I don’t really think of myself as a wedding photographer, although that is where most of my income comes from. I see myself as a photographer who does weddings. A few years ago, and certainly when I started, that was not unusual. Most photographers who did weddings did other things as well, it was the desire to communicate in a visual way that moved them and wedding photography was another outlet for their passion.
We documented Jane and Mark’s wedding on the Norfolk Broads in September last year. I was brought up in that part of the world. I was born in Lowestoft and lived for a long time in Oulton Broad, although they are in Suffolk the slogan for Oulton Broad is “where Broadland meets the sea”. We were recommended to Jane and Mark by Andy Perkins. Andy was my assistant in the eighties and his partner is related to Jane. Andy does industrial photography these days and was flying back from some exotic location shoot the night before the wedding and didn’t want to take the risk of not making it. He did in the end and was a familiar and friendly face among the guests.
The day was glorious, as is often the case in Norfolk, I miss the huge, unbroken skies. We were covering the wedding partly digital with our state of the art Nikons and partly on black and white film with our Lieca and Olympus cameras. One of our Leicas was made in 1962 but has more than another 54 years left in it. We did what we do and quietly documented the day.
When the sun has shone all day and at the right time of the year there is a short window in the day that photographers, film makers and probably painters (it’s been a while since I called myself a painter) call the golden hour. It’s the 60 minutes or so after the sun has dropped under the horizon but is still lighting the sky. We often see it in the Lakes but in Norfolk it is simply stunning. At a well planned wedding, like Jane and Mark’s, the golden hour often occurs soon after the speeches and before the first dance. There’s always a lull in proceedings at that point, time for everyone to catch their breath, so we sometimes suggest to the bride and groom we go take advantage of the beautiful light and make some portraits.
We were doing that with Jane and Mark on the jetty when we saw the geese make their approach, you can see a long way on the Norfolk Broads. We asked them to stay where they were, told them where to look and ran ( I still do that occasionally and for the right incentive) to the vantage point. We didn’t have long. My experience as a film photographer tells me to make two exposures, in this case I only had time for one.
As a photographer who does weddings, composition is intuitive, I’ve been doing it so long (for most of the time as a wedding photographer) that I see the world framed in a 3:2 aspect ratio and split into thirds.