This Is How: ‘Tuning into Emotion’ by Alex Miller
Having lost my own father shortly after getting married myself, I’m particularly sensitive to any parent / child moments at weddings.
After the first dance, Louise’s dad joined her on the dance floor and it was a moment I really wanted to capture well for them both. Empathy is such an important quality for a wedding photographer to have and I believe that trying to identify with how others might be feeling on a wedding day can only ever lead to good things.
I usually start off shooting first dances with a wide lens (35/24) to set the overall scene and these days it’s not uncommon for first dances to be quite fast and for couples to move around a lot, so it’s far easier to capture that on something like the 35mm. But if the first dance is slow and the couple are close together I love the intimacy of a tighter crop with a longer lens like the 85mm which really helps to isolate the couple. That’s the feeling I wanted in this shot and so that’s what I used.
The ambient light in the room was not great. Dim, directionless and very purple (as can be seen in the background). I wanted to try to get a decent skin tone, so I decided to kill a lot of the purple ambient light with my camera settings and then I cross lit the dance floor and made sure that I angled the rim light to throw a bit of light onto anyone standing in the background. My settings were ISO 800, f2.8, 1/250th.
After taking a few shots of Louise and her dad I noticed the three bridesmaids, including Louise’s sister, in the background with their arms locked round each other having a moment, so I shifted focus onto them. The girls had been great fun all day and I knew they were all especially close so I was really pleased to get a shot like this of them together. I decide to wait a bit longer to see what would happen and soon after, Louise looked over her dad’s shoulder at them and I imagine that’s what set the tears flowing and produced this image. What I love about the shot is that there’s an emotional connection between everyone in the frame – Louise, her dad, bridesmaids and sister.
Every time I’m working hard trying to capture a moment like this, I’m mindful of my own wedding and how I would just love to have that one photo that meant the world to me. I’m so happy Louise got to enjoy such a special moment with her father and I’m pretty sure everyone else at the wedding knew just how much it meant too.
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