The Importance of Context Photography | Photo Story #3

20 September 2019

Context photography | The importance of the context in photography | The story behind the photograph of the wedding dress on a tree

Patience is the key

From my first forays into the world of photography, I struggled a lot with patience. At each stage of my photography, I had to practice my patience --in terms of how much time to invest in a single photo or scene.

Some pictures freeze a perfect moment that, by nature, is absolutely unrepeatable. And they are treasured because there is no chance that everything will look the same again because everything happened spontaneously at that specific moment. Think for a second about a bird that flies near the frame of the side window of your car. The action lasts a fraction of a second, ends, and does not repeat. Right?

But there are times, when the situation is not like a flying bird, because of the events last several seconds or even minutes (like a President speech, or the first dance). Perfect, in this cases, we have to use at our advantage the exercise of our patience: I mean, working on a better composition and better overall frame, but also capture the more "decisive moment" as possible. That's why patience here is the key.

As a photographer, you continually feel passionately attracted to something great to take a picture of; so you shoot and shoot. But to seek excellence, each photographer eventually develops that 'feeling' or 'personal criteria' to detect the scenes that deserve the highest demand (--of patience and time). Which gives us a better photo in terms of composition, light, momentum, and context, according to the trend of your own photography style.

That's why I say that patience is the key to certain photos. And although patience is not a photographer's goal, it is undoubtedly a tool that helps to achieve the message you want to convey with a photograph.

What I want to achieve, in most of the times I see a great scene to shoot, is the context!

By definition, context is "the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed." And this is the topic of this article: the photo story of the wedding dress on a tree.

Shooting at Jorge and Lucilla's wedding in Ensenada, during the getting ready we were at Bruma Valle de Guadalupe. And I must say that the location is beautiful, very spacious, and completely immersed in the wild atmosphere of a Baja California vineyard: a lot of wildlife and many huge trees.

It is in my essence to tell the real, honest, and visual story of a wedding day, through my photography.

That is why I always seek to include many details, signs, emotions, and whatever it is that helps the photograph to have more context. I want to put information in the shot, letting the viewer know as much as possible about that particular scene.

As you can see in the images of this post, I was not just shooting photos inside the rooms (--where the bride, the groom, and their immediate families were getting ready). But also outside, and especially, from the outside in.

Why? Because that way, I can put two different contexts in the same photo (the outside, and the inside) and make the picture more interesting. Always without losing the honest ethic, so without alerting or modifying the scene: it's a must.

The wedding dress was hanged in the bedroom structure inside the room, and I was outside. Immediately I realize that there was a lot of potential with that scene, and I keep to shoot. For me, the idea is not just having a cute unscripted photo of a wedding dress, but having the same wedding dress photos with more context: in this case, human connections and actions. That's why I didn't settle with just a wedding dress that looks like hanging on the outside tree, I was pursuing to add human elements and some connection to it.

So, I kept shooting for a while (using the patience, do you remember? ), trying to have a well-composed and exciting picture to tell the story.

Take an in-depth look at the other unselected shots. You will see, many details don't work well, but all of them work thoroughly in the final selected image.

I am often asked: Why do you not deliver each and every one of the shots you take? Well, this example is perfect for addressing that point. Sometimes, we photographers take many more than just one shot, to pursue a single photograph --that manages to show that personal vision that was in our imagination. So, when a photographer eliminates all the non-chosen shots, trust that he/she will have chosen to keep the very best one.

Finally, there I was. Looking for an image where: the faces of both people were visible, the visual lines and outlines were more comfortable to read, and better distinction of the shapes.

At the final result, everything was much better than I expected. I achieved what I wanted, but also added a small intriguing detail. It seems that the person on the left is holding the tree and not the groom's jacket (--like the other shots), which I find fascinating. The shape, and the very default image of "the hanging coat," both disappear entirely. Adding a delightful little detail, allows the elements of my photograph to coexist: the tree, the dress, the two girls, the hands, the hanger, "the iron"... This is Context Photography for me: to provide a lot of information, in one image that tells the story.

Context Photography

Moral of the story, trust your instincts and your photographic vision. Do not compromise your art, your style, your photography. And when it's worth it, invest the time you think is reasonable to wait for the shot in which everything fits best.

Di Lusso

I hope you enjoyed this photo story, more to come soon. D.

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