I handed it over and Jennifer just looked at me stunned. Her lower lip trembled and then, overwhelmed with emotion, her eyes welled up before tears rolled down her cheeks and she began to cry. Smiling, she turned to Emma who was sat on her left. She grabbed her hand reassuringly and then also started crying before giving Jennifer a hug. Across the table, next to me, was sitting Lilly - with both Jennifer and Emma now in tears she also welled up and then began to cry too.
The wedding day had gone really well - we'd been on site since 7 am and shot the preparation of both the bride and groom before guests had started arriving around lunchtime. We captured the excited pre-ceremony hubbub and then some groom and best man shots, Red Bull in hand!
The excitement was also building for the bride and we recorded the busyness of her preparations – hair, make-up, dress, shoes. Then, it was full-on for the ceremony - guests, a nervous groom, the arrival of the bride. The day sped-up, with formal group shots, set bride and groom shots, the reception, the party, the first dance. It was a whirlwind and, before we realized, it was over. Exhausted, we left for a well deserved night's rest.
With nearly 2000 photos in the bag, and after a long session culling, an online album of around 800 photos was ready for the couple. The bride was happy (and consequently the groom was happy that the bride was happy!) and so now all we had to do was put the album together. We designed the initial layout for the album, which included around 100 photos. A month later I was asked to scratch that design, was given a list of 250 photos and asked to start again. That design was accepted with a few minor changes and signed off for printing.
I've always thought that the client-photographer relationship is two-way. Yes, they are hiring you for a particular job but it is very much a partnership - you are working with them, and they are working with you. You are both trying to achieve the desired end and you are picking the client as much as they are picking you. With wedding photography, this is a very personal commission and, often, a significant expense. As a result, I aim not only to have an honest relationship and produce a high-quality product, but also try to over-deliver - not too much, but enough to bring a smile to the face. That's because we all like to feel we've received more than we've paid for and it engenders so much more than goodwill.
The couple's photo package included an A4 lustre, fold-flat, 26-page photo book – custom boxed with hand applied motifs themed with the wedding decorations Additionally, I had produced two books rather than one, and threw in a sparkly USB stick beautifully packaged and packed with photos. I wanted to make the bride feel special by giving it to her at the post-wedding meeting. And boy, did she feel special, and happy, and grateful. In fact, so overwhelmed that she started crying! Which then started her Matron of Honor crying and then my second shooter. I can honestly say I didn't know what to do, sat in a coffee shop with three grown women happily sobbing.
This experience was a strong reminder of just what a visually powerful medium photography is. It has the ability generate an emotional response and then gets people to act upon that response. Think of Don McCullin's "Shell Shock," Jeff Widener's "Tank Man," or Wildlife Photographer of the Year Brent Stirton's more recent winning image of a dehorned rhino. Whilst these images immediately spring to mind, we often don't think of positive messages that images can deliver - Sal Veder's "Burst of Joy" is a great reminder. You can't help but smile when you see it.
These are emotive, but all images have the power to move people and that power is particularly potent when you have a strong connection to the image. Combine that positive emotion with a gift and the impact can be immense. "Giving" is now firmly rooted in my photography thinking and methodology.
Images used with permission of weddingclub.