Wedding photography is a tricky field to navigate. Couples want a record of the day and all its special moments, but they don’t necessarily want to stand around for hours while a procession of relatives and friends are gathered, ready to be assembled for staged shots. These days wedding photography is all about capturing the essence of the day without being noticed.
There’s a huge weight of expectation on the photographer because if what they snap isn’t what the couple had in mind, it’s impossible to go back and do it again. There’s literally one shot at getting it right.
Etienne Laine’s been capturing couples’ special moments on their wedding day since 2010 and he’s built up a following due to his reportage style of photography, capturing what he describes as ‘moments between moments – things you never even noticed’.
Etienne believes that if he’s done his job well, the happy couple won’t remember him being a big part of their day.
‘Reportage is a term that’s often misused by photographers,’ he says. ‘The dictionary definition of reportage is “the factual, the journalistic presentation of an account”. But is has become a buzzword for photographers to use in their marketing, a bit like “bespoke” in the manufacturing world.
I’m of the belief that if you are advertising yourself as a reportage photographer, then your photographs should not just be shot unobtrusively, but offer a visual narrative of the day.’
Reportage, he adds, is an honest, journalistic way to portray a wedding and record what really happened.
‘When I shoot a wedding I try to be as covert as possible. If you look through my wedding photographs you’ll notice that the only time I photograph someone looking at me is if they are looking at me. I say covert but it’s not about hiding under tables or using a telephoto lens, it’s about integration into the wedding party and not standing out.’
Through his years of experience Etienne has discovered that people are much happier having their photo taken when they’re not under pressure to perform.
‘When I’m shooting a session with a bride and groom I will ask them to go for a walk and then stalk them, but it’s ok, they’re paying me to do it. The results from this are natural photos where they will remember walking and chatting and not being instructed to smile or wait for me to set up my equipment.
‘Being remembered from someone’s wedding is great but I prefer to be remembered for the photos that I deliver and not my presence. Your wedding day will go quickly and with a true reportage wedding photographer you won’t miss any of it.’