To Smile or not to Smile

I can remember a long time ago in a galaxy far away, well perhaps not that long ago really.
I was getting married and feeling worried that I wouldn’t be able to smile at all. As it turned out I couldn’t stop smiling and by the end of the day my face hurt. The fact is all my worries were unnecessary and everything was fine apart from my face pain which passed quickly.

As a photographer I aim to capture images during a wedding that cover the whole emotional spectrum smiles, happy tears and everything in between.  I love to see genuine emotion and a connection between the bride and groom that is not posed or forced, but completely natural.  These are the special moments that can can be gone in seconds.  Sometimes it’s the groom who gets so caught up in the moment that his emotion pours out. The bride looks on with love in her eyes. Sometimes it may be the other way round but surprisingly it’s not uncommon for the bride to be the one who holds it together and even supports a bridesmaid who gets overcome with emotion. What’s important is the moment, the camera is forgotten and the emotion and connection is natural and genuine.

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When a couple are posing they may both be smiling or may just look relaxed and comfortable. For some people a big smile comes naturally but for others their face conveys something else such as warmth, confidence or contentment.  The bottom line for me is that a big smile is not necessary in every shot.  Look at magazines to get a feel for what works really well.  It’s fair to say that this particularly relates to contemporary images that can capture a beautiful mood and strong sense emotion without big smiles.

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To illustrate this point I recently covered a wedding for a lovely couple and after the shoot the bride was particularly looking for shots where the groom was smiling.  For her this was very important and she was far less interested in any images where he was not showing his teeth.   The lesson I learned from this was to add one more question to those I already ask when talking to couples about their wedding day photography. Having covered weddings for years you think you have see and discussed every aspect of what is required but we all have something to learn.  My aim is to give couples images that they want and not images that I think they should have.

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At the end of the day all wedding shoots end up featuring happy couples and there will always be plenty of smiling faces 🙂 As well as those slightly different but equally important images with other expressions.