"This part of the day is always painful. These pictures are never even that good. These will never end up framed."
After 5 years of being a wedding photographer, you start to notice things either you, or other people in your industry commonly say. It is incredibly easy to jump on the bandwagon that gives you an excuse for having weak photos. To say, this is universal, unchangeable, and there is no way to make it better.
The harder thing to do is dig in. The harder thing to do is to not give yourself the out, but to admit you should be serving your couples better and creating memorable meaningful moments the entire day. This year I took a hard look at what segments of a wedding day I could improve on. Which parts did I think were less less inspiring and what could I do, as the photographer, to bring meaning into this part of the day? One of those segments was formals. Lining up combinations of people and asking them all to smile at me, is exhausting. Not only for me, but also for my couples on their wedding day.
I am a strong believer that you should never feel like a moment of your wedding day is about the pictures. Instead the whole day should be about being present and creating moments worth taking photos of. So I applied this to formals. I asked my bride and groom to bring some vulnerability to this part of the day. To look their friends and family that were the most important to them, right in the eye, and tell them that. To smile for a formal picture and then to turn to them and remind them why they are so loved.
What a gift this has been. Wedding days go so incredibly fast, and often we forget to take the necessary moments to thank the ones that have got us to this day.