Kingston Wedding Photographer | Rob Whelan Photography | 613.453.6047 » Documentary Wedding Photography for Cool and Adventurous Couples

My Wedding Photography Approach

Wedding photography has changed a lot since your parents got married. It used to be that the photographer would arrive at the ceremony, quietly snap the first kiss and then do some formal portraits afterwards. Today, this doesn’t even cover the bare minimum. Today, wedding photography is an entire day’s work. But, doing a good job takes a whole lot more than just showing up and photographing what’s in front of you for 8 hours. As the genre has strayed from basic formal photos, it has also grown to include a plethora of niches. Photographers doing it their own way and attracting people to their style. Why? Because we can! Digital photography, education and influencers on social media have encouraged people to shoot it their way. Why am I telling you this? Because, I want to share my vision, my version, my wedding photography approach.


First and foremost, I see myself as a photographer at weddings, rather than a wedding photographer. Sounds the same but it’s not, hear me out! You see, a wedding photographer takes pictures of the things he/she is supposed to take, traditionally. The first kiss. The family formals. The speeches and first dance. Don’t get me wrong it is wildly important to get those shots and do them well. I do those shots. Those shots are great. But, the things that happen in between those key moments are the shots that truly make your set of photos sing. The moments in between the key moments, this is where my approach comes to life. I’m not a wedding photographer, I’m a photographer at your wedding, constantly scanning the room, looking for nuances, funny reactions, bloopers, the laugh after an embrace, the unexpected, the unscripted. I’m a photographer addicted to capturing the things I can’t predict. The moments that occur between the ones I can predict. So, how do I do that? It’s exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. Allow me to break down the main parts of the day and speak to them individually.




Let’s get this out of the way, the elephant in the room…I am not there to document the application of make-up! I guess you can call that part the key moments. Sure, I’ll get shots of the make-up and dressing, those shots will be great. But, what I’m really there for is to photograph the relationships, the connection you have with your bestie from pre-school, the reminiscing with your sister from when you were kids, your grandma being so proud of you. I can’t predict when any of this stuff is going to happen, but I know that it does. Over and over and over again. Wanna know a secret? Some of the most meaningful photos of the day come from the hour or two we spend together in your childhood home, hotel room or bridal suite at the venue. I’d like to say that I’m a fly on the wall but I can’t. I’m there. I’m there right beside you. I’m joking with your sis and shooting over your bridesmaid’s shoulder. Everyone knows I’m there but nobody cares. Eventually, everyone forgets I’m making photos and that’s when the magic happens. It’s also why I need more than 15 minutes of prep time to make photos that will truly resonate and have a lasting taste.





Much like the prep, there are moments that I’m supposed to capture, like the bride and father walking down the aisle, the handoff, the first kiss and the exit. I’m’a nail those images. Those are classic key moments and I love shooting them. You know where this is going though don’t you! The stuff that happens like the look in you mum’s eyes during your vows, your grandfather having a little nap, the ring bearer picking at your bouquet. That stuff. That is the stuff that’ll make you cry when you’re celebrating your 40th wedding anniversary. I’m laser focussed on the key moments and spend the ceremony creeping around, kneeling, ducking, lying in the aisle in the most unobtrusive way possible. Anything for the shot.





Ok, so we’re about 5 hours deep on the wedding day and I haven’t said a thing. I mean, I’m there and talking with the people around me as I’m shooting, but I’m just being present. Portrait time is when my approach to wedding photography changes a little bit. It’s the first part of the day where I give real direction. I’m going to try to keep this short so that you actually make it to the end of the post, but know there are a lot of moving parts here that have my creative senses tingling. What’s important for you is to just be madly in love with your partner, I’ll do the rest! When we shoot your portraits, I’ll tell you where to stand, I’ll tell you where to put your hands, I’ll tell you where to look. All of this is happening in relation to the direction of the light. Then….I let you live within the pose. WTF does that mean?! It means I give you direction and then I scurry around shooting the pose from different angles while you just be. Just be yourself within the pose. You don’t need to stand there like robots, just take my guidance loosely and move around within the pose. Laugh at each other. Laugh with each other. Laugh at me while I climb a tree for an angle. Whatever you do, just be you. I’ll capture you. That’s how we make photos that look candid, even though they aren’t, really. Don’t worry, it’s not as hard as it sounds…and if it’s not working, I’ll make fart jokes and you’ll giggle.

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Here we go, the home stretch! The only nerve wracking thing you have left is your first dance, but don’t worry you’ll be fine! During these last few hours I default back into my photojournalist hat and shoot the rad things as they happen. Again, there are key moments, but people are probably drinking at this point so I’m well aware that the funny stuff is upon us! I stroll the room, looking and listening for conversations that will garner reaction. I’ll post up behind someone who’s talking with their hands because I know that if I wait long enough, the people patiently listening while sipping their free rum-punch are about to burst out laughing. I’ll be there for that shot. Same thing with speeches, same thing with the “shoe-game.” There’s the expected shot that I’ll get first, then there’s the unexpected shot that I’ll wait patiently for. Together, those shots are gold and those are the shots that keep me coming back as a photographer at weddings. Not a wedding photographer.




Elmhirst_resort_destination_wedding_cottage_peterborough_keene_ontario_photojournalism_rob_whelandThanks for listening! If you’ve made it this far, you get it. You and I have the same vision and you are looking for photos of your wedding day that will help you #rememberhowitfelt. Mission accomplished. Wanna fill out the contact form and get into the details?