I know a bit about love, weddings and relationships. I’ve been around for a while, seen some things, experienced others and it’s all made me a better wedding photographer. Today marks a milestone in my life and it’s another thing that will make me a better man as well as a better photographer. Today is my wedding anniversary. My 10th wedding anniversary.
Ours was not a whirlwind romance. Not a firecracker rise that bursts spectacularly. It was a slow burn. A solid reliable bonfire that keeps burning, providing warmth and protection. Leonie and I met at University. We went out for a while and broke up. Years later we got together again. There was no hurry to get married. To be honest, I can’t remember the exact timing but we were together for around 6 or 7 years before getting engaged. Our engagement was another 18 months. All in all, we’ve known each other for over 20 years.
Since becoming a couple we’ve travelled the world, moved from Sydney to Northern NSW, bought a house, got a dog, sold a house, bought another, had a daughter, had another daughter, had family members die and have been to a zillion weddings.
This morning I was looking at our wedding photos. There’s a big hoo ha in the world of wedding photography at the moment as to what makes good wedding photos, and how weddings should be styled. What’s good, what’s bad and what’s irrelevant.
Have our photos stood the test of a decade? They were shot on film. Photographers who never shot film now seem to think shooting film, or making photos ‘look like’ they were shot on film is cool. I’ve got news for them. Properly exposed and processed film photography is indistinguishable from properly exposed and processed digital photography.
That yellow tinted ‘vintage’ look so popular today among ‘trendy’ photographers is because some old photos were processed cheaply using bad chemicals. It’s a trend that is going mark photos as being from 2010 / 2011. Just as cross processing points to 1996-1998, titled horizons scream 1998-2000, selective colouring is soooo 2005, texture overlays 2008-2009, an abundance of babies breath (it’s a flower) says early 1990s and so on.
My wedding and the wedding photos were never meant to be deliberately cool. There are no running and jumping shots. No ‘first look’ before the ceremony. No ‘pick up the bride’. No ‘peek around the tree’. No ‘everyone wearing sunglasses’. No ‘bend over forward with your bouquet and show some cleavage’. It wasn’t a ‘blingy’ wedding. We had candles. Lots and lots of candles. Natural and romantic without the hippy hessian.
My wife’s dress is like her; stylish and elegant. I’m wearing a classic dinner suit. No crazy tie or bold shirt. No Chuck Taylor sneakers. Nothing zany. I respect my wife way too much to wear ‘ironic’ clothes to our wedding. You may think it’s great to express yourself, but trust me. Dressing like a trendy fashionista hipster is just going to make you look like a goose in a decade.
Back to the photos. When I shoot a wedding, I am not producing images for the bride and groom. I am taking photos for generations yet to come. Solid imagery that will pass the test of time. When a wedding album leaves my studio it’s something I would want to keep for myself. My name goes inside those wedding albums. It will be there forever. I wanted a photographer who would shoot what I wanted, the way I wanted, the way I shoot for my clients. In effect, I art directed my own wedding photography. Before I got married I contacted every single wedding photographer in the Northern Rivers. (To this day two of them believe all I was doing was getting their package details and trying to put them out of business). Most were completely inflexible with their packages. Some just didn’t seem to have a clue – like the woman who had no idea what type of film she used. In the end, I chose a part time photographer called Gary Schneider to shoot my wedding. I controlled what got photographed and how it was done. I knew he’d nail the exposures. I paid him extra to shoot more, and I got all the negatives. 10 years on, my anniversary gift to my wife was our wedding album. I finally got around to making it.
Our wedding album is gorgeous. It’s a 7×10″ album with white traditional matting from Queensberry with a black leather cover. Made with the exact same care, love and attention that the wedding albums of all my clients get.
Our wedding photographs show us being ourselves. A couple in love. Relaxed, smiling, hugging, kissing, laughing. Not standing stiffly and emotionless. Not posed like a fashion shoot. Our photos aren’t full of irrelevant details from the wedding. It’s us, at our wedding. They could have been shot last weekend, 40 years ago or maybe 20 years in the future. I’ll be happy for my great grandkids to see them and am confident no-one will ask “what were they thinking wearing/doing that”.
By the way. Our ceremony was at St Andrews in Lismore and our reception was at The Figree in Byron Bay. Here are a couple of pics:
Oh, one quick last thing. You know what is cool and will always be cool for a guy to wear to his wedding?
A black bow tie. But not a clip on. A real one. Learn to tie a proper bow tie. Your wife will notice. Her friends will notice – and their boyfriends and husbands will be in trouble for not being real men.