This Is How: ‘Four Funky Ladies’ by Sophie Callewaert
Delighted to have Sophie Callewaert on the site today, telling us all about this Reportage Award-winning capture from Collection Seven. Great insights into observation, getting up close, composition, editing, and just why this image is so important in terms of Sophie’s documentary direction; thanks so much, Sophie!
You know how you are drawn to certain people during a wedding day? They are usually individuals with an exceptionally expressive face, or they are a bit quirky, or mysterious, or they generally just have some way about them that you find utterly fascinating. You end up keeping a close eye on them all day long, because you know it’s usually these people who are going to give you a memorable moment to capture. The lady on the right is the groom’s mom and the two women next to her are her sisters, so not only are they very spontaneous people and potentially the subjects of a good photo, they are also some of the most important guests at the wedding.
The couple’s friends had made a video for them and the venue was packed. Squeezed in like a little sardine kind of packed. Usually I’ll go and sit directly in front of the couple and focus on their expression and try and include the people around them in the same frame. This time there was no way for me to squeeze in front of them. I managed to get a couple of wide shots with the couple in it, but quickly had to find someone else to photograph. So that’s when I looked for the other VIP’s in the room and saw these ladies cracking up. I decided to stick with them.
I was really close to the ladies, shooting on a 35mm with a bounce flash. My back was pressed up against the people behind me and because I’m right up in their face, it really feels like you’re a part of the action.
They had two screens up to show the video, so it just worked out really well that two of the ladies were looking left and two were looking right, which creates a kind of mirror effect. I opted for black and white to emphasize the repetition and prevent people from getting distracted by the colours of the dresses and overhead lights.
This photo is about two years old and it is the first photo I ever took that gave me a clear feeling of ‘these are exactly the kind of wedding photos I want to be taking’.
This photo is far from perfect. Actually, it’s completely chaotic and I even had to do a weird crop on the right, because I didn’t manage to capture the lady on the right’s pointing finger in the frame. But in the end, it is this photo’s sheer messiness and chaos that pulls you in and keeps you interested. The composition is totally illogical and makes it difficult for you to rest your eyes. There’s no way out, your eye bounces left, right, up and down. But, somehow, it works.
Taking this photo marked the start of my love for documentary work and moments like these are what I have been looking for in every wedding ever since.
Thanks so much to Sophie for this piece; you can see more of her work on her website, of here on her This is Reportage profile (where members can show an unlimited number of images/Stories).
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