Is That Really a Wedding Detail? Beauty in the Unexpected

December 22, 2015

By Laura Brauer

One thing is certain: wedding photography is becoming less and less predictable. Shooters are going beyond the shot list, focusing their energy on capturing the overall essence and personality of a wedding; unexpected details are just one byproduct of this burgeoning trend. Two of this year’s 30 Rising Stars and two nominees share photos and stories that exemplify this change.

Photo © Oli Sansom

Edgy Ambience

“Plastic bottle filled with cigarette butts” isn’t the first or even the 50th image that comes to mind when thinking of wedding photography, but it was the intriguing sash of light that attracted Oli Sansom to this scene initially. “I liked it because instead of a pretty wedding couple, it was a pretty dirty object being hit by nice light,” the Melbourne photographer says, “and while totally out of character, it sat well in the scene where everyone was chugging down on cigars.”

What it comes down to is having eyes on the entire scene, and that includes the weird details that might have gone overlooked. It’s a win-win: couples want more than what’s expected, and photographers want to avoid monotony.

“Keeping the eye attuned by looking out for things that at a glance might appear to be the polar opposite of the content we’re hired to capture is an important thing,” Sansom explains, “surprising our couples and keeping ourselves open to opportunities to create wider and more interesting coverage and moods.”

Coincidentally, a studio friend of Sansom’s actually advised him to take the bottle photo off his site when he posted it. “I usually take that sort of advice with a grain of salt anyway, and despite being tempted to remove it for a second, I thought, stuff it. Let’s polarize.” An hour later, a couple wrote him inquiring about his availability—and specifically referenced seeing the cigarette photo as their motivation to reach out. — LP

Photo © Shari + Mike

Converse Cat

Vancouver photographers Shari and Mike were in Sapa, Vietnam, for an elopement. Wandering around the area surrounding the mountain village hut where the couple was staying, Shari was in search of a good backdrop for a shoe shot while Mike shot them getting ready inside. She set down the couples’ matching Converse sneakers on the concrete for a moment while she scoped their surroundings, when a little kitten came meandering over. Shari reacted just in time, capturing a nice stretch and a lion-sized yawn.

The stark juxtaposition between the dark, wild kitten and the white, neatly posed shoes worked well—the added humor doesn’t hurt, either—and they included it in their Rising Stars submission.

“It’s always a personal challenge to photograph details in a more uncommon way,” say Shari and Mike. “We want to be able to incorporate details into the telling of the story that sway away from the typical.” — LP

Photo © Mantas Kubilinskas

Saving the Date, Unforgettably

“I love to capture those invisible moments,” explains Washington, D.C., photographer Mantas Kubilinskas, one of 200 photographers nominated for this year’s 30 Rising Stars competition. “Those scenes that are right there in front of you, but many photographers are busy doing something else and missing them.” The documentary-style shooter loves to take risks for better images, which he says can potentially range from rolling down on the ground to jumping in a river—”anything it gets to capture something common that instantly becomes more unique. I love to go out of my comfort zone and get a detail from the day that’s never been taken before.” — JT

Photo © Joshua Dwain Photography

Cake Smash Smackdown

“Since photography is engrained in time, it is always important to me that I don’t stage scenes or fabricate emotions,” says 30 Rising Stars nominee Joshua Dwain Frith of Joshua Dwain Photography in Brooklyn, New York. “Here’s a genuine moment from my bride and groom. After the groom smashed cake on the bride’s face, he smiled and continued eating cake like nothing even happened.”  — JT

Related: Rangefinder Reveals The 30 Rising Stars of 2015

A Star Wars Wedding, By Rob Greer (Rf Wedding of the Week)