Look for the Light When Choosing a Photographer

Why do you like certain photographs? It’s interesting to think why any picture might interest you, spark a reaction. Having more insight into your own visual “aesthetic” and you do have one, might give you a better compass for finding the right photographer for your wedding. Or it could make your picture taking more fun.

So back to the question, why a particular photo? Subject matter, surprise, unique point-of-view, memories the photograph evokes, there a lots of things. Sometimes, it’s simply the light. The way the light makes it’s own statement on the subject. The way it makes you see something differently than you saw it yesterday, when the light was different.

Below is one which is part of a series I’ve been doing – common place subjects with an emphasis on the special light of the scene. This was taken with my cell phone at a lake I’ve visited over the years. I’ve always loved this particular tree. It sits right across the street from a friend’s home. I’ve shot it several times over the years but one evening we arrived at dusk and it was a whole new tree. Strange and beautiful.

Part of what’s happening here is less at the objects around you and more at the light reflected off them. Jeff Ascough – the amazing British wedding photographer – says he walks into a room and looks for interesting light, sets up and waits for something interesting to happen in that light. He’s won so many awards I think they may have to retire his number. I was shocked to hear him say that. He’s ‘categorized’ as a photojournalistic style shooter. Isn’t that supposed to mean s/he just records what’s happening, not focus what’s beautiful? Well, apparently you can have both.

So here’s another cell phone photograph of something we all see all the time. A gas station. When’s the last time you stopped to appreciate a gas station? Just kidding. It’s not really about a gas station, it’s about lots of different kinds of light.

Because cameras see light a bit differently than you do, photographs can give you new view into the world around you. For one thing, the camera is less caught up with interpreting the scene around it. You, on the other hand, are predisposed to interpreting it, mixing in other things like the temperature, you companions, where you just were, what you were thinking about, and all the other complexities of your life (or wedding). The camera just captures the light. A narrower view, for sure, but one that yields it’s own insight.

Now I know that neither of the pictures above were from weddings. I did that because when you look at wedding pictures, the content often competes with what the light is doing. However, it doesn’t mean that the light in a wedding picture doesn’t have some effect. I’ve added a couple below where the specialness of the light enhances the scene significantly. See if you agree.

So, when you are looking at pictures, including searching for a wedding photographer, watch for the light. The best ones cherish it.


About the Author:

Dan Derby, Wedding Photographer

The spirit of a wedding day lives in fleeting events, unfolding without direction. Wedding photojournalism is how the story of a wedding day can be captured artfully. Trained as a designer (BA & MFA) and skilled in visual story telling, Dan Derby works quietly throughout your wedding day making sure this happens. He is based in New England but travels where ever he’s needed.

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