These aren’t photographs; they’re relationships. {Philadelphia Wedding Photography}

There’s nothing better at weddings than great families.

One thing that I always try to stress in my photography–both in talking about it, as well as in the images that I aim to make–is the importance of relationship. This can be taken in a couple different senses. There’s the relationship of elements in the frame, for example, and the relationship between the photographer and the subject, whether the shot in question is a portrait where the subject is aware of the photographic process, or a candid shot where the photographer’s knowledge of the subject and environment prepares him or her to anticipate the critical moments just before they happen.

And then there is the relationship between the people inside the viewfinder. I mean, as they exist out there in the world. Weddings are so enjoyable to shoot because the day is all about relationship, and the activities and ceremonies and celebrations put aside just about everything else and allow the true nature of the countless relationships amongst the various participants to be visible. And I get to shoot it all, from the father of the bride seeing his daughter in her bridal gown for the first time, to the couples who have been married for forty years, on the dance floor late in the evening.

The above image comes from such a moment…from Lora’s smile, to her father’s look of content pride, to Lora’s son loving being a part of it all. This isn’t an image of three people. It’s not even an image of family. It’s an image of a relationship.

Preceding this shot, I have a number of shots of Dylan looking like a groom who’s having his picture taken. We chatted a bit, we laughed some, the best man was there to crack some jokes and tell some stories. I wasn’t getting it. I stopped shooting for a bit, left and came back, shot some candles or something to clear my mind and eye, and went back. Everyone had relaxed a bit. Dylan started looking like himself, and this shot came soon after.

And the Maid of Honor. We could write out what she said, and I’m sure you’ve heard it before…growing up friends, quality of character, how good Dylan is for Lora and vice versa. We can always wonder at how these relationships all have their similarities, and their idiosyncrasies. It was a lovely, touching speech, and the deeper she got into it, the more you could sense that the moment was coming. I think I got something close to it here. Her words conveyed her message; this expression conveys the relationship.

I asked the guitar to dance later in the evening, but it said it had to step out to make a phone call. It wouldn’t make eye contact the rest of the evening. It was awkward.

And the best man, who sat down and played and sang an original song, unplugged. I’m probably partial to this image because I’m an eye-closer when I’m playing and singing, too. That’s probably because, when I’m playing and singing, too, it’s not a bad idea to avert your eyes, and I might as well lead by example. The song was bluesy and mellow, and well-done, and everyone in the room knew that, independent of the musicality of it, they were hearing the way that Lora and Dylan affect and better each other, and the best man, and, hopefully, each guest there. It’s the kind of thing that makes you want to close your eyes and have yourself a contented moment.

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2 comments

  1. One of the more perplexing shots I’ve taken was of a couple during their first dance; they were dancing like seventh graders who didn’t really know each other. The lighting was really nice, at least…but even a gorgeous room and off-camera flash doesn’t save it from the physical distance between the two.


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