Confetti....I've seen a lot
Most weddings have it, although not all, I shot one wedding that had a parade of bubbles instead, but it's fair to say that the majority do
The history of the tradition is quite interesting, originating in Italy where they threw petals, grain or rice over the newly-weds to bestow prosperity and fertility on them. In more recent times it was paper confetti that we threw in this country and it's still very common that 'Grandma Joan' or 'Great Aunt Bess' will have a box of paper confetti, secreted in their handbag, ready for the opportunity to scatter it over the happy couple!
But these days, led by a requirement from most churches and venues that it must be biodegradable, it tends to be petals. Large petals, small petals, they're normally handed out in little cones to the guests when it's time to honour this tradition
This image is from a wedding in Birmingham, where the ceremony was at the amazing Library of Birmingham followed by a walk to the reception venue at The Distillery, alongside the canal.
It's a really cool venue with a working gin still upstairs, which is where the reception was going to take place. Sophie & Dan decided that they wanted to have confetti thrown as they made their entrance, up the staircase, with their guests standing around the balcony overlooking them.
Now, when I say that they provided a lot of confetti for their guests, I mean they provided A LOT of confetti for their guests!! This is one of the containers from which their guests were able to help themselves to handfuls of the stuff!
As is often the case when you're a documentary wedding photographer, you know that a certain event is about to happen but have to think about the best way to capture it. To begin with , I was standing on a chair near the top of the stairs, guests on either side of me. I had one of my cameras in my hand with a wide-angle lens, ready for when they arrived and the confetti throwing started.
There are so many of these moments during the day that you anticipate, prepare for, but often just have to trust your instinct when it actually arrives. Whether it's the arrival of the Bride, the first kiss, the reaction of a guest to something said during the speeches, or in this case the confetti, anticipate, prepare, then just go for it!!
In a situation like this, it helps to visualise the scene, to picture them making their ascent, trying to imagine what will be in the shot. So that's why I was standing on my chair, finger poised on the trigger.....then the newlyweds arrived.......hands started to open....confetti started to fall.........arrgghh.....I'm in the wrong place!!
As soon as I saw them through my viewfinder I knew this wasn't the best place to capture the moment for them, I needed to be in the action, not giving them a birds-eye view. So I jumped down from my chair, squeezed through the throng of guests and dashed down the steps towards the advancing couple, at the same time grabbing my other camera (I always work with two)
So now, I was in the midst of the confetti shower, petals falling all around like floral snow, sitting down on one of the steps to bring myself down lower to get the angle I wanted of them. At a time like this I'm shooting in burst mode which allows to fire off a number of frames, one after another, because you really don't have time to decide exactly when the confetti looks at its best! Focusing can also be a challenge with both the subjects moving, i.e the Bride & Groom, as well as the petals coming through the frame constantly. Modern cameras do help in this situation with tracking mode, allowing you to tell the camera to keep the focus on the main subjects, despite everything else that is going on
In this instance, the volume of confetti was so great, there were one or two shots where they practically disappeared , hidden behind a botanical curtain, and you get a sense from this shot about how much there was. It's the first time where I've been brushing confetti over afterwards as well as the Bride & Groom
So why have I singled this shot out from the dozen that I took? Well, it's a few things really.
It's theirs hands firmly gripping one another. It's the expression on the Grooms face, eyes closed to the storm. It's the Bride with her head bowed in the deluge, her flowers held upright in her other hand. It's the petals passing through the shot, some in the focal plane, many not.
It's lots of things really, but I just love it!!
It's the kind of shot that afterwards, when you look back at the day, you think 'Phew, I got it!!'
I hope this gives you a bit of an insight into the trials and tribulations of documentary wedding photography. If you've enjoyed reading it you might like to read some of my other blogs where I talk about my favourite wedding images
Thanks for visiting the website and please get in touch if you'd like to have a chat about your wedding photography