This week’s photo is a favourite of mine from a wedding I shot last October in Cincinnati. This was a fun day for me to shoot as the bride is an old friend of mine from when I first moved to the USA from the UK back in 1999. The reception was held in a marquee in the back garden of her parents’ gorgeous house overlooking the Ohio valley and that is where this shot of their first dance was taken. I think it’s pretty obvious why I like it: this was the split second when the bride made eye contact with me and the expression in her eyes is just priceless. You can’t see her the whole of her face, but you don’t need to; she just looks so incredibly happy.
Shooting the couple’s first dance is a moment where the photographer’s style will always come to the forefront. The vast majority of photographers will use a flash for this part of the day as there is movement with the dancing couple, which can be challenging if you want a sharp picture when the lighting is low. I tend to prefer using available light as I do not want to ruin the intimacy of the moment with my flashgun going off every time I hit the shutter button. As such, for times like this, I rely on faster lenses with wide apertures that let in more of the available light. Using a flash is easier in many ways, but it’s just not my way of doing things unless we are shooting in total darkness and I really have no other choice.
As always for me, it’s about respecting the moment for what it is rather than trying to impose on it and detract from it by shaping it for the purposes of an easy photo. Where the first dance is concerned specifically, I have also seen other photographers actually step in and interrupt the dance in order for the couple to stop dancing and face the camera for a “grab and grin” shot. That is a total “no-no” for me. Style is totally a subjective thing, but mine is to leave the couple alone and infringe on their moment as little as possible. Waiting for the right instant to press the shutter is what matters and that is what is captured in this picture as she holds her husband close and our eyes meet.