Storybook Wedding Photographer M. Couturier

The Art of Photographic Serendipity

Recently, I have had two different fledgling photographers ask me with great concern why they seemed to be missing a lot of great shots at weddings.  I suspected I already knew the answer, but after some questioning it was clear that it all boiled down to a lack of experience with weddings themselves.  Each had done less than ten weddings total, one only four.  (I have seen many “wedding” photographers come and quickly go over the years.  It’s not as easy as they all seem to think.)

I explained that they did not yet fully understand the wedding itself, not just the traditional aspects of ritual and formality, but those things that one can only discern and anticipate by having been around a LOT of weddings, not to mention the many different faiths, denominations, customs, indoors, outdoors, rainy, hot, dark, etc.  This experience gives you an intuition.  A knowing.  I often know what is about to happen moments before even the participants themselves know.  Having done well over 1,000 weddings in the past 15 years has heightened my sense of anticipation.  Having a heightened sense of anticipation allows one to be ready in advance and able to capture that fleeting moment that will escape those who only realize 3 seconds after it is over what has just happened.  Anticipation allows preparation.  I never have to re-stage anything because I capture it when it actually happens.  It just looks more natural that way.  ;)

Serendipity.  Making fortunate discoveries by accident.  All very nice, but as a wedding photographer you will come away with very few great images if you are just waiting for ‘accidents’ to happen.  I’m not talking about forced or phony moments, but about being prepared.  A quote from a movie that I have always remembered – “chance favors the prepared mind”.  You will be much more apt to be able to capture those serendipitous moments if you understand weddings and what is going on around you.  You will then be able to anticipate, some times minutes ahead, but usually seconds, what is about to happen so that you are in the right position, have the right lens on the camera, the right shutter speed, the right aperture. Sadly, for those in a rush to get to the top of their field yesterday, that only comes from experience.

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Storybook Wedding Photographer M. Couturier