The Wedding Book….
Posted on January 23, 2012
THIS POST IS A BIT DIFFERENT.
I promised myself I would never do another wedding related post. I’m breaking that promise. Why? I’m not entirely sure. I like weddings. I like photography. I THINK I’m writing this post because of what has happened AFTER this event. I’ve been called to do other shoots, three actually, and I said “no” to all of them. I’m done. I’m out. I won’t be shooting another wedding. What you are looking at here represents my final shoot. But, don’t feel bad, I’m just choosing to explore new ventures.
I had a long post written, and I’ll admit it was a bit preachy. I decided that the positive of this world far outweighs the negative so I’m breaking this down into essential information. Things like that cover image was handheld on a folding camera. I shot that image the day before the wedding as I scouted the location. I could FEEL and SEE this image coming and the idea of it consumed my entire being. I wanted it so bad I could taste it. I practiced my steady breathing, holding the camera to my eye, holding it, minute after minute until my non shooting eye was blurring and pained. The sky snapped and crackled and then broke loose. I nailed it, or maybe it was blind luck.
This shoot started with a great planner and a great client. Due to my past relationship with the planner I was encourage and given complete and total freedom to work how I pleased. I was given complete and total freedom by the client. I shot 100% film. I never touched a digital camera. I did the edit and design of this book.
This book is a Blurb 6×9, printed on color paper and is about 238 pages. It looks beautiful. It’s small, informal but yet tells the entire story. This book was in my mind the entire time I was at this event. Each press of the shutter representing a potential page, a potential critical piece of the puzzle.
What never enters my mind during a shoot like this is anything to do with the wedding world, industry, etc. I unlearn everything I’ve known about what I’m “supposed to do.” Otherwise, what comes out on these pages isn’t me. It’s someone else with my branding. I can’t allow that to happen. And besides, that would be boring. If you can’t open this book, know that it was me, then I failed the client and myself.
I should have been able to sell this post with one, two, maybe three images, but I thought I would bonk you on the head more than normal. This bonking is a way for me to stress to you the importance of doing what it is you do. However strange, however simple, as long as what you are doing behind that camera is how you truly feel. For me, I feel like Leica + Hasselblad + TRI-X + real moments. My subconscious mind is littered with the baggage of the wedding industry, but my front line mind pushes all this nonsense aside. And then I’m free.
I tile images. I don’t bring a strobe. I shoot one slow photograph at a time. I make each moment count. I put critical elements in the gutter. I put a lightning shot on the cover. I invent a title for the book. And I think….long and hard about how the event will unfold. I can’t sleep the night before. I rehearse how I will perform. I visualize. I know that when the bride and groom comes through this house at 4:13 PM they will be backlit going into a dark inside so I will drop the M6 and 50mm and will pick up the M6 and 35mm and my exposure will be 125th at 2.8 and I will have ONE chance at the photo.
I know that my longest lens is a 50mm so I will need to be close, very close but you see I can make myself invisible. I can be right in the middle and no one will know. I will be quiet yet the conversation in my mind will be deafening. I make plans for the light. Plan A. Plan B. Plan C and I secretly pray for rain. Rain makes good photographs. It rained at my wedding. Some people think it means good luck. For me it meant getting wet.
There are other photographers working here, which is a load off my mind. We all meet prior and discuss the plans for the photographic invasion. I guess I’m a squad leader but when the snapping starts we are all basically on our own. I like this part of the process and I like watching other photographers work. I wonder if they too are talking to themselves.
The camera goes “clunk,” “clunk,” “clunk” one slow, laborious photo at at time. I can see people watching me as I load and reload and reload the Hasselblad. I think maybe they think I’m crazy until someone comes over and says, “I am so happy to see you shooting film.” “I love film.” Me too.
There are certain things I do not take for granted. This is a HUGE day. This day means so much to so many and I have a responsibility. I owe a lot to many but the critical factor is making THESE images. It might not seem like it on the surface but after the smoke has cleared and the glasses have been cleaned and reboxed there are only a few things that will remain. Love. Family. Life. Photographs.
I break the day into mental boxes. I see four phases I will need to live. I will be four different people. I will be the location. I will be the preparation. I will live the ceremony and then I will end the night as the celebration. Little boxes, tiny boxes checked off my list. Being in the now is what I concentrate on. Then my load gets a little lighter and I move on. It works for me. It may or may not work for you.
I always put the film in the same pocket of the same bag. As the light changes color and gets lower I take my first look at how swollen the pocket is. It feels great. And the best part is not knowing. Not being entirely sure. I can’t, after all, see any of it. “I’m sure you got so many great images,” people say as they stare at the pile of film. “You never know,” I answer. “My fingers are crossed and tonight I will light a candle.”
I’m married, so the actual process of what is happening is not lost on me. I see things that other people miss. That is my job. I see the light. And I know there will be little to no memory of a lot of this stuff, at least without me being here. I remember almost nothing of my wedding. I do remember the rain. I do remember I looked and felt like Herman Munster in my stiff suit. I could see the relevance in the faces around me. The ceremony wasn’t just for my wife and I, it was for everyone. I feel the same way about this wedding, all the weddings. They are greater than the sum of the parts. They mean more. They last forever.
My breath comes in short gasps. My clothes are soaked with sweat. I drink Coke. I never drink Coke but I do now, by the gallon. My hands are twitchy. I can feel the caffeine and sugar fueling the rest of my night. All around me is fun. Lots and lots of people having fun.
I get home and a few days later I get the email saying the work is online. I download. I edit, sort, print. And then comes this book. I know the sequence in my head. I work quickly. I’ve done many books. I like simple, clean and graphic. I mix the somewhat expected with the completely foreign. The book is my final reminder of why they hired me. It should make people think. Like putting lightning and storm on the cover.
The book is fat. The book is small. The paper is white, uncoated and reproduces the imagery really well. I know this book is going to look good long before I see it. Then the doorbells rings and I hear the Fedx truck racing off into the distance. “Hmm, I wonder what that could be,” I ask myself as I tear a hamstring RACING to the front door. It never gets old. Now it’s official. There is a book.
So, if you ever wondered what does through my head during something like this..now you know. I can’t stress enough how important great planner/great client really is. Without those two elements..these images, this book do not happen. I would love to tell you who the planner is but I know if I put their name on this post……the crazies(photographers) might try to contact this person. Would they ever forgive me? If you haven’t seen or made one of these trade sized books you should give them a try.