Ernst Lalleman

How does the photographer prepare for a wedding?

Apart from the technical issues like equipment, available light in the different venues, the program during the day et cetera, there is, in my opinion, a much more important question: How am I going to capture the couple and their story so that they and their families will recognise themselves in the images. Every photographer has ideas and beliefs. We are inspired by the work of others or we take into account the wishes of the bridal couple.

If we were to stick too strictly to our ideas, conventions or expectations we may not capture what is really happening on the day itself; we will not capture the couple or the story of the day but we will be photographing our ideas.

I am huge fan of “finding photos”. Which means that the photographer is very alert and present and that he goes with the flow of the events. This way we will photograph the people and not our ideas or conventions.

In preparation for a wedding I take the book “Daar komt de bruid” (“Here comes the bride”) of the Dutch photographer Max Koot from my bookshelf.

In this black and white photo book from 1981 the photographer explains how he photographs people: “A photographer could take a beautiful photo; light effects, composition etc. perfectly all right. The people portrayed are then less important than the glory of the photographer. Or a photographer knows beforehand how the photo is going to be. In fact the photographer then is photographing him or herself.”

Eventually he explains what according to him is the best attitude: “I focus on the people, I want to capture the way they are, rather than fitting them in a template of a conventional beautiful photo. I prefer the mother of the bride crying over a photo of her child because I have captured the way she is rather than being applauded for an astonishing photo of the couple backlit by the sunset ”

To most documentary photographers Max Koot´s attitude may seem obvious but in my experience we need to repeat this over and over again so that we don´t get seduced into taking photos which are just beautiful.

Therefore I always take some time to glance through Max Koot´s book before the wedding day.


Photos from the book “Daar komt de bruid” (1981) Max Koot

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