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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...

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Old November 26th, 2014, 05:29 PM   #1
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 1,149
Eye candy vs meaning

Some random thoughts...

A photographer I’ve worked a lot with openly tells us that he wants to make every wedding look glamorous and expensive. Now, you might like/dislike the intention, but I think there’s something unusual in the approach. Instead of just documenting the day, or documenting as well as searching for beauty or creative shots, now you’re trying to impose a layer of meaning, and you’re looking at everything from a particular point of view.

Similarly, in David Beckstead’s “Dynamic Wedding Photography”, Beckstead mentions that he thinks about mood, and increasingly he’s exploring adjectives like “melancholy, dark, sad, contrast, contemplative, meditative, warm, cold, harmonious, barren, mysterious”.

Now, when I read that, it really intrigued me.

Firstly, the idea could liberate you from happy snaps. You don’t have to keep saying, “Big smiles”, “Pretend you’re in love”, “Do a big, fake laugh", etc. You don’t need to have every shot about happiness.

Secondly, the idea could liberate from focusing too intently on the subject. Instead of framing for the bride, or the couple, and filling the frame with them, now you’re perhaps more inclined to think about the mood of the composition without people, and how adding people changes or complements it.

Thirdly, it’s a practical way to think about putting meaning into and bringing order to shots.

What I mean is… In a proper film, every movement is motivated and adds to story: you might circle around someone to emphasise their change in outlook, or you might dolly in to emphasise realisation.

In a wedding, in contrast, not only are most camera moves simply eye candy, and therefore feel superficial, as unsatisfying as eating icing alone, but it’s difficult to put meaning into shots even if you want to. It’s difficult to storyboard out the day. It’s difficult to take a hundred separate, random shots at a bride prep and have them all adding towards a larger whole.

But if you simply think in terms of putting mood into your shots, maybe that’s something that’s easier to get a grip on.

It’s a bit like music. The Australian director Tony Tilse -- when asked about how he’s able to shoot five scenes from five different episodes on the same day and keep each scene straight in his mind, he says one of his techniques is playing music in his head. If you assign a song to each scene, that keeps it clearer what you’re aiming at.

This is not a new trick. I think Hitchcock did something similar, having the score for a scene in mind before he shot it. Other directors actually play music.

Similarly, from a wedding shooter’s point of view: if you have music you’re going to edit to in mind, or there’s music actually playing, it’s easier for your camera move or composition to feel right, for you to feel like you know what you’re doing, rather than doing random eye candy for the hell of it.
Adrian Tan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 27th, 2014, 01:38 PM   #2
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Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Liverpool
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Re: Eye candy vs meaning

Really interesting thoughts - as always - Adrian.

Looking forward to hearing other people's responses too.
Craig McKenna is offline   Reply

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