A lifetime ago, when I had just landed my first professional photography job, I was best man at a friend’s wedding. During the reception he said, “You know you ought to give up this photojournalism lark and take up wedding photographer. That’s where the money is. Come out and have a look at the cars these guys are driving.” The photographers had an Aston Martin and a very new Jaguar.
I knew he was right, but the idea of shooting saccharine, sentimental pictures weekend after weekend and then laughing all the way to the bank, held no attraction for me. I couldn’t think of a faster way to get to hate photography than turning it into a repetitive task. Despite my friend’s gratuitous get-rich advice, I stubbornly maintained my course and have no regrets, even though along the way photojournalism has delivered some pretty lean times amongst the good.
It would be hypocritical of me, as a professional photographer, to say that photography has never been about money. After all money is still a pretty good measure of success. But the reality is that the camera, and an ability to use it with reasonable skill, has been for me, the key to life-experience and I value that far more. Where photojournalism fell short on the cash front, it more than made up for it in adventure.
This is just a preamble to say, I don’t do weddings…except as a favour for family and a few close friends. Still the few weddings I’ve photographed have provided me with some very satisfying photographs. Sure I’ll do the expected pictures to keep everyone happy; the traditional exchange of vows; register signing; cake cutting cliches and so on, but I always try to find at least one picture that goes beneath the surface of the event. Most of the time there is something there that will lift a wedding coverage out of the ordinary. Here are a three of my favourites…two from two weddings I shot within a couple of weeks last December, which just about fills my quota for the next twenty years. (Family and friends, please note!)
The wedding of my sister-in-law, Maylyn Lam to James Button in Melbourne.
This is one of my favourite wedding photos. I shot this about twenty years ago when I was invited by an orthodox Jewish rabbi I knew to photograph his wedding. With a nod to the author of Four Weddings and a Funeral, I call it Four Rabbis and a Wedding.