Wedding Photography – Just One Moment…

There’s been a lot of hurt and heartache flying around the wedding photography industry over the last few weeks. I’m trying my best to keep away from it all, but it appears in numerous places. Having recently gone through a number of weddings, and commencing workflow on somewhere around 6,000 images from the last week, I’ve become more (sadly) wary of the images I take, and am forever torn between trying to please other photographers, and trying to please the client. I obviously know better; in a fit of frustration, I posted these words on my Facebook Page:

As I try to develop my own style of photograph and processing, it infuriates me more and more as other photographers continue to rip each other’s work apart.

Thing is, I’m not creating images for other photographers; my aim is (to try my best) to create images for my CLIENTS, which I would hope THEY could enjoy.

I know there are things technically wrong with some of my photos. Sometimes, there are no excuses for these errors. Sometimes, I’m just carried away in the wonder of the moment, and in my needful desire to capture a beautiful moment, everything else goes out the window.

Such moments occur while I’m second shooting. Apart from maybe 2, the photographers I have had the pleasure to work with, work in a completely different style to myself. However, they are wonderfully generous in giving me the opportunity to go along and learn what I could, whether I was taking a photo or not. 2nd shooting, as I hoped and have had confirmed, is not just about building a portfolio.

Stopping and taking the time to look around, to actually SEE what is happening on the day, to just WATCH what people are doing, waiting to capture those incredibly precious one-off moments…I found myself practicing that to great lengths over the weekend, since this is the style I ultimately aim for.

And while, as I say, I still need a lot of polishing with my technical skills, I think my people watching and story capturing skills are improving dramatically.

This first photo caught even myself by surprise. The wedding of Kirsty and Michael in St Editha’s Church in Tamworth. As Kirsty entered the church, she was composing herself just seconds before she had started moving. It’s such a significant moment; I knew she had finally seen her future husband waiting for her at the end of the aisle. I didn’t know if she would cry, I didn’t know if she would hold herself…I didn’t realise how moved she was by what she was doing. But as she looked to the heavens and the light hit her face, I had to capture it. How could I not? I didn’t know what the settings were, all I knew was that it was a moment not to be missed.

Tamworth Wedding Photography, Tamworth Castle Wedding

This next photo was taken at the wedding of the gorgeous couple, Kate and Ricky at Walton Hall in Warwickshire on Sunday, in a split second. Tom and I were quickly being ushered out the door, the bride was ready, her lovely uncle at her side ready to walk her in and give her away. Kate was incredibly nervous, and, I suspect, tearful as both of her parents had passed on and were with her only in spirit. Without checking my camera, as the door was being pulled closed, I turned, raised my camera, and hoped to capture a moment so incredibly moving, it would be something special to the bride and her uncle for a long time to come.

Kate & Ricky, Walton Hall, Warwickshire Wedding Photography

As I say – technically, there are a million things wrong with the images. I’ll get there, technically. I don’t claim to know it all, and be “at one” with my camera at all times. And at the same time, I don’t proclaim to make excuses! I know and understand I have a lot of work to do. I don’t want, or like, delivering sub-standard work to clients. At all. But sometimes, just sometimes, I think I need to just step back, stop sweating some of this stuff, and just remember who is important, and why it is so. Sometimes I just need to remember why I do what I do.

Sometimes, just sometimes, the story in the photo is the most important thing of all.

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These type of photos you take are the ones I REALLY love. They are the photos that truly capture the story of a day. I am not technically able to say what is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ with them, I can only say what I like. And I like them, in fact I love them and speaking as someone who has experience of you taking photos of them, I can say the best thing about you is that you do it with such apparent ease and really made us feel like you weren’t there. It’s quite a skill.

Love this post! Having read the various things online recently, I too question what I take and why. I have been editing this morning and came across an image where I have captured something quickly and unexpected. The technical aspect of the image is not perfect, but I love it for the reason that I know it will melt the bride’s heart. So here, here to your comments.

You were 100% right to take those photos – you have captured moments that I’m sure the brides will cherish forever. Sometimes, as you rightly say, the moment is so fleeting that you couldn’t possible check the camera setting or the moment would have passed. For what it’s worth, when I remarry *cough* I’ll book you xx

Lesley Ann

Some of the best photos from my wedding are the ones that aren’t posed. There’s a fantastic one of my dad as he’s walking me down the aisle, and he’s looking over to my aunt and uncle, with his cheeks puffed out and his eyes looking upwards as if to say “god I’m nervous”. It’s my absolute favourite of the day, because it was a one of a kind moment.

No one wants a series of all posed photos. You’re showing the human element of the day, the emotion, the funny moments, the moments everyone wants to remember. And that’s what sets you apart from the other photographers. Who cares if there’s something “technically” wrong, non-photographers (like me) wont notice, all we’ll see is a tenderly caught moment, which captures the whole essence of a wedding day.

Love love love that photo of the bride and her uncle. I welled up, soppy cow that I am!


Jay, I think your photos are absolutely gorgeous. I am very sure that your clients will LOVE them. I’m not in the wedding biz, but as with any business that involves the internet, there will be haters. Rise above them, continue what you’re doing so well, and do what you love.

Beautifully written, and beautiful pictures.

It’s the pictures that are about ‘the moment’ that I always love the most.

You have a strong style and great sense of what you want and most importantly, what your clients want. It makes me laugh when photographers talk about whats”right” and “wrong” and other technical guff. Only you know if it’s the image you wanted and if your clients love them (and clearly they do) then no one else knows a thing. Do what you love and hang the rest. Great blog too!

I would have been chuffed to have captured those moments Jay. It’s all about the emotion. Everything else follows. x

> Sometimes, just sometimes, the story in the photo is the most important thing of all.

ALWAYS, Jay, always. I think you nailed what you wrote here. It’s typical of a lot of men that they get caught up in the technical elements of photography and there *is* a big technical side to photography but that’s only half the job. The other half is seeing photographs. That can mean spotting when a moment is about to happen and being ready or making magic moments happen.

Being “at one” with your camera comes with practice. It’s very much a learned skill rather than an innate talent. Spotting and making beautiful story-telling pictures is an artistic skill which is more more ephemeral and difficult to learn. If I had to pick either of technical skill or artistic skill to begin my career with I would grab artistic skill with both hands.

I think that’s what you’ve got in spades. I often look over Ruth’s shoulder and when I see a picture I like I ask whose it is. As often as not it’s one of yours. You’ve got a talent and I’m thrilled that you’ve turned pro.

Incidentally, for a wedding photographer there’s a third “half” of the job – interpersonal skills. From what I’ve seen on video you’re probably pretty great at that too.

Lovely Friend Jay, I know sweet FA about the technicalities of photography, or of your industry’s opinions. What I do know is that you take beautiful pictures of real people at special moments & times in their lives & that they love them. You care. You care whether your client is happy, whether your client is comfortable, feels beautiful & is having fun. You care that they get the pictures they asked you to take & that your exceed their expectations. Someone got beef with that? Screw ’em.
With love from Very Happy Rock the Frock client of Jay Mountford Photography xxx

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