What is the secret sauce that makes a single Wedding Photo tell a whole story? We’re joined by Hannah Larkin, Wedding Photographer to discover what it is!
Listen to Hannah on the Wedding Espresso Awesome DIY Wedding Planning Podcast…
Hannah Larkin Photography
James [00:00:05] Hi Hannah. Welcome back to Wedding Espresso it’s lovely to see you again.
Hannah [00:00:08] Thank you. Nice to see you too.
James [00:00:11] Excellent. So today we had a thought that we’d cover a topic which for me, is really, really exciting. And it comes off the back of having our wedding photos printed up in big mounts for the first time. And we were just thinking, what was the process that we went through to choose the most iconic images from our wedding? How did we go through that process? And it occurred to us that both of the images that we chose told very specific stories. And I know that your focus is very much on storytelling.
James [00:00:47] So just for everybody listening and watching who’s not familiar, you are Hannah Larkin and you’re from Hannah Larkin Photography. You provide wonderful wedding photography for couples.
So the subject we wanted to approach with you today was “The Storytelling Power of a Single Wedding Image”.
Now you very kindly provided some images which you are going to take us through. So I’ll just bring the first one up for everyone now and I’ll hand over to you. I’ll let you explain the story behind these images.
Hannah [00:01:21] Okay. So I think that as a wedding photographer and I do have a focus based on emotions and storytelling and I think those two really go hand-in-hand. For me this is one of those images that really sums up the story of a wedding in a single frame. It’s got the important people there, you can see a mix of different emotions, we’ve got the father of the bride there looking incredibly proud to be giving his daughter away. We’ve got a lovely excited Bride and a rather emotional, slightly overcome with emotion Groom waiting for her at the end of the aisle, as she makes her way into the church.
Hannah [00:02:07] And I think that was such a key moment for everyone there at the wedding. You could really feel…
sometimes there’s a moment in a wedding that happens and you can just feel everybody noticing that it’s a really special moment.
It was really quiet, there was some beautiful harp music playing in the background, but no talking. Everybody really just taking a moment to savour what was happening and just noticing quite different reactions between the Bride and the Groom as they saw each other for the first time that wedding morning.
James [00:02:39] Absolutely. I think what stands out for me is perhaps the traditional expectation of role reversal, because obviously the Bride is looking very, very excited. And the Groom is obviously, like you say, being overcome with emotion. I should also point out that it is an incredible skill to be able to capture that moment, because that moment didn’t exist as a single moment did it? You had to create that moment, you had to capture that moment.
Hannah [00:03:09] That’s partly about the experience of being at weddings and knowing when those sorts of moments are more likely to happen. But also just about thinking on your feet and making sure you’re in the right place at the right time to spot it when it happens. I think walking down an aisle is a moment that you’d traditionally, as a photographer, be looking out for these sorts of reactions.
People often talk about it “Oh the moment when I first saw my partner on the Wedding Day” as being a really special moment.
And just the fact that you can be there to witness it, making sure that you’ve chosen a spot. Making sure that you are keeping an eye on both of them, as you say, as you’re not sure who’s going to have what sort of reaction.
James [00:03:51] Absolutely.
Hannah [00:03:52] It’s really important.
James [00:03:54] Fantastic right. Brilliant. And the next one.
Hannah [00:03:59] Yeah. The Ceremony, often kind of a key part of the wedding day, I guess, it’s the reason that everybody is gathered there. So this is the Groom placing the wedding ring on the finger of his Bride. But again, for me it’s all about the emotion, so we can see we’ve got the Best Woman in this case in the background, who is beaming and enjoying the moment, having handed the rings out. And then I feel just like there’s so much joy escaping from the Bride and Groom here, so much happiness. There’s often a moment with the rings where perhaps slightly hot hands mean that rings don’t go on as easily as you might have anticipated, but I really love how beautiful, natural and relaxed this couple were, how they were really in the moment and really enjoying every moment of their wedding ceremony, and for me this photo sums that up.
This is the start of their great married life as an adventure, and there they are happy and relaxed with their friends, but kind of really caught up in each other.
James [00:05:08] Yeah. The thing that strikes me from this image really is like you said, like you touched on, it’s how natural their expressions and their reactions are. And obviously I think if you’re a Bride and Groom who value the Ceremony and the symbolic power of the Ceremony, obviously they’re going to go looking for a photographer that appreciates, like you said at the very beginning, the emotion of the moment and quite clearly there, you’ve captured it.
Hannah [00:05:43] I think it’s also just to flag up that it’s important to double check wherever you’re getting married that photos are allowed. At some Venues it’s not possible to have photos during the Ceremony. And if that’s a key part that you want told, you need to make sure that you check with the Venue.
James [00:06:01] Super. OK. So moving on to the next image.
Hannah [00:06:06] So for me this is telling a story of a really small and intimate wedding. This couple just had a church wedding, but with only 4 guests. It was exciting to see part of this beautiful modern church that they chose to have it in as well, and the 4 people they choose to share their special day with. Along with that, the moment of the first kiss, which is another one of those key moments in a Wedding Ceremony. And for me I love it, you can see how excited they both are, but also that you can see the looks on all their guest’s faces. You can see the happiness, that pride, and I think it’s a privilege also. If you’re having such a small wedding, your guests can really feel that sense of being really important to you and how much this moment means.
What I really love about this image is it reminds me that your memories can often be made more vivid or enjoyable, even longer lasting, through the memories of your guests.
And so you know obviously we’ve got a moment here, and you can see that the guests that they’ve invited to share the ceremony are enjoying the moment so much. You know that that moment is going to live on in their memories and they will share those memories back to the Bride and Groom and kind of enhance that emotional connection, especially to that image.
Hannah [00:07:39] That’s a really lovely idea and I think that’s one of the things that’s so important about photos, that they are a way of bringing back, and as you say, kind of strengthening a memory that you enjoyed. This might be a moment that you wished had lasted forever, but actually it’s captured in time. You haven’t noticed me taking it, but I’ve captured it for you and now you’ve got it. And every time you look at it, it will take you back and transport you back to that moment.
James [00:08:06] I love it. Fantastic.
Hannah [00:08:09] So then outside of the Ceremony I think there are still lots of opportunities at a Wedding for images that tell the story of the day. For this couple they chose the really relaxed woodland style wedding. And I really liked their sense of adventure. So for me this captures that they’re heading off into the woods, but it’s a very relaxed day. She’s kind of picking up her dress walking through the mud. That’s all fine. And it sort of symbolises that start of the adventure together that is married life as they’re walking off.
I like the way that this image has been captured specifically because it’s 100 percent not posed.
It’s one of those moments where you can actually sort of feel the energy of the movement, because nobody in this image is actually standing still on purpose. They’ve obviously been captured in flow. You can almost feel the trajectory of the image. You know what they are doing.
Hannah [00:09:16] You know that they’re headed off somewhere.
Hannah [00:09:19] Yeah. And I think often the portraits part of a wedding is more posed. I use relaxed and natural posing, but it is posing. And sometimes that doesn’t tell the story as much as the moment that’s caught. So I think looking out for a mix of both, having some posed portraits but perhaps you might choose that they’re the ones that go on your wall, because they show your outfits beautifully, they might show your venue beautifully, they might show the emotions between the two of you. But it perhaps doesn’t tell as much of a story about your wedding day than some of the more naturally caught mages.
James [00:10:00] Yeah. The one thing I don’t feel from this image or see from this image is the photographer. I see the moment because obviously it hasn’t been staged and hasn’t been set up, so like you said I think it’s a very organic and authentic moment.
And I think you can connect to that when you feel that an image is authentic it does take on more of a story, more of a journey.
James [00:10:29] Awesome. Okay so this one, this is a good one.
Hannah [00:10:33] Okay so this is slightly different again. This is where I was thinking about those unexpected moments. So I’m all in favour of planning out your wedding times, talking to your photographer about what’s going to happen, but sometimes unexpected things happen and it’s wonderful to be able to capture them. So here my Bride and Groom were just posing for some photos outside of the fire station door. It’s a really nice backdrop in Chelsea after their elopement and suddenly the door started to open. So I said “Get out the way, get out the way, the Fire Engine is going to come out”. And instead these two firemen with their breathing apparatus on just wanted to come and have a photo with the couple. And so they were just there laughing with them and enjoying it. Actually for them it was very special to celebrate their wedding with two other people, they didn’t have any guests at their elopement Ceremony, so these are the first people kind of congratulating them on their wedding.
And I just loved the way it’s quite an unexpected wedding image. It’s not sort of a traditionally romantic image, but it really does tell a story of what was happening for them on their wedding day.
James [00:11:43] Yes it obviously smacks of fun. So like you say something unexpected has happened. I like the fact that instead of walking away from it, you’ve actually used it. You’ve leaned in, you’ve kind of embraced it. Because I think there are probably a lot of photographers out there who would have maybe a semi meltdown or thought, well this isn’t going to work, or it’s going to look weird in the album. I like the fact that you’ve kind of embraced that because obviously the moment did happen. This happened on their wedding day and they’ll remember that now, and it’s been captured. It’s a nice little side story to the day I suppose.
Hannah [00:12:19] And I think the thing is that they’re embracing the moment and I really take my lead from the couple. I follow what they’re wanting to get out their wedding day. What it is they’re enjoying – that’s what I’m capturing. So here I could just see how much fun they were having and so of course to me it was natural that I capture that for them as a memory from their wedding.
James [00:12:39] Brilliant, brilliant. That’s fantastic. And so our last image.
Hannah [00:12:44] Yeah. So this is another…it might look more posed but it’s not a posed image, this was taken during a first dance. So I’m an advocate of doing a first dance. Even if you don’t want to do it in front of your guests, you want to do it privately somewhere else. I think that’s great. But it does really to me, give the opportunity to capture the romance and the love of the wedding. And yeah…
I just feel the expression on this Groom’s face is everything. It’s why he got married. The happiness of being able to hold his wife and for me, that really captures a bit of their relationship and a sense of who they are as man and wife on their wedding day.
James [00:13:35] It really is an expression of pure bliss isn’t it? He’s quite clearly one hundred percent in that moment. And the thing that stuck out for me, because obviously you know, from a Groom’s perspective, I like the fact that this is a Groom led photo. We can’t see the bride’s face, but we don’t need to, because this moment is obviously a moment for the Groom. I did see a lot of this…. I never thought about it prior to our wedding photography, but I did actually see a lot of this kind of groom led photography in our wedding photos. And obviously I had thought maybe pre getting married myself, I had this concept that it was being sort of bridal focussed. But I love the fact that the Groom is having his moment here, really, really stuck out for me.
Hannah [00:14:32] You know regardless of who’s getting married, if you’ve got 2 brides, 2 grooms, 1 of each, it’s about making sure you’re enough in the moment, as the Photographer, that you can capture whatever it is that’s happening. And again this is another image where they’re aware that I’m taking photos, obviously they’ve paid me, they know I’m around for the day, but I’m not in their face, I’m not using flash, I’m very discreetly on the side of the dance floor letting them enjoy their moment, but capturing it for them.
James [00:14:59] I will add actually that because we can actually only see one face it almost increases the intensity of the feeling generated. If there are two faces I think it wouldn’t be so effective.
Hannah [00:15:16] Yeah, it really focuses in on what that one person is feeling and kind of brings us back to this idea that capturing emotion is quite key to knowing the story of the image, and having an image that does have a storytelling ability.
James [00:15:32] Brilliant! Well thank you very much for sharing those. So in closing then, do you have any tips for people that would help them understand how to capture the story of their day in still images?
Hannah [00:15:44] Yes.
I think when you’re choosing your photographer, look for a photographer who focuses on storytelling or focuses on emotion. Look through portfolios and see if you can see stories within the images that they’re displaying, so that you get a good sense of that.
I think secondly you want to get to know your photographer. Let them get to know you.
Hannah [00:16:05] If you know a person, it’s sometimes easier to capture the story of the moment. Let them know what’s really important to you about your wedding day, the people who are really important, the events that you’re really looking forward to. The photographer can then be really keyed in and ready to capture those moments. And I think lastly feeling relaxed with your photographer, so that you can be natural and you can kind of forget about them and just go with the flow. Things like having an engagement shoot with your photographer, getting used to being in front of the camera, feeling really comfortable with them and that you can trust them. All of those things help you to relax a bit. So these kind of really natural storytelling images can be captured.
James [00:16:50] Awesome. And how can Brides & Grooms connect with you if they want to see more of your work?
Hannah [00:16:55] They can see more of my work on my website. hannahlarkinphotography.com or you can find me on social media @hannahlarkinphotography.
James [00:17:04] Lovely. Well Hannah thank you so much for sharing with us. That was very, very insightful. I always love looking at photography and studying it and discussing it. It’s one of my hobbies. I actually do that in my spare time. So that was really cool to actually be able to participate in that process with you.
Hannah [00:17:19] It was lovely to share them with you.
James [00:17:22] Brilliant. Well thanks again Hannah and hopefully we’ll get to speak to you again soon.
Hannah [00:17:28] Take care, thank you.
James [00:17:28] Thanks a lot. Bye for now.