My friends Mike and Lisa got married a few weeks ago. I’ve known Mike for a couple of years now, and last year he and I shared a house in a small town in northern Papua New Guinea. He was instrumental in getting me under the water. I met Lisa through Mike. Lisa’s a writer, which is something I aspire to be, and a TCK, which is something I am and can’t do anything about, so we have an uncanny amount in common for two people who corresponded for nearly a year but only met face-to-face for the first time two days before the wedding.
Mike and Lisa invited me to take photos at the wedding. They already had a wedding photographer, which is good, because firstly, I can’t take posed portraits, and secondly, the idea of taking photos at anybody’s wedding is thoroughly terrifying. The thought of ruining somebody’s precious memories because my skills aren’t up to scratch is depressing at best. The thought of doing it at a friend’s wedding makes me sick to my stomach. But Mike and Lis just wanted me to take some photos around some of the events where the photographer wouldn’t be. I was still pretty hesitant, having never done this sort of photography, having never taken photos because I’ve been asked to before, and because there was definitely some pressure to perform on top of it all.
In the end, the experience was a good learning for me. I used my Canon 5D, which I’d used on perhaps three shoots prior to the weekend of the wedding, so there were definite teething problems associated with what the camera and lenses could and simply could not do, and what this photographer also could and could not do. I certainly didn’t come up with any award-winning shots. My approach, as is usual with any portraits I have the courage to shoot, was to stand on the sidelines and try and capture moments and expressions that I thought the bride and groom might like to remember. I was in the wedding party, so clearly the ceremony itself (not to mention the photos afterwards) were right out. I did most of the work with my 85mm f/1.8, a fantastic portrait lens that gives razor-sharp depth-of-field, and rocks my world in low-light settings. Not all the shots were as sharp as I wanted, which was mostly photographer’s error focussing on the wrong point of somebody’s face. But I ended up getting a few images I was quite pleased with, and I hope a few that Mike and Lisa will enjoy one day.
That said, I have no plans to start hiring myself out for future ceremonies, so don’t come a-knocking.
Incidentally, the wedding shoot itself was every photographer’s dream. After the ceremony, we went down to a nearby beach for the ‘formal’ shots (which I was a part of and therefore couldn’t actually take any shots of). The sky was broken with mixed evening cloud, and the sun was just breaking through at a sharp angle, but watered down by the haze. The sky was filled with dramatic, foreboding shapes, cracked by light and colour and texture. The light was just perfect to highlight the subjects (us) without washing out features or casting long ugly shadows, and the sky had so much interest that it made a wonderful backdrop that would still stay well within the dynamic range of the sensor. I actually thought the photog was going to pass out from overstimulation…