39 Photos That Have Had A Lasting Impact On These Photographers’ Lives
“Can you think of a certain photo that you took, that’s had some kind of lasting impact…perhaps that impact has been on your career, or your confidence, your direction, or just an image that’s just particularly memorable to you for some reason?”
That’s the question we asked our members recently (it’s something that we sometimes ask on our Podcast) – and what follows is an incredibly interesting and insightful read: 39 different photos from photographers all over the world, all of which have had some kind of lasting impact on them. They may be wedding images, or personal photos – even a couple of portraits are in here, which is a first from us! – but what they all have in common is their power to affect these photographers in some way.
“When you mentioned this, I knew exactly which image is the one for me. Taken 10 years ago, yet it still resonates with me so much.
A moment is everything, a split second captured for eternity. Nearly 10 years on, this moment still gives me goosebumps, and a lump in my throat. Lee, the groom, was a decorated RAF pilot who a year before had piloted this very helicopter over the stricken ferry Riverdance, which ran aground in a heavy storm in Morecambe Bay. In atrocious conditions, with the ferry listing and swaying heavily on the verge of capsize, Lee and his crew saved the lives of 23 people.
Lee didn’t know the RAF Sea King was due to fly past on his wedding day, but his wife Maggie did. The unforgettable sound echoed louder around the mountains, then there she was, hovering above the previously still waters of Talyllyn. The door opened, the winchman and crew saluted, then the Sea King performed a bow, before turning and roaring back up the valley, with the downdraft lifting and spraying droplets of the lake like rain. Then silence.
There is of course another connection and unbreakable bond here, with the unrelenting support of Lee’s wife Maggie, alongside the crew with whom he risked so much. So for me, this moment is everything, and to this day I am immensely proud to have been there to share it. Moments matter, and moments last.” – Robin
“This image was taken in 2016, during our 3rd wedding season. During our first two years as wedding photographers our main goal was to just do our best at every wedding, taking as many meaningful and beautiful pictures as we could. Our photographic style evolved a lot during those two years but without a defined objective. And that was actually a good thing because it allowed us to develop something that was purely ours, intuitively and almost unconsciously.
But then, in 2016 we gained a new consciousness and started to view our own work with more objective eyes and started to understand what we really liked in wedding photography and the path we wanted to take. We still wanted to create beautiful and meaningful images, obviously, but in a documentary way and including in one image all possible bits of each moment or story. This image marked somehow that transition, it was one of the firsts we took that we felt represented the style we wanted to follow from that year on.” – The Framers
“Actually I have my one very special image. All the story maybe sound cliche but … that’s how it was and that’s how I felt…and it was the moment when I decided to become a photographer.
I live in Barcelona since 2008, the year when my first son was born. Being a dad totally changed the way I see the world, life and time, which since then, passes by quicker and quicker. In 2010, while an early morning walk with my little boy, I experienced a very special dad-moment.
After a night at work as a bar manager and not more than 2 hours of sleep I had been woken up by my little son. In order to stay awake and let my wife sleep a bit more, I grabbed my camera and took him for a walk. The streets were totally empty. Only me, my son, the camera and his spoon, which, back then he was taking everywhere 🙂
A mix of tiredness, golden morning light and a strong sense of father’s pride shaped a very unique moment for me. Those few seconds taught me how important is to be present, mindful and focus on moments which really matters in our lives. Those precious moments happen in our day by day life and are so easy to miss if we rush too much.
Here I am. Many years after. Still shaping my skills and still with the same idea; I want to photograph people´s special moments. Moments that matter.” – Andrzej
“You know, there are those rare moments when we capture an image, and instantly something changes into us. In a fraction of a second, we find a long time looking answer. It happened to me back in 2014 when I captured my most outstanding image of all time for me, and significantly changed my view over wedding photography, I find my WHY!
My family and friends a lot of times say that I overthink. I couldn’t help myself, and I always ask WHY! WHY is a word that first comes to my mind for whatever I am doing. If you run into the same feelings, then you will understand what I am talking about. “WHY” can sometimes stop you, and a lot of times can help you achieve new goals or raise your awareness.
When I captured my “the perfect wedding photo” of that year, (my most famous photo ever), I realize that we do not capture just moments, love, portraits, etc. But we also catch simple, candid pictures of people which our clients – couples love! These photos will not get any awards or stand as standalone frames in some excellent blogs. But easily could be a big print on the wall of our clients or seating deeply into our hearts!
I capture with a single click on a wedding of my cousin, all my lovely ladies in my life, my mother, my two adorable daughters, my beautiful wife, my grandmother, and my aunt. The best gift we could give to our clients and us!” – Aleks
“The lost roll
In recognition of the newly founded This is Reportage: Family platform, I would like to share the story about this family picture with you. It shows my wife and my then 1-year-old son during our parental leave. The picture was taken with a 35mm film camera and when I went to pick up the negatives it was only at home that I noticed that they had been mixed up and I had another photographer’s holiday pictures in my hands (the photo index was mine though).
Weeks passed and the photo shop had no news about my missing negatives. When I finally got the call and was able to scan my pictures, I could hardly believe my eyes, as the picture represents the moment just as I experienced it, maybe not perfectly framed, but with a look that reminded me of medium format cameras and a beautiful Italian evening light.
This is the photograph I fought for weeks to get!” – Nathan
“21st May 2016 is the day my photography changed.
I had two world-class and internationally recognised multi-award-winning photographers, Gabriela Matei and Marius Tudor help me photograph this wedding in Surrey.
That day they opened my eyes up to a new way of seeing, a different way of approaching and photographing weddings, by observation, by our chats throughout the day and then through culling and editing the photos.
It helped me understand how I needed to improve 1% extra every wedding I photographed.” – Soven
“This is my wife, Donna, she ran a 10k race after injuring her back which resulted in having to undergo a spine fusion. Alongside this she was also suffering from a condition known as “hammer toe” which involves some really painful deformities in her feet (this was, allegedly, caused by wearing too small a shoe as a young child…grrrr)…she was/is amazing, her “Irish” tenacity and determination to finish this race was so inspiring. Shortly after this event she had to endure two foot reconstructions…spread over 4 operations….with another one still to come, thanks COVID-19, for delaying that.
Over the years this inner strength she has, has got me through some incredibly hard times, including redundancy at the age of 44, and my brush with cancer too. Her life is my life, and she really does make me…me.” – Philip
“This is a picture I took in 2017. It was the start for my way of wedding photography. Since that day I kept my pictures 100% real and I decided to remove all posed pictures from my website. I started to get even “closer” to the people than I did before. And I discovered a new mindset: Every moment counts.” – Tobias
“This photo was taken shortly after I decided that it was important to truly understand my clients. To really do a deep dive with them about what matters and to cover so much more than just the typical “photography questionnaire”. This photo is from one of the first couples I took through my current, extensive process, of getting to know my clients.
During our call we started talking about the church where the ceremony was to be held. We got into a deep discussion about why this church was so important to them, especially the bride. Not only did her parents get married in this church. But this was their family church they attended growing up. Sadly, the bride’s mother had passed years before. She mentioned to me though that everytime she was in that church she felt like her mom was there with her, that she was looking down on her.
Fast forward to the wedding day, I knew from actually getting to know my clients and what was important to them, that the photos of the bride and her dad walking into the church together were so much more important than any other photo during that time. I had the 2nd photographer document the processional while I stayed in the back of the church waiting for the bride and her father to enter. As the two of them opened the door to the church and walked in, the light from the door lit up the stained glass figure of the interior door frame. The stained glass figure that was looking down at them. I quickly scrambled backwards to get wide enough to include the stained glass figure in my composition. The split second I was able to get wide enough, the bride and her father looked at each other and smiled. I was only able to take this one frame before they started walking down the aisle.
Without truly understanding my couples this photo would have never happened because I wouldn’t have known just how important the stained glass figure was to the composition. After I took this image I teared up for the first time ever at a wedding because I knew what the photograph would mean to the bride and her family. This photo also showed me just how important it was to invest so much time into each and every couple to truly understand and know them before showing up on the wedding day. From that point forward in my career, I have done everything possible to truly know who my couples are as people and the stories that matter to them!
This is not an award winning photo. But it doesn’t matter. We aren’t hired to create award winning photos. We are hired to create truly documentary photographs that mean the world to our couples!” – JD
“I took this shot during the 2017 US presidential inauguration weekend in Washington DC. As protestors filled Franklin Square, raging against the newly elected American president and what he stands for, others were trying to make their way to celebrate the day in one out of many inaugural balls taking place around the city. I followed this couple as they walked through the crowd of protestors, knowing they were headed straight towards the riot control line up, located right outside The Washington Post building. I always felt that the impact in this photo lays in the body language, and what that tells us about politics, wealth, and distribution of power in America.” – Shlomi
“I have chosen a recent image, of my family, taken during lockdown. It shows Harrison and Hollie, in a scene of happy chaos that I know many parents will recognise from the past 12 weeks or so. Hollie is sitting at a computer editing – Harrison is in the background, wearing just a nappy. The image was taken during our all too brief ‘heatwave’. There are opposing angles of legs and struts of stools. These obscure yet frame the larger view, fragmenting the jumble of toys. It’s a domestic muddle and this is very much how life is at present.
But it’s not so much what this one moment meant to me – though I do love the image – more that it forms part of our family narrative over the past 3 to 4 months. This recent period has been a strange time for everyone. It has brought hardship to many and far worse to some. For me however, there is one great positive – that’s the unbroken time I’ve been able to spend with my family: Hollie, Harrison and his brother Xavi.
Throughout lockdown, Hollie and I have made sure there has always been a camera somewhere nearby. To begin with, we have had to force ourselves to document this time period. As wedding photographers seeing our 2020 calendar – once full of weddings we couldn’t wait to photograph – dwindle to being empty for the next 6 months, this was difficult to comprehend. Our natural inclination was to eschew our cameras, to pause documenting life. It was easy to become overwhelmed.
But over a matter of weeks, it became apparent that we needed to carry on documenting – for our children to look back on this time in the years to come; to see what it meant as our life took a pause away from the awful headlines of death after death.
I’ve captured many beautiful – though very ordinary – moments at home, since the beginning of March 2020. I’ve found myself photographing my family more than I have over the last 5 very busy years: there is now no excuse of ‘too much editing’ or ‘too much travelling’ to get in the way.
I became a professional photographer as I love photography. I choose to specialise in documentary wedding photography as shooting in a reportage style best represents the world in the way I want to depict it in my image making. Back at University, studying Fine Art, I spent my days making art in a way I thought I needed to – landscape photography, street photography, portraiture. But aside from this, I was always capturing the world around me – my friends, my family; I never stopped. At the time I didn’t see that these were the images that had real value. I never exhibited them. It took a great deal of time for me to realise that this was the way I needed to work. This then led to me documenting weddings in the same way as I would capture my life and the life around me. And all the moments I’m photographing right now, in all their apparent mundanity, are some of the most important that I will ever capture.” – Patrick
“This image was shot quite early on in my career, back in 2017. This wedding only came about as the original photographer had to cancel on the couple last minute as I seem to remember the photographer’s wife was about to give birth! I think the wedding was posted in a Facebook group and I jumped at the opportunity!
It was my first same sex wedding, and to be honest I wasn’t too sure what to expect, one thing it did make me realise during it was that moments are what truely matter, and has paved the way to my shooting style today. This wedding was so full of emotion – it was full on all day (which is a reportage photographer’s dream) often at weddings there is a lull. But not at this one. It was really hard to pick just one shot for this as there are SO many more I could have chosen!
Jen and Sam are just one of the nicest couples going, a wedding which has since helped me really focus on those all important wedding moments.” – James
“This was the turning point for me and my approach to wedding photography!
The bride gave her Grandad a hug straight after her wedding ceremony and I am so glad I captured the moment! The brides grandad had severe dementia and a week after I sent over the full gallery , the grandad passed away! The bride wrote to me say that although all of the photos were wonderful, this was her absolute favourite image from the entire set and couldn’t thank me enough for capturing it! From that moment I knew that although taking lovely portraits was important, it’s the moments and interaction between people that really count!” – Chris
“So, I`ll always remember Carla & Pauls wedding last year, as the couple were leading the there guests through the village after their church ceremony towards the reception, we were going over the green and obviously I’m shooting them doing their thing.
I`m completely oblivious until two rogue ( and angry ) ducks photo bombed the shots, definitely getting in my face as if I`d disturbed them. Crazy “once in a lifetime” moment for sure.
Defiant ducks.” – Chris
“This image here is particularly dear to me. Admittedly, it’s not a great image. But nonetheless it had on me the kind of impact that you were asking about.
I took this image 9 years ago, at my very first wedding as a paid photographer. I remember that day perfectly, as if it were yesterday. I had little previous experience at shooting weddings – only 2 or 3 of them as a second shooter. And now I was hired to shoot this huge wedding in a different city with 400+ guests, none of them I have ever met before (including the bride and groom). Plus it was a very intense wedding party, with a lot of artistic moments, a lot of musicians and dancers (some of them even famous) coming to perform in front of the guests. And I was the only photographer. I tried not to get intimidated or overwhelmed.
I’m particularly proud of the fact that, despite all the pressure, I took the time and liberty to experiment and do more than just the expected “safe” shots. With this image I did exactly that. It was shot during one of the artistic moments. The couple of dancers performed for 3 minutes or so, and about half of this time I tried to get a shot to capture the fast and gracious motion of the dancers. Since I have never tried anything like this before, I knew nothing about the technique (I found out later it’s called motion blur). It was a trial and error game: I had to adjust my shutter speed and aperture based on my instinct. I didn’t even know that I could have used a flash to freeze the dancers – so I didn’t use one. Needless to say – almost all of the images I shot during this experiment were pure garbage. But this one stood out, because it had everything that I wished for. It’s the only one I kept from the series.
And it taught me a valuable lesson. I learned that it’s ok to experiment, to try and do things differently, even if you’re not sure of the outcome. Yes, it’s hard work, and sometimes you may not be successful. But when you do, the satisfaction is huge.” – Mihai
“This image means so much to me. Not only do I love having been the one to have captured the moment – Zara the bride is a friend of mine, so it’s a wedding with extra resonance – it has become one of those images that people just seem to respond to; it’s also won many awards.
I shot the image at 1.4. The shallow aperture is perhaps unusual for a wide shot (I used a 24mm). But it really does pick Zara out as the focal point. She does a pretty good job of this herself of course – she is spectacular. She described herself on the day as looking like ‘the Statue of Liberty getting married’ and I think that gives a glimpse of Zara’s personality. Leaving aside Zara’s quip, I hope I’ve captured this in my image.
Zara and Alex’s wedding in Hull was one of my favourites of last year. They had just a few guests – a very intimate ceremony – but that didn’t matter at all. I found so much to ‘capture’ throughout the day. Looking back at such a beautifully intimate wedding feels particularly poignant right now, in July 2020.
After the ceremony, Alex and Zara went for a walk through the old town from the City Hall to Alex’s tattoo studio. We were walking and Alex fell a little behind us, so I ran ahead. As the City was eerily and unusually quiet, I was able to wait and isolate Zara within the middle of the road. In another second Alex would have been in the shot. Alex’s absences means there’s a feeling of unexpected drama, something about to happen. The splashes of white that the shops, phone boxes and the road add are visual echoes of Zara’s dress. However, the eye remains drawn to Zara and all her kinetic energy.” – Hollie
“Been thinking a lot about different photos and reasons why they were important or memorable. But all this time I was coming back to this photo of Liz and her father walking her down the aisle.
Liz & Gareth were my ideal couple from beginning, now we are friends! They wanted absolutely pose-free, relaxed wedding day. At the time of booking I was slightly nervous as up until then I worked a lot with more traditional photographers but really wanted to move to pure documentary style. Just before Mr Cartlidge (Liz’s dad) went to se her, he came up to me and said how much the couple and him has fallen in love with pre-wedding photos I have taken. I felt huge pressure then to deliver perfect images for them and the dad of course. Little but BIG reminder that when we photograph weddings, it is not only for bride and groom.
I lost my dad few months prior this wedding and whilst I was editing I realised how that affected my approach and how many photos I have taken of Liz and her Dad. I heard from photographers that personal experience often affect how we shoot or what we shoot, but until then I haven’t realised my father’s death affected my photography.
Only not long ago I have blogged this wedding which after Liz’s Dad asked for hard copy of it as he wanted to have it framed & hanged on the wall. Ever since I take even more care to create unique and personal storytelling images not only for the couple but for whole family.” – Janina
“This photo wasn’t supposed to happen. The ceremony was in a dark castle (Hedingham in Essex) in late November, with a 3.30pm ceremony and the light and weather firmly against me. It wasn’t the best of planned weddings and I had stepped in to cover at short notice as the original tog bailed on it for reasons I can only speculate. The couple were shy, but very trusting of myself and my Second Shooter and just let us get on with the day without interfering, but the lighting challenges throughout the day were significant.
I knew there would be confetti but had no idea where and when, and with a near gale blowing with rain, the couple and their guests were running in increasing darkness from the castle to the marquee and I could see guests with confetti about to launch it. I had prepped my Second Shooter with an Octabox for this, and instructed them to hold it above them as best they could. I stuck a damp finger in the air to guess settings in a split second and fired a few exposures whilst running backwards trying not to trip over anyone/ anything whilst carrying my camera bag on one shoulder.
Whilst not an award winning image by any stretch with fairly flat lighting, the fact that I was able to get anything half decent in such conditions, under such pressure, gave me confidence that I could do this job. Properly.
I look back at it now 2 and a half years later if I ever doubt myself and my skills, and ability to produce under pressure.” – Rafe
“Portrait – shot at college in Rome around 1988
This portrait was shot during a class when I was at college in Rome, at the Isituto Europeo di Design. The old man was just some old guy that came in to the class to sit for us all. The camera was on a tripod, it was probably an RZ67 if I remember correctly. Every member of the class had to go up to the camera, take a portrait shot, just one frame I seem to remember. When it got to my turn, my teacher Giovanni Canitano, one of Rome’s top photographers of the time changed the lens on the camera. Everybody had been shooting with the 180mm (a portrait lens – approx 85mm if I remember correctly on a 6×7). But he changed it to the 127mm lens instead (I seem to remember this was around a 50mm equivalent). I was a bit annoyed if I’m honest. It’s a bit like kicking you in the shins before you have to to a run. He knew I had potential to be a good photographer. He was a good friend at the time and guided me really well through college. But even so, I knew this was a challenge. So, I moved the light slightly to my taste, I may have had to move the camera a bit closer (can’t remember), I waited for my moment, then I took my shot.
It was later in class, after we’d all printed our photos ourselves in the darkroom then laid them all out on the floor, that something suddenly struck me profoundly. Nobody’s portraits looked like mine. It may sound slightly big headed, but out of around 30 students, 28 of the portraits were just so boring. They had nothing going for them in the least. There was maybe one other one that was semi interesting. But mine stood out a mile from anyone else’s. What is it that some photographers have, that their images just shine out in a special way. I’ve long held the belief that you can teach anyone to become a better photographer. But there’s also something innate in some people that makes them see the world differently. When they click that shutter, there is something special happening that you cannot teach. I haven’t see this photo in quite a few years. I had to dig it out of my loft. It’s a print around 14×11 printed on Agfa Record Rapid. The most beautiful photo paper ever made in my humble option. Pity they banned it because of all the horrible chemicals in it 🙂 When I photographed it today, so that I could digitise it and send it over to Alan at This is Reportage, I’m amazed how strong a portrait it still is.
That day, I realised that I had something that my other photographers didn’t have. I had an inbuilt talent to take amazing photos, and my images were different. Special. They stood out from the crowd. I knew that my chances of becoming a working photographer and having something unique to sell had just increased massively. That was 32 years ago. Having been a working professional now for 26 years, it seems to be going ok.” – Paul
“Sleeping best man! Why is this picture special to me? This is actually my oldest best friend; I have known him for at least 35 years. This was taken at another best friend’s wedding who I’ve also known for a good 30 years so I was privileged to be asked to be his wedding photographer (no pressure).
The chap asleep was actually the best man and to say he was worried about his speech was an understatement, he worried so much that he couldn’t even enjoy his cooked breakfast, he couldn’t drink all for his nervousness and was generally a bag of nerves!
After his speech (which he nailed)!!!! It was time to play catch up, so he got some serious drinking done.
It was 1:33am and everyone was sitting around the piano singing “Hey Jude” (it goes on a bit) and I glanced around the room and then I noticed him clutching his wife’s bag. At first, I took a quick snapshot, but then I recomposed when I saw the too dogs watching over him and that made the picture.
To me it means everything as it brings back so many memories of some of my best friends.
It also won a Fearless and Reportage Award which gives me another reason to like it ?” – John
“2015 was a difficult year for me personally and I intentionally took less weddings that year to enable myself the breathing space to deal with some personal loss & grief. Although I always build a relationship with my couples and love working with them, from the first email and phone call I was so excited to be booked by Elle and Ben, it was a huge turning point for me in photography, because right from the start they honestly believed more in me than I could ever believe in myself and working with them allowed me to grow into the photographer that I had wanted to be for such a long time. I always believe we are constantly a ‘work in progress’ and the learning and growing never ends, but for me this day I came home so full of gratitude that my love of photography could be my job and I felt like I was exactly where I wanted to be and that if I wanted to take it further it was totally possible.
If the concept of ‘ideal client exists’ then they are mine and have been blessed to photograph their growing family on three occasions now and it is lovely to know that people feel comfortable with me and my camera enough to ask me back to photograph their children and to see such a personal journey in their lives. It makes every bit of this year bearable to know I have people like them backing my business and encouraging me to grow and continue doing my best.” – Helen
“In 2018 I took Alan’s (TiR founder’s) workshop, it was my very first photography workshop and although I had been shooting part time for 6 years at this point, I lacked so much confidence and had very little self belief. One of the many bits of wonderful advice he gave was to not be afraid to enter your work into competitions. Until that point I had never thought about entering competitions, I didn’t believe my work was strong enough and it felt like something ‘proper’ photographers did.
A few months later my son came down with an impressive dose of chickenpox and as I had done with most of his life, I documented it. Although it was an unpleasant time for us I found something truly beautiful about how the infection spread around his little body.
One of the images really stood out and with Alan’s words ringing in my ears I decided to look at what competitions I could enter it into. Roll forward 6 months and this image of my son hung in The National Portrait Gallery as part of the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize. A photo I created, of the boy, I created, in the National bloody Portrait Gallery!!
This achievement still blows my mind. It’s actually really hard to articulate just what this did for my confidence as a photographer. I felt like I was catapulted to a level were I needed to view my work more seriously, since then I have won a number of different wedding photography awards and I no longer view my business and work as insignificant.” – Erica
“Flower girl twirling in Carton House
Wedding mornings are always a great time for photos. There’s lots of activity happening with family members, bridemaids, flowergirls, hair and make-up, and hotel wedding coordinator coming and going. With everything going on it’s a perfect time to capture lots of natural reportage photos. As it’s so busy, you likely won’t even think of being photographed, so it’s perfect if you are in any way camera shy!
This photo looks like a painting to me. It’s timeless. The flower-girl on the left admires her bouquet while in the background the painting behind her looks down with a very similar expression. In the background the bride’s father is hidden by the billowing net curtain. My main subject, the flower-girl in front is joyfully spinning. To me there is an ephemeral feel as she’s bathed in window light.
I love this photo – I took it in Carton House in Kildare, Ireland. The flower-girls were finishing getting ready while their Mum, the bride was in the next room. As is frequently the case there is only a split second to capture the moment. During every wedding I look at light and composition. I’m waiting for the perfect time to press the shutter and when it comes together it’s magic.” – Tadhg
“This would have been a powerful image if I had taken it for one of my couples. The start of a new life with so many hopes and dreams ahead, it’s such an intimate and unique moment. But not this time! This is my daughter getting born, which makes it a lot more powerful to me.
The relevance of this picture isn’t purely sentimental though. I had been shifting my photographic style for a couple of years prior, into a more “no poses, nothing staged” reportage approach. With that in mind I took the camera with me to the maternity and was set on capturing the day (truly the most important day of my life), through my eyes.
For the first time I want to try to be invisible as I captured all around me. After I took this picture I was shaking with excitement and I remember clearly that my priority was to copy that picture to the computer and make several backups. After all, this is THE picture that I could not lose. It’s also the picture that made me realize first hand the importance of catching the right moment – and the reason to stay away from staged moments.” – Joao
“This shot for me shows the first time when a number of things came together in one image. When looking at really strong images of colleagues that inspire me, I often find that they have something in common: The images have something unexpected and something that confuses me a bit or makes me wonder.
This shot was taken in one of the first weddings where I allowed myself to experiment during reportage moments with going for unconventional compositions. I loved the fact that there was one quite eccentric bald girl, amidst all the women whose hair was being styled, so I knew I wanted to do something with that contrast. Then the moment came when both the two women and the hair stylist are laughing out loud, but because the face of the bald girl is not shown it makes the viewer wonder: “Why are they laughing?” “Is this the back of the head of the bride?” “Are they laughing at the bride?” etc…
That in combination with the strong colors and that the heads are not touching one another made me feel that this image was really strong and encouraged me to experiment more during weddings with finding these kinds of angles that leave the viewer confused as to what is truly going on.” – Marnix
“This image was captured in 2012 in Palos Verdes, California at the Terranea Resort. This was an outdoor wedding on a beautiful cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Right before I left for the afternoon, the bridesmaids encouraged the bride to toss her bouquet. The only ladies to participate were the six bridesmaids and another guest in a white dress.
Ever since I fell in love with documentary photography, inspired by Henri Cartier-Bresson’s famous expression “the decisive moment,” I have breathed that phrase like a mantra whenever I photograph weddings. This image is the closest I feel I’ve ever come to perfection!
To me, all the elements came together magically for this capture. Your eye goes directly to the bouquet in the air. So many elements point you to it, the outstretched arms, the direction of the ladies’ faces, including the bride and flower girl, and even the fingertips of the bride’s left hand. So many elements are wonderful to me in this composition. I love that the flower girl is framed by the bride’s arms and body. I love the setting with the vast Pacific Ocean horizon behind the scene and the clouds in the sky. It’s as if the bouquet for this split moment is one with them.
But what puts me in awe of the capture, something I did not realize was happening when capturing it, is how the lady in white is perfectly in the center of the bridesmaids as they all are reaching up to catch the bouquet. Her face is the only one in the crowd not blocked by outstretched arms. With the bouquet directly over her, you get the impression, that no doubt, the bouquet will land in her arms…(and it did!).” – Ray
“When you mentioned an impactful image this one came to mind straight away. It’s an image we took that very much changed our direction a little bit. We realised how important it was to capture those moments as they happened, for longevity as well as the immediate impact.
This was the brides dad in the middle (mum to the left) who had recently found out he was quite far along with a rigorous cancer. It was a shock to everyone and they found out a couple of weeks before the wedding day. He had a scan the following day (after the wedding day) where he was finding out basically how far it had spread, and all in all “how long he had left”. He was terrified, as was everyone.
The wedding was amazing, but the emotions for both the event itself and this impending scan were charged high. It turns out the news was good at the time, the day after – thankfully. After this, this kind of image is always in the back of our minds as we hunt for those moments to capture during a wedding day! That frame could be one that lives an entire life with someone as they remember those closest to them, especially the further along time goes – the more valuable those moments become.” – Daniel
“It’s so meaningful for me as it resonates with me having a daughter too. I often think of her wedding day and what hers will be like. I’ve found more and more I’m capturing images of little ones at weddings and this image made me think of Chloe (my daughter.)
This image sticks with me as the little one became the star of the day walking her mum down the aisle. it’s resonated so much with her mum Emma too. It’s one of her favourites from the wedding as I’ve captured her essence of being fun and playful and a little mischievous. It resonates how important the documentary side of our job is to capture moments of all our loved ones for the ages.” – Phil
“This photograph in particular has a lot of meaning for us. It was one of the very first Destination Weddings taken by our studio. She was a very sunny and nice bride and her joy was like a hug for everyone. When I took this wedding I realized that I really liked to tell people in a totally real way.
In the months preceding this wedding we had done a storytelling course where we talked a lot about reportage together with the masters. This allowed me to see a world that went beyond my small country where I was born and raised. I will always be grateful to these spouses and to this wedding and the thrill of the explosion of joy of this particular shot.” – Elisa
“I took this image literally moments after my wife had been through a 24-hour labour with our son Arthur. Although extremely tough on her, for me it had been more of an emotional rollercoaster of feeling utterly helpless one moment to utter joy when he was born into the world.
Looking at the image always brings strong emotion back to me, poignant elation especially with my wife’s tearful look of relief, but then the feeling of responsibility and almost fear that I had a child that depended on me utterly. Being a photographer had always felt like a very fun and relatively easy lifestyle but having a child added a whole new dimension that I had to make this work for him.
I have this photo on my office wall to remind me that while it’s ok to fail, I need to get back up, keep trying and hopefully, that makes me a better person all round.” – Lee
“So this photo is one of my longstanding favourites. It’s a shot at a wedding but not of a wedding – I was outside waiting for the bride to get out of the car – in this case the A Team van – and this guy just whizzes past on his mobility scooter and I thought it was hilarious and got a shot. It turned out the bride actually knew him he was an old family friend and loved the photo. it also really got me thinking about taking more off the wall shots as you never know what you might catch and even better it won me an award at the NI Press Photographers Association awards that year too. It never fails to make me smile and at the end of the day thats what a gerat photo should do!” – Carrie
“If I had only one image to keep of my wedding photographic work, it would be without any hesitation this one. It represents all that I like in the wedding photo: the moment of course with the emotion but also the context and by understanding/analyzing it, we detect the strength/power of this unique day where things that never happen can happen.
When you can understand the context in a single image, you can understand the mechanics.
What? At first glance, one can guess that it is a religious ceremony. Is it a baptism, a wedding, a funeral, a communion? Looking more closely at the front row, we see children of honor who seem to be dressed the same way: no doubt, this is a wedding.
When and where? At the wedding, of course, this is the religious ceremony, in a church.
Who? You can’t really guess who it is if you don’t analyze the image. These are protagonists located in the first row (well, in the second since the first, there are the children of honor); there are two couples. Okay, these are the parents of the newlyweds.
Why? The moment of course: two of the parents laugh!
The power of a wedding day.
This image speaks to me a lot because it undoubtedly made me understand that the importance, on a wedding day, was not focused only on the bride and groom but also on the relationships of other people with the bride and groom but also between them. The mechanics of a wedding speak about relationships between different people. Here, if we really analyse the picture, it would be easy to guess that the two laughing people are the father of the bride and the mother of the groom. On the far left, the mother of the bride has a touching look; on the right, the father of the groom is attentive; and in the middle, the other two can’t contain their laughter. I especially like to observe the bond between a father and his daughter and between a mother and his son. These two protagonists are often torn between the happiness of seeing their child getting married and the heartbreak of having to let their child go. There is a posture to adopt on this special day. And in circles where religion is important, this posture is often accentuated by the weight of traditions.
Here, the moment is so intense that these two parents cannot hold back their laughter. It’s the magic of a wedding to me. We feel emotions and we can not hide them: it’s about life.” – Patrick
“Children often seem on the periphery at a wedding – but not in a negative sense. In fact, look closer and you will see they are suddenly given freedom. The adults can be preoccupied with fun and emotion and kids seem to realise they have been handed a golden ticket! A free pass to run around and explore. Normally children are reminded of the rules, watched for very second. But at weddings, you often see them making new friends, exploring and playing. In fact, they are often having a great adventure.
When composing this image, I was struck by these two, taking time out from exhausting play in the summer heat. They seemed lost in their own carefree world of imagination and games. This was just a pause in a golden afternoon of play, whilst the grown-ups had their own fun.
As a wedding photographer, you get to observe these little moments. These escapes from routine and the everyday. There is such escapism within every wedding. Everyone escapes in their own way. Music, dancing, food, drink and laughter. Catching up with old friends and family not seen in so long. Remembering bygone days of foolish youth. Children, they just seem to revel in the chance to escape and explore. Even for the briefest of moments away from the caring but of course controlling eyes of parents and grown ups. I felt this image encapsulated that feeling of childhood escapism.” – Matt
“I love this picture very much. The bride is a childhood friend of mine, she was pregnant for her wedding and asked me to visit her sweet grandmother. Attending this scene moved me, and made me think back to when we fantasized about the future as children. I got excited with her and it’s one of my most successful photos. The contrast between their happiness and the loneliness of the lady in the foreground makes this moment of reportage more intense.” – Simona
“Gent street festival July 2019.
2019 was a pretty pivotal year for me. It was the year where everything kind of started to fall into place on a photography level. This picture was taken just before I went full time and this picture was one of those pictures that was a bit of eureka moment.
I am a colour photographer I look at the world in colour and try to find interesting patterns in scenes. But that’s a lot easier said than done.
I love complex and striking compositions. The work of Sam Abell is work I’m particularly fond of. I love his compositions. Sometimes they are very striking compostions but consist subtle elements that just balance out so well.
At conferences people always go on about riding the ‘moment curve’. How a documentary scene unfolds and goes on, has a peak and fades away. And that every single part of that curve entails photographic potential. On a good day I am as calm and composed as a golden retriever and his shiny red ball so, I hadn’t surfed that wave very often…
Well for me this picture is the collision of those elements coming together in one shot. I started photographing the girl on the right because the girl had a striking red and blue outfit. The composition was not good and going portrait didn’t make any sense either. But taking a couple of steps back while shooting, opened up the potential of the composition. The repetition of red and blue elements to the left caught my eye and I kept shooting. The shopkeeper got a ladder, and another couple entered the scene on the right. More and more elements fell into place. The couple on the right stood there nicely enjoying some street food.
As a photographer you start to feel an excitement bubble up. I could feel the potential of a great shot arise, but something was missing in the center of the scene. And then I realized, well this is the ‘moment curve’ they are all going on about, now you have to wait and keep shooting.
In a matter of seconds, the scene became cluttered by people passing in and out of the frame but then all of a sudden like the eye of a storm it calmed down. A new couple stopped in the middle to get something out of the shop, a quick kiss and they each went their own way. And that was the picture.
This shot was pivotal because it showed me that building a good composition is not always about getting really close but more about judging the right distance. Finding repetition in elements and colour and cleaning up an image by getting every subject in their own little compartment to make a shot legible, balanced and pleasing to the eye.
And last but not least experiencing the feeling of the arising potential of a scene, being at the right place at the right time and just riding the wave of the moment curve and getting the shot. The way I look at the world as a photographer changed forever in a matter of minutes.” – Simon
“This is the image that I love the most and that has had a lasting image on me, especially at this special time.
This moment of pure happiness between this bride and her Granny is something that just melts my heart every single time I look at it. I have never seen a woman like this Granny. The love she had for her grandchildren and the joy she had in watching her get married. She was on the dancefloor in her wheelchair when I left. But these are the moments I adore when it comes to my job. This photo is cherished by both, and it grows in value with every moment that passes. Is it perfectly lit or composed or particularly artistic? Nope. But it has every bit of emotion from this day. This is what I look back on every time I doubt myself or what I do, because capturing love is the biggest privilege.” – Lauren
“Here’s my image. I call it ‘There’s a storm brewing’.
It was taken on Brighton seafront in the UK, the incoming storm clouds were magnificent as we neared the end of the shoot. It was actually my first outdoor shoot using OCF’s (eep!) with a model friend, Emily Bunclark (www.instagram.com/emilybunclark), wearing a charity shop wedding dress I picked up a few months earlier. It cost me £20 and it’s pretty indestructible and probably highly flammable!
When Coronavirus arrived and weddings started to be cancelled, this image immediately popped into my head as I could feel the wave of sorrow from couples having to postpone their meticulously planned weddings. I feel this image encapsulates how they might be feeling. That then gave me a creative idea using the same charity shop wedding dress for a shutdown series during lockdown. I’ve done a series of self portraits using the same dress and my Fujifilm remote app, which has keep my creative juices flowing! The full series can be viewed here: www.instagram.com/lesleyburdettphotography.” – Lesley
“This image is taken a few years ago just after the ceremony. It’s between the groom and grooms father. The reason why this particular image has had an impact on me is because as soon as I’d taken it, it made me realise my “why” I do what I do – a question which I’d struggled a little in the past with. It’s given me so much better focus and in particular how I market my business. By understanding and knowing my why, I don’t feel too pressured when I am not seeing creative opportunities. There is nothing particularly creative and clever about this shot – some might argue that the dad looking at me takes the “reportage” out of the image. I’d like to think it adds to the image and in particular shows the connection between father and son.
This image made it all the way to the final of the 2018 Ninedots gathering print competition – I was blown away by that and handed the A4 framed print to the groom a week later. We have the best job in the world :)” – Barry
“The image that really ignited my passion and my presence in the wedding photography world was this image. It was the first image I ‘planned’ (as in, I anticipated what might happen and thought about where to stand) and prepared myself for something great.
However as most photographers will know, there are many moments where you think something is going to happen and it doesn’t work out how you thought. In this case, the situation far exceeded my expectation and the resulting image had much more of an impact than I ever could have imagined. I wrote a BTS article about this image for TiR here.” – Ash
Thanks so much to the photographers who contributed to this piece! You can find out more about each photographer and view more of their work by following their This is Reportage profile or website links above.
Are you interested in joining us? The deadline for our next round of Awards – Collection 16 – is 23:59 BST on 24th July 2020. Members receive an unlimited number of images on your profile, 60 Reportage Award and 18 Story Award entries per year, and much more…
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