I have rarely agreed to take photos for someone's event, purely because I am not confident enough that I will deliver what they want. After all, I am not a professional photographer. Very far from it. But when my lovely cousin Emily asked me to bring my cameras along to her low-key beach wedding, it was quite something else; this was family. Once I had repeatedly warned her that I'm not really that good, and that any photos I take may not turn out very well - and after her own reassurance that she wasn't fussy and was not looking for anything spectacular - I wholeheartedly obliged. In fact, I was honoured. Honoured, and nervous.
I took all four of my film cameras - two SLRs and two lomos - with the idea to shoot colour and black and white simultaneously. I also borrowed a friend's point-and-shoot digital in order to bulk up the volume in case of any film-related disasters. When the day came around, I was feeling relatively prepared. My cameras were loaded and batteries were charged.
The conditions were bright and windy, posing two problems and one benefit: harsh shading, windblown faces and hair, and beautiful colours, respectively. It wasn't ideal for photos, but I supposed it was just a matter of making do with what we had.
On the plus side, everyone looked their beautiful best - none more so than the glowing bride Emily, whose magnificence is best captured in the photo at the top of this post. It's my favourite photo of her from the masses I took, because in addition to being a knockout, she looks so confidently happy. Which, I imagine, is exactly how a bride should look on the day of her wedding.
I found the 'essential' photos the most challenging - that is, photos of the actual ceremony, family portraits, the group photo - because I had such little control over the action. I don't doubt that a professional photographer would turn such restrictions into wonderful images, but these were probably my weakest. Which is not to say that they are awful - I quite like the above photo of the monumental kiss. But it is undoubtedly flawed: the sky is completely washed out and the bright sun has taken away a lot of the detail.
Colour was better for the ceremony because the glorious beach blues it captured prevent the white wedding party from blending into the background. I quite like the cropping of this one because it allows us to focus on Em and Dan's two gorgeous daughters, who took part in the ceremony with what seemed like equal parts excitement and mystification.
And as far as a family portrait - with all heads in the frame - goes, this is pretty hard to beat. What a lovely moment.
Here's another 'essential' photo that turned out beautifully. I think this one is irresistible because it is so perfectly classic. With the simple, timeless white dress, the nondescript white shirt and tie, the traditional pose (the masculine groom leaning down to kiss his petite bride, his large hands gently encasing hers) and the lovely black and white, it could easily be a photo of any newly-wedded couple from any decade. As such there is a nostalgia attached to this image (at least, for me) because it would be right at home in most people's family wedding albums.
While the essentials were essential, the photos I was most eager to take were those moments between official poses; the detail that goes on when people are preparing for the camera. When I accompanied Em and Dan and Co. to get ready for the ceremony, there were plenty of these, which I did my best to identify and chase. The moment above is probably the most precious to me - but tragically the window behind them knocked the exposure out and the resulting image is undefined and grey. On top of this, some dust has interfered with the scan leaving Emily with an unsightly ring on her forehead. Despite its aesthetic flaws, though, I still love this photo to pieces.
I don't think this is a brilliant photo technically speaking, but Daddy + Daughters looking expectantly up at the new (unseen) bride is a pretty priceless image.
And one of the irresistable princesses, patiently allowing her dress to be tied and re-tied by any number of flustered adults.
And this - my favourite of all the images I captured that day. The ceremony was over, and the girls were evidently having trouble with their shoes and needed to fix them, or remove them. (Maybe they had to pour out the sand.) And just like on any other day, they went straight to Mum for help. So here are two little angels, literally leaning on their mother - grabbing onto the pristine wedding dress that everyone else was afraid to touch for fear of soiling it. It's so special because it shows that untouchable relationship between a mother and her daughters, and while (again) it's not technically brilliant, I think it's near-perfect for the reasons described above.
It was a lovely day, and a wonderful celebration. There were a lot of photos that you don't see here that didn't work out very well, and it's easy to be disappointed by that. However, I hope there are enough successes that Emily and Dan will be able to compile a nice set of memories. I think there are.
(And I probably won't be agreeing to photograph another wedding any time soon. But I'm so very glad I was able to do this one.)