A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS
Couples will always tell you: your wedding day goes by in the blink of an eye. So, when the vows are exchanged, the party has ended and everyone has gone home, the newlyweds’ cherished memories as documented by their trusted photographer are so important. This in-depth guide on how to capture a couple’s love on their special day covers everything from poses that work to perfectly timed candids. Western Australia Wedding and Bride’s Lucy Wadelton sits down with Terena Graziano – owner and director of Pascal Photography – to discuss just how crucial that perfect, authentic wedding shot really is.
Like the craft of photography itself, the practice of wedding photography has evolved throughout the centuries since the artform was invented in the early 1800s. When once wedding portraits were a luxury, defined by bulky equipment and non-smiling couples, the advancement in technology has allowed for wedding photography to grow into a lively documentation of true love. With photography commonplace at weddings, photographers can now capture the magic that is the candid image.
STRIKE A POSE
Hiring a photographer to document your wedding used to be an indulgence only shared by the upper class or royalty. Now, it is an essential element to every couple’s big day. Although camera phones are a staple of the modern age, guests are too busy having a wonderful time at your wedding to be properly documenting – and no iPhone quality can ever surpass that of an industry standard camera, at the hands of an experienced photographer. The merits of entrusting a professional wedding photographer goes beyond recording the day for the history books. It’s an opportunity to catch the moments you missed, or that flew by too quickly. Having a tangible keepsake of the wedding day allows you to relive the treasured memories for years to come. And, in a post-Covid world, ensures loved ones who missed out, get a glimpse at the magical celebration of you and your partner.
Wedding photographer and director of Pascal Photography, Terena Graziano believes it is the duty of the photographer to tell the couple’s love story with honesty and care. Often the ceremony is focused primarily on the couple, and the reception is more about the guests interacting with the newlyweds and with one another. A seasoned professional will know how to capture the couple’s unique dynamic without getting in the way of intimate moments. Graziano believes it’s imperative to take no interaction for granted, as “often the smallest intimate gesture can become the most powerful image”.
Historically, orchestrated photo shoots dominated the wedding photography industry. There is always a place for posed portraits, Graziano says. Photos of the bridal party, family or other group shots often require a bit of wrangling and that’s when the posed images truly shine. However, “I do put a major emphasis on candid photos,” Graziano admits. There’s a reason candid photography has become a highly sought-after wedding day choice made by couples. The candid trend allows a photographer to “capture as much raw emotion as possible”. Attesting to their popularity, Graziano believes candid photography is a favourite among couples because people “love the natural photos much more than the traditional posed formal ones”, which serve as a keepsake of an authentic moment in time.
LIGHTS, CAMERAS, ACTION!
On the technical side of things, Graziano has a plethora of tips and tricks up her sleeve. Her role on the day is primarily to “be ready with my camera and constantly scanning for moments to capture” and with the aid of a longer zoom lens, to walk around, keeping an eye out for “any opportunities to capture the emotions of those parts of the day”. And using zoom lenses is one of Graziano’s ultimate go to’s. “You can be a lot further away, meaning the subject is less likely to notice they are having a picture taken,” she says. The photographer also recommends avoiding flash photography as it can “easily interrupt a precious moment or make people self-conscious”.
As a rule, Graziano has two of everything on the day of the wedding. This means two cameras, backup flashes, lenses, batteries, and memory cards so that she’s “always prepare for any scenario”. She keeps her finger on the camera trigger, “ready to jump in when the opportunity arises without constantly having the camera aimed at people” because a moment is fleeting, unless immortalised on film.
The number one strategy Graziano employs is all in the positioning, she says. For interactions with high movement, the first dance for instance, Graziano advises a high shutter speed. To fully represent the newly married couple’s romantic dance, she often positions herself strategically. “I make sure that I have at least one other position that I can easily move to for a different angle,” she notes. This way, the couple have variety in their photos, close ups, and wide angled shots, to pick the perfect image.
Graziano describes her ideal photo opportunity as “that split second when a couple is so immersed in a shared moment that they actually forget the camera is there”. The perfect candid encapsulates the “pure emotion” of the newlyweds and is an instant money shot to look back on for years to come. Being able to sense the right moment is a skill Graziano has developed in her near fifteen years as a wedding photographer. Quietly observing both couple and guests during the ceremony and reception can lead to natural shots, Graziano tells us. “If people don’t notice me taking a photo, they are more likely to let me capture their natural emotion without becoming anxious or posing for the camera.” The photographer also attests that adopting a “fly-on-the-wall” approach does wonders, but there’s more to it than simply being a wallflower.
Building trust between a couple and their photographer before the big day can make all the difference to the photographic result. Graziano loves to cater the photo shoot experience to each individual or couple, which she often does by “having a chat and cracking a few jokes” while taking the photos. When it comes to couples who feel uncomfortable in front of the camera, Graziano puts their minds at ease by telling them “90 per cent of my couples get anxious so they aren’t alone!” Using small prompts or asking the couple questions can relax even the most camera-shy person. That could mean asking the couple how they met, a favourite shared memory, or even an embarrassing moment in their relationship. By encouraging couples to talk amongst themselves it can loosen any tension displayed on their faces and avoids the dreaded static posing. After Graziano shows the couple “one or two of the stunning photos I managed to capture, couples almost always feel the pressure lift and start to enjoy themselves.”
Ultimately, it is down to the chemistry between the couple and their photographer that makes the images really come to life. “When choosing your wedding photographer, the biggest tip I can give is to make sure their personality suits you,” Graziano explains. Of course, a photographer’s portfolio of images is important when deciding the editing or photographic style. However, as Graziano aptly puts it, “If a photographer isn’t able to connect with you and your partner to put you at ease, the whole experience could leave you with a bittersweet memory rather than something to cherish for decades to come.” And for this celebration of a lifetime, cherished memories are priceless.
Photo by: Pascal Photography