Street Style Wedding Photography

Street style is an emerging style of wedding photography, previously the term ‘alternative’ was banded about in order to distinguish myself from the traditional means of photographing weddings. As customers become more appreciative of wedding photography as an art-form, thus the lexicon is allowed to expand in order to gain a more and more niche understanding. Thanks to doing what I love, Liam Smith Photography allows me to experiment with various styles of wedding photography!

I’ve read articles describing Jeff Ascough as the Cartier-Bresson of wedding photography. As ridiculous as that statement is, if you say it often enough, people start to believe it. Personally, I think it’s BS, but the marketing seems to have worked. With that in mind, on this day, I declare myself the William Klein wedding photographer…

Street style wedding photography is about not only capturing the moment but capturing multiple significant moments in one frame. Depth and layers are absolutely integral to this style of shooting. There is action beyond the moment in the foreground or the moment that is in focus. Out of focus elements add context and depth and ultimately create a deeper sense of narrative within a single image.

Here are a few examples.

What William Klein taught me about wedding photography:

I didn’t stand in a gallery stroking my stubble whilst clutching a glass of wine. I wasn’t sitting in a leather armchair with a cigar pouring over Kleins books. An image popped up that I recognised, and the rest clicked.

Having been in therapy for the last year has taught me so much about myself and my life. One thing that it has helped me understand is that things start to appear when you position yourself correctly and are ready to receive them. Only when your mind is working in the way you want it to will the things you want start to manifest themselves.

This is exactly what happened with Klein’s images. I have seen his photographs thousands of times, but I can’t say that they ever jumped out at me enough to remember them or to cite Klein as one of my favourite photographers. I am consistently trying to understand my own work, to truly get to grips with what it is I love about photographs. This questioning will no doubt continue to the end of my days as my work evolves, however in the past few weeks it has been at the forefront of my mind. I’ve always striven to capture ‘the moment’, the decisive moment is still a term banded around, the idea that you can time your pictures perfectly to create a single, stand out image. I found Klein’s work at the right time and the right stage of my development, his work taught me that there are multiple ‘moments’, …

street style wedding photography

These images are all about layering, being in the moment, but also recognising that there are multiple moments occurring at any one time. We have the two men in the foreground, the boy running framed by the bent arm, the groomsmen laughing at the piece of paper and the girls taking a selfie. Layers create context, depth and narrative. I love it.

I am not my photographs.

This is something I have struggled with for a long time. I have always hated the idea of self promotion and never been inclined to share my work freely for fear of critique. I am insecure, I have no doubt about that, but understanding that my pictures are something that I have created and that the critique of the image is not a critique of me as a person is helping me to access a higher plane of working.

In Klein’s work I see a desire to capture a great image, not a reflection of ego. A genuine curiosity about the world around him, not an attempt to elevate photography to art. This freedom of expression for me does in fact elevate it to that status, a pure form of expression, a depiction of a likeness, a portal in which to gaze and become lost. If an image was blurry, slightly out of focus or very grainy, I would reject it without hesitation. Maybe from fear of being judged as a bad photographer, but to care what others think is a position of fear and I can no longer live in fear of a judgement that probably isn’t even real. I have assumed this judgement will come, but more importantly, feared it. Why? All the greatest artists have never cared about ‘the market’, they created, and that was it. They did not bend or lean to the pressures of employers, all they did was create and express themselves, always honing their craft.

Street style is about photographing everyone

I never understand wedding photography portfolios that are full of pictures of the only the bride and groom. The average wedding in the UK has 120 attendees. Where are the other 118 people? My work is all about documenting the whole day. The details, the guests, the laughs, the tears, you name it, I want to photograph it. I’m excited by the chance encounters, the never-repeatable and the completely unexpected. These special days are one of the few occasions in life where everyone you love comes together. I want to photographer them being themselves. Drunk uncles, dad dancing and cartwheels down hills.

wedding guest drinking wine

I love weddings because of the people and the things they do. Human behaviour and interaction is a wonderful thing. People are expressive with their hands, communicate with their eyes and weave stories with their facial expressions. A wedding is full of expression and deserves to be captured with sincerity and respect. Street style wedding photography is not about making your guests look foolish, it exists to cherish and love their individuality.

The best thing about photographing weddings is witnessing someone else’s love story. Being able to share in the incredible amounts of joy that my couples and families experience is a truly wonderful thing. For every romantic photo I take, there’s usually a hundred times the amount of images that depict joy in unscripted moments. These wedding pictures are my favourite. No holds barred happiness, no shame, no conscious vetting of emotion, no fear. Just honesty and truth. One of the greatest things about this job is that not only is the wedding day itself full of joy and happiness, but editing the photographs brings a smile to my face all over again.

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