We often describe ourselves as documentary DC wedding photographers. What this means is that we endeavor to give our brides and grooms a pictorial record of their marriage day. We want their wedding photo album to visually narrate every special moment that they share with their friends and family. Viewing the images we deliver should transport them back to the day they tied the knot. The pictures should make them feel what they felt when they pledged their lives to one another. They should serve as an permanent visual reminder of those beautiful vows.
To do this properly, it is of paramount importance that a Washington, DC, wedding photographer is as unobtrusive a presence as possible. We have learned the hard way that many people do not feel relaxed when a camera is pointing at them. They become overly aware that their actions are being recorded on film. Brides and grooms can start thinking too much about how they look or move. That can make them tighten up and inadvertently rein in their emotions. And when that happens even a little, the resulting pictures lack the emotional impact they could have had. The best documentary photos display raw, unfiltered emotions. For those to shine through, the wedding participants need to forget that we are there.
When we say we want to fade into the background, however, we do not quite mean that literally. If we had to take every shot from the back of the room, we would produce some pretty boring images. We just want people to be less aware of our presence. Getting close to the action — in a discreet way, of course — is often the key to epic DC wedding photography. When we are photographing a wedding reception, for example, we often want to be right in the middle of everything. Showing guests getting crazy on the dance requires being in the heart of the madness. Shots from a distance do not adequately convey the feel of being surrounded by people celebrating a marriage. Pictures from inside the crowd make the viewer feel the heat, noise and energy of the dance floor. So a Washington, DC, wedding photographer needs to wade into the crowd to get the right shots.
The same is true for other portions a wedding day as well. Unfortunately, getting up close to brides and groom during the marriage ceremony is often not possible. Sometimes that is due to the wishes of the two people tying the knot. On other occasions, the wedding venue prohibits DC wedding photographers from getting too close to the altar. House of worship, in particular, frequently want those holding cameras to operate at a distance.
We understand those preferences and restrictions, of course. The exchange of vows and rings is a sacred event. Having photographers up near the altar at those moments can be distracting. It can also block the wedding guests’ view of the proceedings.
That said, we love it when DC-area brides and grooms (or their wedding venues) allow more freedom of movement. When we can get up close to them during the ceremony, we can really push the bounds of creativity. We can explore new perspectives and experiment with unique angles. We can take photographs like this one that are not possible from anywhere else in the room.
We took this particular picture at a destination wedding at Alpakahof Kananohe in Hannover, Germany. Neither the newlyweds nor the venue minded where we went during the ceremony, and we took advantage of that freedom. As the groom prepared to put a ring on his future wife’s finger, we got as close as we could. We then pointed our cameras skyward and got this unique shot of the ring exchange from below. The resulting image puts a fresh spin on a moment that has been photographed millions of times. In doing so, it gives the newly-married couple something special they can treasure forever. And that always makes us happy!