Opening a Corey McFarlane bride’s wedding album is like hopping on an emotional roller coaster. Each photograph not only takes her back to the moment it was captured, but also reflects her feelings at that time. South Florida–based McFarlane knows that a more candid, photojournalistic approach delivers the emotional impact his clients expect to see in their albums.
“My main goal is to capture the expression of each bride and groom,” he says. “If you really can’t get a feel for what the bride and groom are thinking about or doing in the photograph, then you’ve missed the point. And if they’re feeling, ‘Hurry up and take this picture so I can get back to the party,’ you’re more likely to end up with something closer to a senior portrait than a commemorative photograph.” That’s why McFarlane likes to hang back and focus on highlighting the event, as it occurs, with as much detail as possible. His motto is, “Just have your moments alone, and I’ll be in the background doing my thing.”
Still, no bride wants to miss out on at least a few classic portrait shots on her wedding day. “I know we have to get some formal photographs,” admits McFarlane, so he tries to get them out of the way as quickly as possible.
“I find that a lot of brides really just want to have fun on their wedding day, and are more concerned about the photojournalistic shots anyway,” says McFarlane.
Once he has his bases covered where the bridal party is concerned, it’s time to do what he was really hired for. “I try to make it a point to pull the bride and groom away for five to 10 minutes and let them get close and have fun while I’m out of the way, taking photos.”
That’s when McFarlane gets his characteristically detailed closeups of the couple interacting, their foreheads touching, his hand cupping her face. “And they are comfortable enough with me to do that because we’ve already spent so much time together by that point,” he says.
This comfort level is a result of a pre-wedding day engagement session where McFarlane not only gets to know the couple, but allows them to get to know him. “As elementary as that sounds, it’s pretty powerful,” says McFarlane, “By being myself around them, they laugh, ask questions, and chat about life.” In no time at all, McFarlane’s passion for his profession is readily apparent, and the couple is assured he has their best interests at heart.
Once trust is established, McFarlane offers the best advice he can give. “I tell them the best photos are the ones of you guys just being yourselves, so that’s what I want you to do. If you love my photos, you have to understand this is how I captured them.”
Setting the Stage
McFarlane has his own ways of provoking these tender moments. For example, he arranges to be present and camera-ready the very moment the bride and groom see each other in their wedding attire for the first time.
“During a beach wedding in Fort Lauderdale, we hid the groom and moved the bride to the entrance of a bridge at the event site. Then we had the groom close his eyes and walked him to the middle of the same bridge. As soon as the bride turned around and began her approach to him, instantly, tears flowed. “Those are the photos I live for,” says McFarlane. “That’s what the bride wants me to capture: the joy and emotion of seeing the person you want to spend the rest of your life with.”
In another setup, McFarlane actually blindfolded the groom and walked him over to where the bride was. He captured her excited expression upon seeing the groom and then removed the blindfold.
“They immediately embraced, her eyes were closed, her hand on his face, just phenomenal photos,” recalls McFarlane.
The Golden Ticket
Secondary to chronicling the emotions that occur throughout the event is
documenting the details of the event itself.
“When you spend so much money on your wedding, you want to see what you took out a second mortgage for,” McFarlane says, jokingly. “So I take elegant photos of the ring, the bouquet, the dress, invitations, table cards, and any kind of personal items dear to the bride and/or groom.”