(In) Frequently Asked Questions – What Do You Do During The Meal?
I’m going to start a series of infrequently asked questions on the blog that talk about wedding photography in general and also give an insight into the specific way that I work on a wedding day.
What Do You Do During The Meal?
That’s a great question. Working with over 400 couples I’ve only had asked of me a couple of times (and not in an accusatory way, slacker that I am).
I don’t take photographs of people eating. It’s not attractive and I think it’s also a little invasive and would certainly make me as a guest feel uncomfortable. Once everyone has sat down to eat and I know no surprises are planned I’ll retire and put down my camera for a bit. It’s a chance for me to mentally rest from what can have been 5 or 6 hours of highly focused concentration and photography.
I have to eat too and I’ll either bring something along or wait to be served if the couple is kindly providing a hot meal. But I can never sit still for long.
Processions of Waiters all bearing food
While everyone is being served it gives me a chance to grab some photos of the venue (it’s nice to put the day in context) or even the meal being served. Processions of waiters all bearing plates of food will make an image that joins together the moments before and after the meal. I like to keep the narrative going. Between course I might also pop into the room and take a couple of ‘atmosphere’ photos or catch the bride and groom table hopping and chatting with guests.
Another possibility during the meal is that people will be nervously running through their speeches (if the speeches are being made in the more traditional slot after the meal) and I can’t resist a candid photo of a best man sweating over his upcoming ordeal.
Looking for gorgeous light
If it’s summer I’ll often suggest to couples that we don’t do any relaxed portraits of the two of them until after the meal. The light is often softer and more beautiful then so it’s the ideal time to do it. So during the meal is a good opportunity to find a couple of spots that will be bathed in gorgeous evening light.
During the meal is also a time that people often seek me out to have a chat. Guests interested in photography will gravitate over and either be interested in the small cameras I use on a wedding day or just want to talk photography in general. I’m always happy to chat!
Of course if I’m working late in to the night (couples sometimes book extra coverage of the evening party and dancing) it’s also a chance to get a little ‘disco nap’ in – 15 minutes shut eye in the car and I’m good to go for at least another 6 hours. Being the paranoid soul I am I always let the wedding co-ordinator know if I’m stepping out of sight and set a couple of alarms!
So I wish I could say that during the meal I’ll be kicking back and doing nothing but I find there is always something going on at a wedding and I can’t fully switch off. It’s often the ‘in-between’ moments of the day that give me some of my favourite photographs and also show the unique nature of each wedding.
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