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.
This is from the wedding of my old friend, Bruce Best’s (see In the eye of the beholder and The eye of the beholder part 2) daughter Kate, in Sydney last December.