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This Is How: ‘Wedding Storm’ by Ray Anthony Iavasile

Delighted to have a new ‘This is How…’ feature on the site today, with US-based TiR member Ray Anthony Iavasile taking us behind the scenes of this brilliant rainy wedding capture. Ray’s piece is a real masterclass in composition – so much great advice here!

As a documentary wedding photographer, I always look to find a composition that enhances the moment. There are times when photographing a tight close-up on an emotional face is the most powerful composition at a specific moment. There are other times when including the surrounding setting best tells the story and a wider angle lens is needed. In my opinion, a wide-angle lens requires the most forethought, because the subject of your photograph is a small part of the overall image.

One problem I had early in my career when using a wide angle lens was that I had a tendency to always frame the subject in the center of the viewfinder, and ignore the other four corners of the frame. In other words, I would ignore the background. I would capture the action of the subject, but I would overlook the background setting as if it had little importance to the overall image. This often resulted in a sloppy composition that distracted the viewer’s eye from the subject. A mentor of mine once critiqued my images and told me that it was obvious to him that I chased my subjects. He explained to me that I needed to learn to anticipate the moment better than I was. Over time, I began looking for compositional elements, like line, shape, color, value, texture, form, and space in the vicinity of my subject, compose my potential image and then wait for my subject to walk into the frame.

This approach basically describes my thinking and anticipation when I photographed this image. I was walking toward the door to leave the church with the couple and their wedding party. Within seconds before walking outside, a hailstorm suddenly came pouring down and we all stopped in surprise to the unsuspected weather. Fortunately, the church had extra umbrellas right by the door. As the umbrellas were being handed out, I recognized that the repetitive shapes, one following the next, might make an interesting composition. I raced out the door into the falling hailstorm about 30 seconds ahead of the wedding party to find this angle. I liked the interesting lines and shapes from the church architecture to contrast with the familiar umbrella shapes. I pre-composed my camera using the rule of thirds and waited for the wedding party to march through the bottom of the frame. The hail is clearly seen against the contrasting black of the umbrellas and tuxedos, stopped by the shutter and forever describing this iconic moment. I love that the bride and groom’s laughing faces are the only ones not hidden behind the umbrellas which perfectly described their feelings at that precise moment: stepping into their future as husband and wife, nothing will overpower their marital bliss!

You can see more of Ray’s work on his website, or here on his This is Reportage profile.

We also have lots more documentary wedding photography tips by our members.

Aga Tomaszek

Adam Johnson - ARJ Photography

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