of 2×3 or 4×5 — it is short and wide again creating a unique effect which I personally love. Because it is not a traditional size cropping, it grabs your attention. You can tell there is something different and unique about it. Which leads to our next example…
A very happy bride covered in confetti
At first glance you may say: “…oh that photo’s been done before. What’s unique about this photo?” But I will tell you what really makes this photo exceptional is the pure joy our bride had on her day and that emotion and motion jumps out at you when you look at the photo. This pose has been done by hundreds of photographers over the years BUT most of them turn out “flat” and feel very posed or staged. Instead, our photographer was able to capture the raw emotion that just jumps out at you when you look at this. That ability to make our clients feel comfortable on their wedding day and then bring out raw, candid emotions is what sets up apart as wedding photographers and videographers. And personally, I love to see our clients this happy on their day. And so you may ask yourself ….
Why include a “venue shot” in a
list of great wedding photos?
Normally you would not think a venue shot would be included in a list of what makes great wedding photography. But venue shots can be very important in establishing perspective to the viewer. If you only saw the action that was going on inside this barn at the wedding you would lose the perspective and the emotion of what’s going on outside. Choosing a wedding venue is very important to creating your special day. It sets the mood for the day: is it casual? Is it formal? etc. Our job as wedding photographers is to show that. Also, this exterior photo is very moody and dark at night and the beautiful reflection on the pond brings that out even more but our job is to establish that perspective and our photographer did a great job here. But if you think a venue shot is strange to include a list of great wedding photos, wait til you see….
Sebastian the Ibis crashes the wedding party!
Sebastian the Ibis – mascot of the University of Miami‘s football team is seen here crashing the wedding reception. Why select this photo? Sometimes it takes only one element to make a photograph so great. In this case it is the utter “randomness” or unexpected event that occurs. I mean, how many times have you seen a University mascot crash a party? It really is a very unique situation – and one that deserves to be highlighted. The guests had no idea that Sebastian would be arriving to commemorate this special day for the two graduates from the University of Miami. But that surprise or randomness sometimes can make a photograph stand out and make you stop in your tracks when you see it and think: “…why is the mascot there at the wedding”. And speaking of “stopping in your tracks” — this next photo did just that and made me say…
WOW, WOW, WOW!
This photo here truly made me stop what I was doing in the office I was so moved by this striking Bridal portrait. Our office manager had the same reaction to this photo as well and it’s not just the beauty of the Bride but subtle elements such as poise, posture and posing — and how she looks directly at the camera piercing the lens. Our photographer chose both color and black and white versions of this but we believe the black and white is even more striking and brings out raw emotion. What do you think of this photo graph? It also happens to be at one of our absolute favorite wedding venues in Southern Florida – Longan’s Place. And the emotion in this wedding photo is the exact opposite compared to the next one…..
An emotional reaction to the surprise proposal
And with this Photograph here one could argue “…oh, it’s just another staged surprise proposal photograph.” But if you look closer there’s more going on here. We photograph many surprise proposal engagements each year and they are all unique and different. But what is truly lovely about this photo is the animated expression of surprise, and joy and elation that his girlfriend genuinely exhibits when he gets down on his knees. Adding to this are her dramatic hand gestures which accentuate that emotion and bring it out to a deeper level. I love to see our clients so happy! And the next photo does not draw your attention to the couple so we call this a ….
Beautiful “scenery” wedding photo
And where do I begin talking about this example of great wedding photography? Of course, composition is so important and our photographer did a wonderful job of composing this wedding portrait. At first glance our critics might say: “But you can barely see the couple and you can’t even see their faces very well!” That’s true. And that is why I call this a scenery photograph. It’s not an up-close portrait. You’re emphasizing the scenery which also gives perspective on the wedding day. Without perspective, without the scenery –you don’t really know about what went on at the wedding. Added to this of course is the natural beautiful setting of Secret Gardens Miami which is another of our favorite wedding venues in southern florida. And NO! we did not stage the swan that just miraculously, coincidentally swam by our couple as we were creating their wedding portrait. But what a wonderful surprise to have that as well. Going back to composition: the way that our photographer chose to frame the couple with the trees, the hedges, the bushes and the water — it perfectly frames them which brings your eyes and your focus to them thus creating an even more powerful wedding portrait But we haven’t talked about the next element yet …
Why lighting is so important on your wedding day
Then there is this beautiful – no classic– photograph which is staged and is posed. Yes we know that. But even though it is staged and posed, it’s still a great photograph. The couple and the car are “backlit” – with the sun poking through the trees which creates a hazy effect on the day which can be very romantic. You see why lighting is SO important? And to get this beautiful lighting we recommend our clients ask us well in advance “what is the optimal time of day” to have our wedding. We can help you plan the perfect ceremony start time. But some photos are so un-planned and spontaneous such as …
A beautiful bride blowing a kiss
I just love this photo! Clearly the background is one aspect of what makes it special it’s “so Florida” – beautiful Palm trees and blue sky. It’s also the angle that it was taken at. It’s lower than the bride as if our photographer were kneeling when she took it so it gives it a different perspective than eye to eye level. And then finally just the sheer joy and sincere, un-staged happiness on the bride’s face as she blows the kiss. As is often the case with many compelling wedding photographs, it’s not just one element it’s all the elements that come together to create a great photograph. You could call it the “totality of elements” that form and come together to create a great photo. But what is going on in this last photo….
Wedding couple throws bouquets at our photographer
And pure “randomness” can play a part in creating great wedding photos. Our couple here on the beach in Bimini spontaneously through the bouquets as a fun gesture at our photographer. Our photographer’s timing was perfect. And it grabs your attention immediately. It drew me in the first time we were viewing it here in the office. I said to my office manager: “What’s going on here? ” — and then we figured out they threw the bouquets. Again, just when I thought I had seen everything in wedding photography –no no– there’s always something new, something different, something compelling. And that’s just one of the reasons I like wedding photography so much — you’re always growing, you’re always learning and it’s never boring. Which leads us to our final question ….
What makes a wedding photo so great?
The answer is there is no one single reason. There are endless reasons. They’re all unique. And it depends on you — the viewer. My reasons may be different than your reasons. Our job as wedding photographers here in Florida is to use as many creative techniques as we can to create many different compelling photographs on your special day. What is your opinion? What do you think makes a wedding photo so great?