Upon reflection

Katherine Williams’ wedding portfolio took top honours at the Iris Awards—a testament to her ability to work fast.

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It was a very long Catholic service, and Katherine Williams had already nailed her brief. After more than a decade shooting weddings as part of Christchurch’s Tandem Photography, she has a pretty good idea of what couples want—and she can get it done quickly. She’d captured everything she needed from the ceremony, and there was plenty of time left to play around, so she circled the chapel, looking for something more offbeat to capture.

“Because it was a reflection, I just locked down to manual focus because it was way too risky to autofocus. I knew exactly what I wanted at that stage, and it was just anticipating that the alignment of the reflection and the positioning of the couple would all come together in that split second.”

In the foyer, she noticed a large statue of Jesus—impossible to get into a decent picture because of its position in the church’s reception area. But she noticed the statue’s reflection in the internal window separating her from the congregation. It looked like Jesus was hovering above the wedding guests. Williams figured she could capture the figure floating above the couple as they walked down the aisle—if she got her timing right.

The moment the service ended, she captured her ‘safe’ shots—the couple’s jubilant smiles as they started down the aisle—then raced back to her mark for photographing Jesus. “Because it was a reflection, I just locked down to manual focus because it was way too risky to autofocus,” she says. “I knew exactly what I wanted at that stage, and it was just anticipating that the alignment of the reflection and the positioning of the couple would all come together in that split second.”

Having time left over to play is crucial to Williams’ sense of creative fulfilment. “I’m quite fast, as a shooter, so if I can achieve something that I know will tick all the boxes in terms of satisfying the clients, then I’ll be focused on making sure that I create some of the work that I want to create,” she says.

Experimentation with reflections was a common theme in the portfolio that took home the overall title at the NZIPP Iris Awards in June. A bank of windows in an abandoned hospital in Hamner Springs created the illusion of the bride and groom being in separate rooms. Casting her own shadow on a window served to compress the bridesmaids outdoors and the flower girl indoors into the same picture.

Williams says she also experiments with subtly separating husband and wife within their photos—she’s interested in finding ways to portray them as individuals, not just as a couple.

“What I’m trying to achieve in my photographs is definitely creating a feeling,” she says. “I’m in love with photographs that make me feel something.”

See more at: tandemphotography.co.nz