Of Photography, Weddings and Doing The Right Thing: A Day In The Life Of A Wedding Photographer
I am an event photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. I photograph bar and bat mitzvahs, weddings and other personal and business events.
I was contracted to photograph the wedding of the son of a local family who had actually married his new wife in Italy. Roger is an international business consultant, and fell in love with Fatima on one of his many visits to Italy. They were married over there, presumably out of respect for her family. Roger’s family asked that he participate in a traditional Jewish wedding ceremony stateside so that his mother and father (scions in the local Temple) would be able to properly celebrate the union.
The event promised to be a little out of the ordinary due to the interesting circumstances surrounding their relationship. Among other things, Roger speaks very little Italian, and Fatima’s English is very limited.
My contact for the event (a good friend and marvelous wedding planner named Marcia) called me the day before the wedding and said “I have bad news.” I suspected the worst, but, in fact, the wedding was to proceed. However, there was a new wrinkle added at the very last moment. Roger’s mother had been ill for quite some time prior to the wedding, and had been in hospital for weeks. She had been released the week of the wedding in anticipation of her son’s big “simcha”. Unfortunately, she had an accident that landed her back in the hospital just days before the wedding.
After considerable consultation with the family and the Rabbi (who is very close with the family), they made a decision that afforded me one of the more interesting photographic opportunities I’ve ever had in this kind of event. This was their plan: the wedding would proceed with Roger’s father but without his mother, but once the wedding and reception were over, the Rabbi and the family (and I) would drive down to the hospital and re-enact the wedding for the benefit of his mother.
Now, aside from the obvious logistical hurdles, there were other complications. Marcia the wedding planner asked me (ever so thoughtfully) if it would be at all possible to bring photographs of the wedding and reception to the hospital. One hour or so after the wedding and reception. Prints. Yikes! Well, I’ve made some artisitic and technological miracles happen on demand, but this one promised to be most interesting. And to add to the intrigue, all this happened so late that I was unable to round up an assistant in time, so I was going to have to fly “solo” for the day.
The wedding began with the customary late arrival of the bride and groom, but once underway, it had all the charm and sentimentality of a traditional Jewish wedding. The Ketubah (wedding contract) was signed, the appropriate blessings were made, songs were sung, dances were danced, more blessings were made, tears were shed, and, in the grand tradition most familiar to many people, a glass was broken with great flourish to seal the deal.
A hora was danced with bride and groom aloft connected by a small bit of fabric, a luncheon was served for the 75 or so in attendance, more blessings were made, kisses and hugs were exchanged freely and with great gusto, and, finally, as things began to wind down, I began my miracle work.
I sequestered myself in the synagogue in the hopes that my proximity with the Allmighty might hasten the mechanical workings of my poor little printer. Wired up with a complete one hour photo lab I began the meticulous task of sorting through the several hundred photos I took during the previous several hours of events. Carefully choosing about 15, I post-processed them, delicately adjusting colors and other “issues”, while being interrupted every 10 minutes or so by somebody saying “can you just get one more shot of…” as some newsworthy event was transpiring next door in the Social Hall. Finally my mobile print lab started churning out the prints at the rate of one every two minutes or so.
Just as I thought I was ahead of the curve, the Rabbi dropped by. He was quite amazed by what I was doing, and offered his praise. Then he told me they were moving the schedule forward a little, and we were all planning to leave for the hospital in about a half an hour. I had six cases of equipment to pack up, a half dozen more photos to print, and almost no time to do it. Of course, I somehow made it work, and in a half hour I was waiting in my car outside for the entourage to depart.
The hospital is just down the street from the Temple. I was concerned about all my equipment and its potential to interfere with any of the delicate and sensitive equipment in the hospital, so I only brought one camera body and one lens (a very wide one) and no lighting gear.
The trip through the hospital following a bride and groom with flowers and camera in hand was pretty funny. I was struck by the vision of some poor patient seeing Fatima in her flowing gown and fainting dead away thinking that the Angel of Death had come for them.
Once in Sylvia’s hospital room, the Rabbi proceeded to re-administer his blessings on the (now thrice) lucky couple, much to the delight of all in attendance. Roger’s sisters, brother, mother and father, nephews and brother in law were all there, along with the couple and one throroughly bemused photographer. Fatima sang “Amore” in Italian for Sylvia, as she did at the reception. The family managed to get Sylvia out of bed for a bit and many family photographs were taken.
It was an experience for the ages.
For those interested in the technical details of the hospital photographs, they were all made with available light in RAW format with the Canon EOS 1D Mark II dialed up to ISO 1600 and the Canon EF 16-35/2.8 lens. Images were converted to JPEG in Capture One with default noise reduction and sharpening.
No retouching or editing of any kind was done with any of the photographs on this page.
copyright © 2005 steve maller photography :: all rights reserved