Yesterday someone asked me to describe my most interesting or strangest wedding photography experiences. I thought of a few, but nothing came close to the poignancy of photographing my own sister’s wedding and, whilst pondering its significance to my life and career, I stumbled across my own ideas of why I photograph weddings. I’ll start first by indulging you in the story of my sister’s wedding.
It was a sweltering day in August 2009; my sister had just turned eighteen last month and is 7 months pregnant with her first child. I had offered to photograph it as she had no money for anything fancy and was to get married at the registry office in Swindon (UK) and then going back to my parent’s house for a small buffet. Only our extended family was there (Mum, Dad, Brother, Aunts, Uncles and Grandparents) as well as the Grooms family in even lesser proportion. It was such a modest occasion, but my sister walked through the corridor with a beaming smile like nothing I had seen upon her face before.
There is one photo, which sits on my parents mantelpiece, of my sister after signing the register standing with her new husband that is the most significant when I think of the wedding. The memories aside, this photograph says everything about the day; the white walls of the registry office, a couple of plastic flowers each side and her smile, that is so intense that you can tell this is the happiest day of her life. She had actually burst out laughing at the time from some comment from a relative and her joy is frozen on this printed picture.
I realised whilst thinking of this image that photography is one of the most important parts of any wedding. Regardless of all beautiful details that I photograph at each different
wedding; regardless of the cake, the rings, the flowers, the church, the dress or the offerings, the biggest thing for me is the people. Photographing the people and allowing them to respond to my camera and show me, convince me, that this the happiest day of their lives. I think that even if you can’t afford anything for your wedding, make sure you savour the moment with at least a photograph. This photograph will remind you of, not just how good you looked but, how happy you truly are!
My Sister and Gary