Even though it may not always feel like it, wedding photographers have a great deal of autonomy on wedding days, which means one of the core skills of the job are being able to make good decisions very, very quickly.
You might think that first kisses don’t require any thought after we’ve done 1,000+ weddings. Far from it. This is still a split second that encapsulates so many months of planning and kicks off the biggest and most-defining part of life for most people, and a lot can go wrong.
Samantha and Matt’s wedding was amazing and personal in ways I will keep elaborating on in weeks to come, and we’d all been planning for it since before they were even engaged … but at that critical moment? The clouds parted, revealing the Worst Light Ever.
It was the sort of glorious spring sunshine through trees and windowpanes that might seem cheerful if a bit blinding to a layperson, but to a photographer? Well, right after the ceremony, an avid photographer guest asked “how the heck did you shoot in that?”
Answer: I didn’t.
The speed and simplicity of a first kiss removes a lot of choices, but you are still left with things like how close to be, which lens to use, what is your framing … but the most defining one is “which side will you shoot?”
In a vacuum, I would love to always try to photograph a first kiss from the back for a simple reason … it means that the background to the shot are the people that the couple loved enough to invite to their wedding.
But each decision is made in context. Shooting from behind is risky because you never quite know if people will get in front of your camera, and in many scenarios both getting and being there can feel very obtrusive. Moreover, even when it is the best position for that moment, it definitely puts you way out of position for all of the amazing moments that can happen right afterward, from first joyful glances to the recession.
This is why it is so fantastic to be a two-person team who trust each other completely. In those few seconds, we know that either of us can get the better angle for the first kiss and the other can piece their ways through the latticework of shadows to capture all the first post-ceremony moments. Partnership allows you to both cover your bases and take necessary risks at the same time.
(more tech info and the ”bad light” photo at patreon.com/thebrenizers)