Sleeping Best man, Woodlands Hotel, Leeds, West Yorkshire

The story behind the shot, sleeping best man

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Sleeping Best man, Woodlands Hotel, Leeds, West Yorkshire

One of my favourite wedding images was of a sleeping best man taken at the Woodlands Hotel, Leeds, West Yorkshire and because it's one of my favourite images I thought I would explain why.  There are lots of different kind of wedding photographers out there but I describe myself as a documentary wedding photographer.  This means that I mainly capture the wedding day and not set moments up, so I'm always on the lookout for something that makes a picture that is a little different.

The story behind this image is as follows.  One of my best friends was getting married at The Woodlands Hotel in Leeds and he asked me to be his photographer and I, of course, jumped at the opportunity and felt very privileged. He wanted very unobtrusive pictures and just trusted me to do my thing which is how I like to work. The chap asleep in the picture is also another one of my best friends and he was one of the grooms best men (he had two).  The best man in the picture (I shall now call him Ste because it's his name) all day was dreading his speech, in fact, he was so nervous he couldn't actually fully enjoy the day including the wedding breakfast.  I have no idea why he was nervous because he absolutely hit the ball out of the park with his speech and had the all the guests crying with laughter when he told the bride to "pipe down"!  It was only after his speech that Ste could relax, enjoy the rest of the evening and have a few drinks.

Right, back to the picture, Ste had some drinking to catch up on so in the evening he made sure he did just that.  The whole night was fab and there were loads of shapes thrown on the dancefloor.  As one of my wedding packages I offer unlimited coverage so as long as there are pictures to be had, I'm there. After the party had finished a lot of the guests retired to the hotel bar and had a sing-a-long around the piano. I spent quite a bit of time photographing lots of drunk people singing "Hey Jude" and similar songs which were great.  However, in the corner, I noticed that the best man Ste was starting to look a bit sleepy in a chair, so I thought it was a good opportunity to take a picture. This was 1:33 am, so I quietly headed over to where he was and I waited.  I took a quick snap of Ste asleep but then realised there was a much better picture to be had than just a quick snapshot.  I then looked around and I noticed that there were two portraits of dogs which were in a perfect position to frame him.  I lowered my angle and things were starting to look interesting. It was also great that Ste's friend Phil had already placed a purse in his hands before I took the shot.  A couple of seconds later, I'd taken the picture and I was back to photographing drunk people singing again.

Why do I like this picture so much? This one picture illustrates how I photograph everything (including weddings).  I try to find something a little quirky, something fun and unexpected.  The picture isn't set up in any way it's just a case of looking and waiting for the right moment.  It's a little bit daring and lots of photographers wouldn't have taken this picture. The picture tells a story and when you know the story of Ste being the best man, worrying and then relief leading to exhaustion it's a very powerful frame.  I LOVE that the dogs are just watching him and it's them that actually make this picture.  There are loads of reasons why this is a special picture for me.  This picture also won a Fearless Award which is probably the equivalent of an Oscar for wedding photography. 

 


John Steel Wedding Photography
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