Behind the photo: Blurred dancers - Blog
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Wedding couple on the dance floor at La Toundra hall on Jean-Drapeau island

Behind the photo: Blurred dancers

When inspiration strikes… 

I love looking through old National Geographic mags for inspiration. It’s part nostalgia, because I used to love paging through my dad’s collection of dusty magazines. But now, as a wedding photographer, I always find it refreshing to draw ideas from outside the wedding-industry bubble…whether it’s from magazines, art or movies. Recently, I fell in love with this photo from the August 1977 issue of National Geographic, photographed by Nick Kelsh.

A torn photo from National Geographic of a couple kissing in an airport. Photo by Nick Kelsh.

What’s so special about this photo?
See the ghost-like people walking behind the couple kissing in the airport? The photographer used a slow shutter speed to blur the motion of the crowd around the couple. The couple, who remained still, are frozen and captured on film. This isolated them visually and drew attention to their story in the image.

Adapting the idea to wedding photography
I thought this idea would translate well to a wedding reception, especially during the dancing, where there are many people moving around. I would just have to ask the couple to stand very still in the middle of the dance floor, while people danced and moved around them.

Wedding couple on the dance floor at La Toundra hall on Jean-Drapeau island

Experiments in real life
I got the chance to try it out this summer at a wedding at the La Toundra hall on Jean-Drapeau island. La Toundra has a 2nd level overlooking the dance floor, which gave me a great vantage point. Marie-Hélène and Louis, the bride and groom, were more than willing to try this idea, and patiently stood still on the dance floor as I snapped a few long-exposure shots.

Here are my settings for the technically-curious:
Shutter speed: 1/4 sec
Aperture: f4
ISO 1600

This is one technique I’ll be adding to my bag of tricks for future weddings! I love how it highlights the wedding couple, while also sharing the feeling of dancing and celebration.

Bride and groom standing still on the dance floor as others move around them