Being a documentary wedding photographer is hard. On the face of it, the job seems relatively easy - Turn up, don't interact with people, don't pose or stage anything, take a couple of photos and go home. And that's it! Easy isn't it?
Wrong. Being a documentary wedding photographer is very hard, and the true documentary shots are where most new photographers become stuck. Modern digital cameras are getting smaller and smaller, yet you're still very noticeable when you walk around the venue, camera in hands. As you are probably aware from any time you've tried to take a photo of someone, the second they realise that they're being photographed their personality and the way they act completely changes. Documentary wedding photography is therefore about being in the right place at the right time, having the correct camera settings set and ready to go - the whole time without being seen or noticed. And it isn't easy.
For me, one of my favourite times to get some really good reportage wedding photos is during or just after the speeches. Here, I tend to not point my camera at the father of the bride, groom or best man all of the time, instead often turning it to the people who are listening to the speeches as their reactions are usually a gold mine for a photographer. For the above image, I was using a long telephoto lens but still had to position myself in front of the wedding guests as the speeches were taking place. This meant that I really had to pick and choose my moments carefully. I saw this wedding guest listening intently and knew that with how the light was falling on her it would be a good photo. She seemed transfixed on the groom who was speaking at the time, so I slowly raised my camera to my eye and took a single photo. To hold the camera there any longer would risk me being noticed. Not to worry though - one shot taken, one photo in the bag!