The importance of having posed photos AND natural photos

February 16, 2021

There’s a reason why wedding cakes with different flavour tiers are so popular…

Decadent chocolate fudge, crumbly carrot, luscious lemon, exotic coconut, trad fruit and nut…

It’s hard to choose.

Each one is completely different and delicious in its own way.

And it’s the same with wedding photos.

There’s natural documentary pictures, classic group photos, romantic portraits, and all the little details.

And every photographer has their preferred genre.

A search for ‘UK wedding photographers’ will find purist documentary photographers who stress the importance of working hands-off, fine-art photographers who promise cute couple portraits and divine details, and traditionalists who rank group photos as the most important thing.

And you’re supposed to choose one.

How?!

Just how?!

Picking is impossible.

You want it all. The full works.

But it’s not that you’re indecisive, or demanding, or *gasp* a ‘Zilla.

You just believe they’re all valuable.

And you’re right.

In fact, it’s important to have it all.

Here’s why…

Wedding photography is so much more than wedding photography.

Wedding photos are family photos – that just happen to be taken at a wedding. They won’t only bring back memories of the day; they’ll also bring back people and personalities. And for future generations, they’re a link to ancestors, a journey into genealogy, and a way to experience the past.

Like my Aunty Ivy and Uncle Bob’s wedding album is for me…

It’s an unassuming A4ish card-bound book (not even half a centimetre thick), hole-punched and tied at the spine with white rope, and contains just seven photos. (About as far removed as you can get from the 300-image tome I created for a client earlier today.)

But open it… and the room fills with magic.

1940s documentary wedding photography

The photos are all posed – except for one. And that one? It makes me gasp. Out loud. It’s a snapshot of my adorable Aunty Ivy dashing from the church to the wedding car; everyone gathered around with umbrellas, hats and winter coats; on a dreary day in November 1946. Heck, it’s not even sharp. But I (the usually uber-critical photographer) don’t care. I adore it. The moment sprang to life, the atmosphere leapt off the page, and I feel how my Aunty felt. How potent and precious is that?

And then there’s my Nanny and Grandad’s wedding album. Same sort of style. And bar a couple of pictures with the wedding car and cutting the cake, it’s full of group photos and portraits. Which I love. I always find myself amused by the outfits, blown away at the size of the bouquets, and curious as to who I get my cheekbones from. (Nanny, I think.)

When I first saw those albums, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the group photos. And I wouldn’t be without the natural ones either. The posed pictures have a palpable air of history and highlight my heritage in a way that the natural photos don’t. But the natural pictures allow me to ‘be there’ in a way that the posed ones don’t.  

Getting knee-deep in nostalgia brings it home…

A versatile approach is important.

My work is largely documentary. But group photos and portraits (and even details) aren’t a cursory add-on. They’re an integral part of what I do.

Because the best thing I can do as a photographer is capture what I’d want as a client… A complete chronicle.

So, if you book me, you won’t have to choose.

You can have the lemon and the fruit and the carrot and the chocolate and the coffee and the coconut and the vanilla and the…

But there’s just one thing…

I’m not saying you should overindulge and stuff your day with every possible type of photo.

Like every good wedding cake, it’s important to get the proportions right. (She says whilst eyeing up the family bag of giant chocolate buttons…)

And you can read all about that in my next blog post – How to get gorgeous group photos and chic couple shots – without spending all day posing – which is coming later this week.