Assignment 5 – Applying the techniques of illustration and narrative


For the last assignment I chose a selection of photographs from a wedding. Wedding is a great event to show off the illustration and narrative techniques. There are a few things that I strive to achieve, while I am photographing a wedding –  firstly,I am trying to be invisible, making sure that people stop noticing me and relax and enjoy themselves, thus giving me the chance to photograph them at their best. Documentary style of wedding is my preferred way of working.

Number two – getting connected. I spent my time getting to know the couple and photographing them before their big day, so they don’t feel intimidated when I start shooting…

Number three – record the even as a story – from begging of the bride getting ready to the last photo of the couple’s first dance.

Number four – capture the most important moments. And capture the small moments that will be treasured by the couples for years to come. Smile on the bride’s mum face, tears of happiness on her grannies, little looks and moments of joy and laughter.

I aim to photograph in such a way that there is no description needed, however, for the purpose of this assignment I was asked to put some description in for each chosen image.

Establishing images

I think this photo perfectly summarises what the essay will be about. I prefer using a photo like this to the more obvious ones of the bride and groom or a scen from a church.

Technical details : canon 50mm lens , F 1.8 – I shot from the table level, so the napkin in front  gets blurred, as well as the glasses behind. The focus is set on the chocolate sweets with ‘bride’ and ‘groom’ on.

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The second image shows the start of the story – the bride is getting ready, with the help of a make up artist. Light comes from the window on the left, perfect for illuminating the skin.


Detail images

A detail image that should not be missing from any wedding shoot is the bride’s dress. Besides taking several photos of the whole dress, I also like to concentrate on some interesting details, in this case the buttons.

Technical details : canon 50mm lens , F 1.8 – shot slightly from above, so the natural curve of the dress is well shown, the shallow depth of filed leads the eyes straight to the buttons, with the foreground and background being less sharp.

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The second image shows the venue of the ceremony, but through a detail of the ribbons on the back of the chairs.

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Portrait image

I don’t like to pose my subjects and always prefer to observe and take a photo at the right moment. This was a quick image of the ride, while she finished her preparations and talked to her mum. I stood behind her and simply called her name. I took the photo as she turned to look at me. I love the anticipation in her eyes.

Technical details : canon 24-70mm lens at f2.8. I chose black and white for the image, to add variety to the whole portfolio, also the black and white finish is very complimentary to skin tone under an artificial light of the hotel room, where the bride was getting ready. Shot from a straight on position, slightly elevated, which adds the portrait a bit more interest. F 2.8 was enough to keep both of the eyes in focus and to have the chin and the neck softer.

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The second portrait image is a photo of the couple, after their wedding ceremony. This is once again, an unposed photo, when I told the couple to rest and relax while I was ‘setting up ‘ my camera. Completely oblivious to me, not expecting me photographing them, I took this shot – relief, happiness, intimacy, connection – that is what this image is about.

Technical details : canon 24-70mm lens at f3.5. I like the splash of the red colour in the background.


Action image

This is probably my favourite photo of the whole wedding. The interaction between the bride, her three bridesmaids, and the expression of the granny at the table is what makes this photo for me. Black and white was chosen so the colours do not distract, I feel that with colour the photo would be too busy.

Technical details : canon 70-200 mm lens at f2.8, this allowed me to shoot from distance ( so not to be intruding ) and yet to compose the image tightly.



The second action image is the photo of the couple’s first dance –terrible light in the room and I am not a flash photography fan, so ISO went up to 2,000 and I kept the f number to minimum 2.8. zoom lens of 24-70 as above, so I could get easily in and out in terms of closeness of the image.


The connection

This image documents that it’s important to bend the rules. I normally discard photos from wedding where the guest looks directly into my camera – I find them too boring as well as out of the documentary style that I am striving to achieve. However, this image made it to my selection, mainly as my little personal victory  – the boy had been incredibly shy through the whole day and seemed to sense whenever i tried to take a quick shot of him. So i did not force it, waited, talked to him a bit, waited some more time, and finally, at the end of the day, i took this photo. We became friends and he managed to become completely relaxed around me and my camera, even enjoyed a bit of posing at the end. I like how he is giving himself to the camera, with a straight, direct look into the lens.

Technical details : canon 85 mm lens at f2.2, this allowed me to shoot from, very low light, i aimed to get a bit of reflection from the disco lights that bounced from the cling to the floor and illuminated the right part of the boy’s face. he was sliding and playing on the floor so i had to take the background as it was, but kind of like the geometrical feel to it with the floor tiles and the lines in the back.

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The end

…and they lived happily ever after…this was not the last image of the wedding day but i like the couple walking away, as the photo signifies the begging of their new life as a married couple.

Conclusion/ Resources

The first ever photographer that I truly admired was Henry Cartier Bresson – and today when I think about documentary style photography his name still comes up as the first one. His photographs are always full of narratives, he captured a whole story in a single image, that is something to aspire to.


Ok, ideally i would like to see the other foot of the guy but otherwise this is perfection,isn’t it?  ( Kiss – Henry Cartier Bresson)

“Pictures, regardless of how they are created and recreated, are intended to be looked at. This brings to the forefront not the technology of imaging, which of course is important, but rather what we might call the eyenology (seeing)”. Henry Cartier Bresson

He introduced the idea of ” the decisive moment”, the fleeting moment of an action or interaction, the combination of inspiration, quick hand and a genius brain, all put together at the very same split of a second to document a moment that otherwise would be gone forever.

My other idol used to be Robert Doisneau, I admired his photos of Paris long before I was able to go and visit myself. But I still remember the shock when I found out, that one of his most famous photos, The Kiss by the Hôtel de Ville was in fact staged..I don’t think I had fully recovered from the realisation that this was a set up photo and Mr Doisneau took it from three different positions before selecting the final one…and the admission was mainly due to a threat of law suit…


Anyway, to document the decisive moment is a big part of the thrill that photography gives me. It is always a massive part of the image, the story behind it and the joy when I manage to capture it. To me it feels a bit like cheating to pose people, even if of course it must be done sometimes, but I definitely prefer to tell my story through photos that I manage to catch before they fly away….








This entry was published on February 9, 2015 at 6:50 pm. It’s filed under assignments, OCA and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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