Creating Interesting Photos Out of Boring Moments | Working Through a Scene

Weddings are usually incredibly joyful and exciting events filled with many great moments. But how do you create interesting images out of all the ordinary events that largely fill a wedding day? Since I haven’t written a post for photographers in quite some time, I thought today I’d share a little bit about how I work to create interesting, story-telling photos out of ordinary moments.

Let’s face it, wedding receptions are often filled with mundane, boring-looking moments. Aside from the dancing and toasts–where you get a lot of emotion and interaction between people–the rest of the event is largely filled with people standing, sitting, staring, eating, and talking. Now for the people doing those things, they’re probably having a great time. But who wants photos of themselves chomping down on hors doeuvres? How can you create interesting images out of people standing around?

When the moments themselves appear uninteresting, I search for a way to make them more intriguing–namely, I find an unusual or interesting composition. Once I’ve found an interesting composition that has potential for a moment, I literally plant myself and wait for the moment to arrive. I call this working through a scene. Sometimes I’ll get something interesting, other times I won’t, no matter how long I wait or try. That’s OK, sometimes you just have to walk away.

Here’s an example I found as I was culling a recent wedding. You’ll see I was taking some detail shots, people talking, boring images. Then I noticed the interesting light from the panels in the back of the room. I also see a big line of people in front of the (truly amazing) cookie table (more on that later). I think there might be something interesting here. So I start shooting, cleaning up my composition. But there’s nothing, nothing, nothing…the people are too crowded and overlapping at first. Then they start to clear to about four or five subjects. OK, this is getting more interesting, but I still haven’t created an image I like.

So I keep shooting more images. I’m looking for distinct profiles, and I’m waiting for everyone to “line up” in an interesting way. I also want the photo to convey some sort of story about people standing and waiting. Finally, I see the girl is doing something interesting with her hand–she’s touching her face. This is what I was looking for. Even though I think I’ve gotten an image I like, I continue to shoot to see if something better will come along. Obviously, it doesn’t. The four people are down to three, the symmetry is lost. I’m not going to get anything more interesting so I move on.

The final step is to crop and edit the image. I don’t like how the man on the far left is blob-like, nor do I like the distracting light of the candle on the table. So I crop in and edit the image. Here is the final result. Sure, it’s no tear-inducing moment, but it’s about as interesting a photo that you’re going to get of people standing around at a reception.

Oluwole Onakanmi - Good picture

Katia - Mary, great post. I agree with Leeann, it’s very interesting to see how everybody has a different way of capturing a story. I really thought I was the only one always waiting for “the moment”to arrive, thank you for sharing.

Leeann Marie - Cool post, Mary! I like hearing about your process :)

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