For decades, wedding photography was stilted and conventional. But recently, an adventurous spirit rising in both couples and photographers has shifted the rules. Individuality is now key, whether that means bringing in landscape photography techniques, photojournalism or hipster style. No matter how edgy they may be, though, wedding photogs still need to get a shot of Nana dancing with her 7-year-old grandson. We’re proud to present the 10 best wedding photographers of the year—individuals all.
Marcus Bell only got this “Plan B” photo because the yacht he was supposed to shoot on didn’t show. “My experience has shown me that it’s not the location that makes the image, it’s always the couple.“
Though Marcus Bell started shooting weddings as an unpaid assistant, he was in it for the money. And as he carried bags for experienced wedding shooters in exchange for a chance to learn how they operate, he noted they mostly relied on formulas. When Bell struck out on his own, he followed their lead and reserved his true passion for personal projects—the landscape work and street photography that first attracted him to the medium. All that changed one day when he asked a couple of commercial photographers when they found time to do the work they really loved. “They said, ‘This is what we really love. It just happens that we get paid really well for it,’” Bell recalls. “It was like a light bulb went on.” Since then, Bell has been applying his landscape and street talents to create vivid, textured images of the events he’s hired to shoot. The change brought him both more business and more pleasure. “Now my wedding photography is what I love doing the most,” he says. His best tip for getting great pictures: Stop listening. “I cut out all the noise,” he says, “and just look at the body language, the eyes, the hand movements, the gestures. They speak louder than the words people are saying.”
Bell used a 200mm f/2.8 lens to achieve the compression he wanted in this image. “To get the composition and setting right,” he explains, “I needed to be on the other side of the lake, some 300 meters away.”