The Wedding of Mr & Mrs Carmichael
Usually I take photographs of sweaty people in bands. Mostly they're tattooed shouting men playing really loud music and who certainly look like they're playing loud music. Don't get me wrong, thats all well and good but sometimes you can't help but feel something less sweaty would be fun.
So I shot a wedding. Two of my wonderful friends were kind enough, and trusting enough, to ask me to photograph their special day even after I suggested they get someone who does actually know what they're doing instead. That's pretty fantastic of them. I take that vote of confidence very seriously.
Not least of all because I knew I ran the risk of them both choking me out if I failed to deliver the goods.
So, with my new assignment to document what’s potentially the most special day in the lives of two people who love each other in hand, I got to work. I watched loads of YouTube videos on wedding photo horror stories, read every essential list of how to shoot a wedding and made more than one pretty dubious mind map of my plan for the day.
Luckily I had an excellent helping hand in the form of a talented second shooter, who was a friend of the bride, to cover a lot of the details of the day and the bridal party getting ready. Which just left me with documenting the groom’s struggle with a kilt, the ceremony, the formals, the atmosphere of the day and the first dance. Didn’t seem entirely insurmountable and honestly it wasn’t, though I did spend much of the day worried I’d missed a key moment.
I left that worry behind at the bottom of a bottle of wine once all the proceedings were over right enough, so it all worked out ok in the end.
I’ve been in love. I think. Sometimes I can barely remember it was so long ago. Anyway, as a result, the concept of committing yourself to someone isn’t lost on me, I’ve seen it in so many of my friends too, but it’s a pretty intimate thing to be asked to document something like a wedding. To see that sort of enduring love up close.
Love is intense at the best of times but when it’s as intensely genuine and sincere as it is on a wedding day, and you see that first hand as you pose and spend time with the bride and groom…it’s quite affecting. If you can observe anything as beautiful as the moments I got the chance the capture and maintain any cynicism…then I’m sorry for you because you’re never going to feel how this couple felt on that day.
It’s a real privilege to get to use a camera to immortalise something like this. And slightly disheartening, though in an assuring way, to know that no photograph will ever live up to the beauty of the actual moments themselves. But we all have to aspire to something I guess.
In terms of the shoot something like a wedding is pretty foreign to me. For lack of a better term I am a photojournalist, I shoot what’s happening in front of me. It’s totally reactionary.
A wedding by definition is planned. It’s posed. To what degree depends on the photographer’s style, but you simply can’t rely on the idea those shots will just happen. You have to make them happen. That was a pretty steep learning curve for me. One I’m clearly still climbing.
The limitations of my gear were a bit unexpected too. I shoot entirely on prime lenses and I like how they force my hand compositionally. I have to move. I have to think. I don’t run the risk of lazily zooming from the one spot. On the other hand, if I suddenly realise I need my 85mm on and not the 50mm…it’s at best in my pocket or at worse in my bag on the other side of the room.
This did in fact, force a little creativity on more than one occasion throughout the day which ended with beautiful results, but I can’t pretend it’s the most effective way to do this sort of thing. But it is my way. So there.
My own lyrical waxing’s aside, it was a wonderful day just to see two of my friends, who are clearly incredibly happy together, make that permanent be able to celebrate that with those they love. They’ve both been very supportive of my stumbling journey down this photographic path, and the confidence they’ve shown in me to bring my camera to their special day means a lot. As a bonus, they also haven't choked me out as of yet.
I hope I get to photograph more days like this. Love is a many splendid thing and all that. And I am hopelessly romantic. I genuinely really enjoy getting to shoot something as earnestly sincere and simply wonderful as two people declaring that love for each other. It is one of the best things I can think of.
Weddings are a lot of things to a lot of people, but ultimately, they’re best served as a celebration of love in a world which, as cheesy as it sounds, forgets that far too often. If I were you, I’d embrace it at every opportunity.
Also it’s a great excuse to wear a sweet suit. And I’ll never pass up one of those.
Here’s to the ever enduring happiness of Mr & Mrs Carmichael. It’s completely deserved.
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