Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Wedding

Not long after reading this post on Damon Coulter's blog, I was asked to photograph a wedding. Believing myself to be up to the job, I said yes. In hindsight, I should have said yes after a pause.

It's not that I mind working from 8 till 2:30 without a break, then dashing to my designer friends to download the data before the after wedding party. Neither do I mind the fact that they asked me because they knew me and hoped I would do it cheaper than the hotel (not difficult).

What should have made me pause for thought was knowing that they not only wanted snaps, but also wanted them for an album which I was to produce, and although I have taken a few nice photos in my time, even some that have made a passable series, an album is a series that you shoot in a day.
The wedding began with traditional dress, and the couple entered the dining room after a short ceremony and a studio shoot in the hotel studio (not me). The dining room is variously lit, the routes are set, the whole event is choreographed and despite having attended the planning meeting I got caught out on more than one occasion as the curtains suddenly opened to reveal the backdrop of Nagoya castle, or the lighting suddenly changed and so changed the light settings I was working with.
This would have all been routine for the hotel cameraman who must have done the whole gig a thousand times, but not for yours truly. I woke the next morning with the unnerving feeling that too many of my shots were badly lit, too many had been out of focus and the album would be a no go. I dashed round to see the designer who I have worked with before and sure enough many of them were. The album, however, seems to be a goer.
I found myself lacking in many ways that day, but it was experience, and as a friend said before the wedding "well, it's digital, so you'll be o.k". What I have working in my favour is Atsuko, the designer, who like professor Dumbledor will provide the phoenix (photoshop) that will cry on my wounded images. Oh, and there are also some shots that stand on their own.


Damon said...

Well done Nick, that is a hard gig for sure. You got some nice images there. I expecially like the back lit one with the light just right on the groom`s face. To me there is always a great deal of stress with such a shoot, you know it is a once in lifetime/one time only chance to take great and memorable shots that people will be looking back on and expecting to feel emotions from for the rest of their lives and, as such, expectations are sometimes unreasonably high. Perhaps even more so when they are friends in front of the camera.
I tend to be hard on myself in such situations too, trying always to get the pictures they would want, the ones in their dreams(again especially if they are friends in front of the camera).
In Japan the whole thing has to look professional too, big lenses and cameras, idol lifestyle denial and papparazzi fantasies.
And yet it is also rushed and cheesy, it would be easier to do a reportage on the tackiness say than to take pictures of beauty and dignity, but though the style has to be photojournalistic these days (mostly) there has to be the smiley happy memories attached to those candids and the dignity, always the dignity even as the groom`s Saturday night fever tux reflects the flash in a million tiny over exposures and the "priest`s" English teaching tattoos smart loudly (unseen before, on the day) out of the RAW contact sheet. And then you have to edit quickly; bind and professionally present a coffee table book of the day that everyone is looking to you to give some monocromatic gravitas too.
You did well mate, really really well and hope you get a few more gigs. If you feel like going through all that again.
Talk soon

Nick Benwell said...

I posted three pics out of more than 500. Percentage wise I don't think I did do so well. 勉強になった。
The shot you like was taken as the couple walked between the tables after the change to western outfits, and I stopped them with the spotlight behind them.

Alex said...

haha Yeah, it's a nightmare, isn't it? Looks like you got some great shots though, I wouldn't be too hard on yourself. We got the photos back from ours and let me tell you, this guy does it for a living, but about 1/3 were not even close to being in focus. You did a great job under the circumstances. Can't wait to see the rest.