Years of Experience
What exactly is 'reportage' photography? Reportage is liberally applied to many different scenarios from wars to weddings, but for Douglas Fry it is about creating an exciting and interesting running narrative, where every single image builds to form a complete story - an entire wedding day.
Expert reportage photography requires a raft of strong technical skills. But more importantly, it needs a 'sixth sense,' which is the ability to be in the right place at the right time to capture the most telling images i.e. to be at the heart of the action but never in its way. Naturally, this only comes with experience, which Douglas offers after more than 20 years as a professional photographer.
The process of shooting a wedding in reportage style that tells a story entirely through pictures requires careful forethought, planning (where to be and when) and considerable practice. Of course, when it is done well it gives the illusion of being easy, but this is deceptive. To do it expertly takes considerable experience and a lot of hard work, married to a strong sense of anticipation.
Douglas's photographs do stand apart. They tell a detailed and accurate story, a story of a couple getting married using bridal preparation, 'establishing shots' of the location (exteriors and interiors) to have a strong sense of place and time. He'll seek out specific images that give a sense of the season, the weather, and he'll look to capture the full gamut of family and guests' emotions, from joyous and happy, to wistful, that reveals a sense of loss amongst the happiness. And he'll ensure there is the right balance of close ups, middle distance and distance shots.
Staying focused throughout a long day is critical. Douglas needs to ensure that nothing vital is missed, because he doesn't want to have to ask guests to pose for staged pictures that look unnatural in a reportage portfolio. He must be on the spot for the first kiss, and many other fleeting moments and that's why he has to be able to think and see ahead.
For example, when the couple recesses back up the aisle Douglas must be in the right place in advance, with all his camera bags and kit ready to pick up when leading the exit. The reason is that it's almost impossible to go back into a church against the unstoppable flow of 150 smiling guests, which would mean missing crucial photographs of the celebrations at the end of the ceremony.
"There are so many photographs we didn't even realise were taken."
As probably the most wedding experienced person attending, Douglas often takes on a role of helping everything run smoothly. Friendly and approachable, Douglas invariably is asked to help a guest to put a buttonhole on his morning suit, or to sort out a seating problem in the marquee. He'll happily give lifts to otherwise forgotten bridesmaids (not such an onerous task!) and will advise with changes to timings when some speeches overrun. And he'll do all this while composing, watching and covering the day photographically to deliver the best possible coverage.
"We really appreciate Douglas's calm efficient manner and how discreet he was when taking photos. It was 100% the right decision to use Douglas and I will highly recommend him to friends."
Once the images are displayed in a chronological sequence, even someone who wasn't able to attend the wedding will have a very accurate sense of the atmosphere, celebration and enjoyment of one of the biggest days in a couple's life. And the couple themselves will have this photographic narrative to look back on for the years to come.