…..or grandad for that matter!
Today I’m conversing with my fellow photographers, but if you’re a bride or groom, please read on.
This is a post about the importance of capturing great images of much loved, elderly wedding guests, and in particular the grandparents.
In your haste to capture the minutest details of a wedding day, do you overlook the glaringly obvious? Are you merrily snapping away at little wedding guests doing entertaining things, thinking to yourself, ‘cute’? Do you complete a long list of group shots then give yourself a pat on the back, safe in the knowledge you managed to capture every important family member? Have your couples requested lots of shots of them and their school/university/work/rugby mates, but not mentioned their grandparents? It happens, but not because these photographs aren’t important to them. They’re assuming you’re going to get them!
For me, and I’m guessing for most of you, being a professional photographer is not the end of a journey, but a point along that journey. We constantly aim to improve our skills, we take inspiration from our peers, and we should, I believe, constantly evaluate what we do.
One such ‘evaluation’ came to me during my 2013 wedding season. It was realization that so many of the images we capture turn out to be priceless. I know, this seems obvious doesn’t it, but for some time I had been covering weddings in a reportage way, but not really thinking too deeply about things. In my head I would work through what I felt to be important; bridal prep, not forgetting a killer shoe shot, the groom and his mates at the church, the ceremony, a collection of candid shots of the guests, the group shots, the speeches, the first dance, and ‘obviously’ not forgetting the detail shots. This was fine, and covered everything, but it started to hit me that I was guilty of capturing those album pleaser shots. The shots that would look pretty in a spread, and yes, ok I admit it, the detail shots that might make a wedding bloggable! Whose album though? Your next sample album? Bloggable? For whom? For future brides to get ideas for favours and flowers or for a bride and groom to share and enjoy with friends and family?
Last year I added some additional questions to my pre-wedding bride and groom questionnaire, including if they had any special photography requests. I gave a specific example of ensuring I capture some shots of grandparents, even if they were not keen to be photographed, and reassured them that this could be achieved by candid and unobtrusive means. Time and time again, the questionnaires came back with a resounding yes, with couples keen for me to make sure I took some photographs of grandparents and other elderly guests. It’s now perfectly obvious to me that I don’t need to be asking this, it’s a given! These images can probably explain why.
This shot of Paula and her grandfather dancing is one I know she really cherishes. Even as a bystander it was such a sweet and touching moment, for a grandfather to actually get to dance with his beautiful granddaughter on her wedding day. Thank God I didn’t miss it!
I have several images of Alex with his grandmother taken at a recent wedding. This was after my lightbulb moment and I made a special point of ensuring I captured plenty. I knew when I handed over the couple’s wedding images, that I had presented them not just with those staple shots, but of actual moments like this. It’s become one of my favourite images. Doesn’t it just sum up how our grandparents love and protect us when we are young and tiny, and how this role can seem to be reversed with the passing of time. Such a tender moment.
I love this candid shot which features Louise’s mum, grandmother and aunt. It reminds me of my own grandmother who would never be without her handbag, usually full of tissues, mints and spare change for an icecream. I think of the affection with which Louise and all the family will view images like this in years to come.
Benji embraces his bride’s grandmother shortly after the wedding ceremony. It’s the coming together of families and cultures, and in years to come the remembering of a special day full of wonderful families members who came and shared a momentous day.
Joanne’s grandmother was typical of a member of the older generation that I know wouldn’t appreciate a camera in their face. This shot was taken with a long lens from halfway across the room. She was enjoying the moment, watching her granddaughter greet her guests in her beautiful wedding dress. Getting her to pose for me would have resulted in a completely different shot.
I adore this shot! For me it sums up everything that is wonderful about friends and family, who have often never met, coming together to celebrate a marriage. Generations mixing it up, and well… getting down. It’s these moments outside the group shots that really capture the personality and character of a generation told to stand up straight and smile during a photograph.
Another favourite and a perfect example of how weddings bring all generations together. This was a moment I captured when Sarah’s grandmother was particularly surprised by the content of the best man’s speech. Well you can imagine right? I imagine Sarah’s family looking at this and saying; “Oh look, that’s exactly what nana does when she’s shocked or surprised.”
Finally a moment that really tickled me. Abbie and her grandmother, dancing the night away. There was I thinking, good going gran, then suddenly she slipped out of her jacket, swung it around and really cuts some grooves. Nobody was going to leave this granny in the corner. Priceless.
I’m sure we all get as many family images as possible. Group shots certainly help with ensuring everyone gets at least one photograph with them in, but I think these are the shots that families will cherish. These are the moments that would make you smile. Demonstrate the way a much loved grandparent laughed, or looked at you. How they were when surprised, delighted, were full of emotion and pride. A reminder that the grandparent whose lap you once sat on and now tower above, is still loved and cherished and taken care of by you.
If you read this post and thought, yes Juliet, it’s obvious and we do this at every wedding, then that is brilliant and I apologise for ‘teaching your grandmother to suck eggs’. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
Wedding days often seem to pass in a flash, indeed, a whole lifetime can seem way too short, but your photography and those images you capture will go on. What you do is so important, never forget that.