Excerpt from SHUTTERBUG
Eight Wedding Pros Tell How to Capture the Moments
PHIL CANTOR: DEFINING MOMENTS
by Barry Tanenbaum
Ten years ago, after a 20-year career as a corporate and industrial photographer, Phil Cantor switched to weddings. He shoots with 35mm equipment in a style "some people call photojournalism, but I call a candid approach."
"I have no formulas -- they kill spontaneity. I do the formal portraits that are part of the family's history, but everything else is done in a candid style. I'm not set in any pattern, and I don't come in with a shot list. I'm constantly moving throughout the room, watching the action develop around me, and I'm documenting it. I don't do table shots -- photographers do them just to make sure they've got everybody at the wedding. I get everybody, but I do it my way.
"What makes it work for me and sets me apart is that I'm flexible and I'm quick. My eye looks for relationships, for poignant moments. Basically I'm looking for spontaneous things that are happening all around me. Weddings are perfect for those moments -- with all those people, those family histories, things are going to happen.
"For the most part, what I know is how to be unobtrusive. From experience, observation, and reading the room, I know where things are going to develop. I'm going to see two people who haven't seen each other in 15 years meet and embrace; siblings who have been apart for a while; college roommates meeting up again; people laughing, crying, all their emotions playing out. I can guarantee that's going to happen. There are also weird things that happen -- tensions between mother and daughter and among people who haven't spoken in 15 years.
"The 'getting ready' pictures are very important. Some of the greatest moments happen during that time because there's an anxiety level building, a lot of mother-daughter things happening.
"The staged events -- the cake-cutting, bouquet toss, first dance -- are just that -- staged, and they don't really define the couple. What defines a couple and the personality of a wedding are all the spontaneous things that happen in the far corners -- stuff away from the spotlight, so to speak. That's what I want to get."