places that together would embody an analysis of aspects of religion. I did not intend it to provide ethnographic data about a particular wedding. Thus, it elides the particular situation and history of the bride — Is she young or middle-aged? Is this her first or some subsequent marriage? What is her social class? — although cues in the photograph suggest answers to some of these questions.

The significance of this particular wedding for me was not what was most significant or meaningful for the bride or anyone else in the photograph. I can guess at what might have been in her mind at that moment, based on my experience of weddings and of the world, but I can’t know for certain. I could have asked her what she was thinking about, but I wouldn’t know if what she said was an accurate account of what was in her mind or one tailored to what she thought I wanted to hear. Besides, we don’t think only in words, only in images, only consciously. To communicate her thoughts, the bride would have had to translate them into words.

In any case, the event’s significance for her was not relevant for my purpose. It is not a photograph designed to “reveal” that kind of “reality.” Rather, the emphasis I gave the woman standing at the church door in her white wedding gown resulted from the place I had started and the subsequent path my research had taken. My perspective on this particular wedding, the significance I saw in it, the associations I made to it, evolved during my progress down that path, as had the way I made the photograph: where I stood, how I composed it, what I included in the frame, what lens I used (this was a decision about angle of view and the relative distance between and relative size of objects in the foreground and background), what was sharply focused and what was not, how I exposed and developed the film (which, among other things, affects the detail visible in the shadow and highlight areas and thus how white the dress looked).