I quite often ask myself, “What is it that appeals to me so much about black and white and why is it such a good medium for wedding photography?” & “Will others like it as much as me?”
I suppose some of my passion for it comes form my longstanding background with film photography. Not some re-discovered trend, but something that dates way back, when I could be found slaving away over enlargers and trays of chemicals, dodging and burning to get the best image I could. I just didn’t think that people could show such emotion in colour in the same way at the time.
In fact there’s a photographers cliché that says
“Colour photographs the clothes, but black and white captures the soul ”
I’m not sure that’s quite true! But I think it goes a small way to explain why, for me, black and white somehow captures the emotion and feeling of an event, while colour sometimes seems to merely document or record it. It’s also why most photographers slip in the occasional black and white image to their collections.
Having said all that, of course, if colour is an important part of the story, say for a photograph of the bride’s bouquet or specific detail, then of course, I’ll use colour. But for a reason.
I still love photographing people. And I use the word ‘love’ advisedly. No genre is more thrilling, more challenging and more satisfying, than documenting with a camera people, discreetly and unobtrusively, on one of the most emotional and important days of their lives. That’s not just a line that I trot out; I’m totally passionate about it. Is portraiture part of documentary wedding photography? For me it is, and to exclude it is somehow leaving things incomplete in my eyes.
Recently I looked back at a wedding album from the 80’s. Full colour and lots of cheesy group shots, as was the fashion then. The thing that struck me most was how much ‘the look’ had dated. Not only in fashion, but how the colour had faded and just looked a bit, well, tired, and not in the current vogue for ‘photoshopped’ vintage either.
If there was any one picture that I’ve seen recently that entirely captures the emotion and closeness between a couple, it’s a photograph, taken in the mid 60’s of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. Perhaps you’ve seen it before? It’s not a wedding photograph but this is what happiness looks like and it could have been taken last week. If I’d have taken that shot, which I didn’t, I’d be hugely proud. To me it’s a fresh today as it was 45 odd years ago.
So just pause to think…
…What will your wedding photographs will look like in years to come?