“A mind that is stretched by new experiences can never go back to it’s old dimensions.”
Oliver Wendell Homes
A few weeks a ago I stepped into the unknown and photographed my first wedding. What an experience that was and it isn’t over yet. It was roughly two years ago that a friend of ours approached me and told me (yes, told me) that I was going to photograph his wedding. We were drunk, so we embraced and thought nothing more of it. It wasn’t until some months later that we met again and sure enough he said the same thing, “Rob, you’re going to be our wedding photographer!”. But once again we were drunk, so we embraced and said nothing more about. It wasn’t until earlier this year that we met when we weren’t (that) drunk and we made it official that I would indeed be their wedding photographer. A two part wedding with the first leg in Thun, Switzerland and the second, much larger occasion in Osiek, Croatia this August.
Since making it official, I started gathering all the gear I would need, lenses, flashes, you name it, read through all my notes from every workshop I’ve been on, watched online tutorials, asked questions, literally anything I could do to prepare myself. Without shadowing a pro for a day, I genuinely believe I could not have been more prepared. But it wasn’t enough – nothing would have been enough in my opinion. Until you’ve experienced the organised chaos of a full wedding day yourself, I’m convinced no amount of equipment, online theory or learning can totally prepare you for it. It’s both physically and mentally draining. You’re always moving, consciously managing variables, each with many sub variables, like the quality of light, camera settings, posing, interesting compositions and locations, while all the time maintaining a friendly yet assertive dialog with the couple and guests and anticipating or reacting to the unexpected (oh they’re lighting sparklers inside now…). It’s a struggle doing something new, but as Daniel Coyle explains it in the Talent Code, a book I highly recommend, “struggle is not an option: it’s a biological requirement”. It’s what pushes us forward and expands our skill set. With one wedding struggle now under my belt, I’m already much better prepared for round two.
Throughout the day I endeavoured to capture foremost something that Danü and Meli would be happy with, but also something that I could be proud of. I’m confident that I am succeeding in my endeavours, certainly based on the reaction to their album anyway, but the most frustrating thing for me was not being able to capture my own images. What I mean is that I had to rely on things I had been taught by others, either in a workshop or from self learning, rather than letting my own creative expression come through. Sure there are hints of it in my images, but until I can submit 90% of the aforementioned variables to the subconscious I won’t be able to let that instinctive expression dominate in my photography. I ultimately imagine myself creating images that are playfully creative (which is evident in my street photography), well edited and most of all, technically very strong. This is what excites me the most about photography, it’s like engineering but with light. We’re building and designing structures using photons. At the basic level we include them to create lights or omit them to create shade, but when we start manipulating them (eg. reflections, flares etc) and adding composition and layering into the mix, it starts to look really special. To paraphrase Robert Frank, I want people to feel the way they do when they want to read a line of a poem twice, just by looking at my images. This is my goal with photography.
Anyway, I invite you to take a look at my first ever wedding. I loved it. I hope you do too.