London Wedding : Vanessa & Osiris : Part One

I used to check the weather forecast on an almost daily basis, part and parcel of seeing what the day had in store for me. Then I started photographing weddings. And I stopped checking weather forecasts. There’s nothing I can do to change what will be, I have to be prepared for any circumstances regardless, and worrying never solved anything.

Then the day before Vanessa & Osiris’s London wedding I stumbled across a plot spoiler, a meteorological synopsis, on Twitter. Three months worth of rain predicted over the three coming days.

That would be an awful lot of rain then? I have to be prepared for any circumstances. Regardless. Three months worth of circumstances though?

I packed a spare pair of socks in my camera case. I was all set to go.

It doesn’t matter what the weather’s like though when you have clients that shine. That’s not me sweet-talking. I’m an enthusiastic adherent of objective truth. Vanessa and Osiris certainly shine. That’s a metaphor, I suppose. It’s also an objective truth. The weather report turned out to be untrue. Not so much a malicious un-truth as a prediction, more so an estimate, that didn’t come to be. And I have one less pair of socks to launder this week. Than might have been the case, that is.

I wonder sometimes if I think too loud…

Vanessa and Osiris hail from Venezuela, live and work in London (making magic, in films, with Double Negative), were both students in my cinematography lectures at the National Centre for Computer Animation a number of years back, though during different years, thus they didn’t actually meet back then. They met back in Venezuela through common friends; friends they had in common and quite spectacularly, exuberantly uncommon friends as I was to discover later that day. When the two decided to marry, Vanessa recalled a presentation I’d delivered on my personal photographic work, in particular a section where I compared wedding photographs with a series of images taken from a visual narrative essay I’d been putting together on Muay Thai. If that juxtaposition wasn’t going to stick in your mind, nothing would and stick in her mind it did. And here I found myself, photographing her and Osiris’s wedding day. I didn’t witness any boxing this time around, though I did witness a spectacular pair of boxer… actually they were more akin to cycling shorts. On a boat. On a canal. I have photographs.

Alongside planning an epic wedding day Vanessa and Osiris set about their first home purchase, completing on the contract and moving in to their new home two weeks before the big day. A massive feat of mental stamina and emotional endurance, if you ask me (though a combination of logistical undertakings seemingly common to quite a number of my clients, the record being held by the couple who completed on their home purchase on the very morning of their wedding day).

Amongst the disarray of home moving (well, Vanessa described it as disarray; to me it was an example of the level of array I dream of achieving in my own living space) it was a delight to see all the items that, clearly of great import to the two of them, had already found their places on walls and on shelves. With each picture, each model, each item of whatever description, Vanessa could relate a story of when Osiris had bought it for her, or she for him, or they together, or it had been received from a friend and where they had lived or moved to when it came into their possession. It was an uplifting example of how things can have meaning, great meaning beyond just being pleasing to look at. It was beautiful to see a home in the making.

Not that I needed affirmation of my being in the right place, amongst the right people for me to be amongst…

It’s always a pleasure to watch a true artist go about her work. Elbie van Eeden on hair and make-up…

I’m always on the look out for an interesting configuration of space and framing and when I find something interesting, I’ll wait for something additionally interesting to complete the picture, for someone to inhabit the vacant frame within a frame doing something contextually befitting of the scene. I’ll wait as long as is necessary. As long as is necessary to work out that whilst there are four of us in the apartment, one of us is behind the camera, two of us are already occupying one of the frames doing something contextually befitting and the fourth party really wouldn’t have any need to be upstairs and was, indeed, sat on the sofa in the living room. Maths never was my strong point…

Vanessa’s mission briefing: lots of hair; lots and lots of hair; too much hair for what she wanted to wear, so it needs hiding away, somewhere…

And mission fantastically well accomplished. I never knew that so much hair could be hidden, in your hair. Rewarded with chocolate the quality of which I didn’t know existed…

It wouldn’t have been photo-journalistically ethical of me to suggest that Ju Hee, Vanessa’s maid of honour, pop upstairs for no apparent reason then walk back down again carrying something contextually befitting so I could complete my vision of a double framed image. Aside from that, Vanessa now had her back to the doorway I’d earlier positioned myself beyond, so she could be facing the window for make-up. I was perfectly happy though to photograph Ju Hee sat where she was, doing what she did fantastically well throughout the day, providing Vanessa with moral support (she was a dab hand with logistics too)…

Fur Coat No Knickers…

I wish someone had been on hand to photograph the manner in which Vanessa and I managed to hang it up there. Heath Robinson would have been proud…

And it was time for me to move onto my next destination on the wedding day map (designed by Ana Patricia Laya, a friend of Vanessa and Osiris’s and printed onto marvellous unbleached cotton bags that were presented to all the guests as keep-sakes, with some equally marvellous gifts inside. As predicted, the little one has already commandeered mine)…

… by taxi. Yes, it’s a bus…

… to witness the tying of the knot. A literal one. Not the metaphorical one…

Meet Osiris. Middle name, Sartorial…

I suspect Osiris’s father thought that a bowler hat might look even better back in Venezuela.

A little later I was waiting outside the York & Albany for Vanessa’s arrival, cameras slung from shoulders, when a man called to me from across the street, “Is he in there?” “I’m here for a wedding,” I responded. “Ah! I thought you were pap.” “I’m too smartly dressed to be pap,” I laughed. “I was going to mention that,” he concluded. Meanwhile, earlier, back to the now…

Friends descended from Venezuela, from LA, from places nearer and far, old friends of Vanessa and Osiris, work colleagues from around the world; they’d promised me characters that would fuel my craft, and they delivered…

Nerves of steel…

Earlier, back at the apartment, Vanessa had asked me if she should look at the camera or ignore it. I told her that she should do whatever she felt was appropriate to the moment, that I was there to relate the story of whatever was happening, as it happened, I wasn’t invisible thus I would be there, in the scene, and if it seemed natural to interact with me at any point then that was part of what was going on (I always have abundant opportunity to document scenes with a seemingly invisible touch, anyway). It does always throw me an amusing curve ball though when, having not pasted the right wallpaper onto my suit that morning, I receive eye contact from one or other of the couple during the ceremony phase of the day. It’s a curve ball I can catch though…

Vanessa and Osiris’s ceremony was simple and sincere (and rather amusing in the pace and timing of Vanessa’s consenting to the marriage vows :~)

Looks like I caught Nestor napping again…

Rafael took an early and possibly decisive lead in the most expressive guest sweepstake (the rabbit ears during the register signing was a stroke of genius too)…

One of many things that impressed me about Vanessa & Osiris’s wedding day was the manner in which they managed to pack in a significant amount of experience in a manner so un-pressured that everything seemed timeless. Maybe it’s a Latino thing at work. It’s certainly something I’ve encountered in the more latin climes of Europe. There was no great hurry to move from one aspect of the day to the next; plenty of time to linger, absorb and digest everything that was taking place. Post-ceremony, everyone stayed on a while at the York & Albany to mingle, chat and…

… eat a little. It was a day that wasn’t just punctuated by food. It was underscored by food. Wrapped up in inverted commas. Italicised. Rendered bold. “Food, glorious food,” it sang on the palette…

Yet again…

I see that my reputation preceded me…

For having a fast shutter finger. Of course.

But winding back a minute or so, just to prove that I’m not always seeking to catch people in their most, well, in that way that always seems to just happen in front of my lens…

Anyway.

To make up for the fact it didn’t rain…

In the short space of time since I suggested in a wedding feature that rice isn’t the kindest material to use in place of throwing confetti (having seen it used just once in all the weddings I’d photographed up to that point) it has now featured in the majority of weddings that I’ve photographed since. Perhaps I shouldn’t have said anything :~) Good thing Osiris brought a helmet with him…

On the subject of confetti, I find this interesting, from the Wikipedia entry: “The Ven. Thomas Dealty, rector of St. Mary’s Church, Swillington 1872-1878, is credited with having introduced the habit of throwing confetti at weddings, from his observation of rice thrown at Hindu weddings in his previous position as Archdeacon of Madras.”

There you have it, and sailing on to Part Two >>>

Contact London Wedding Photographer Phillip Allen : phill@misterphill.com : 07870 696248

Nestor Perez - Phillip, you are great! so amazing! love your style and works! :-)= thank you for the wondeful day too! ;-)=

Amy Wass - Fantastic storytelling as always Mr P

Rachael - Absolutely amazing photos! I’m off to part two.

steven carter hewson - Phillip, such wonderful work. Truly enjoyed looking through these and, as ever, your writing amused me greatly. Top work, Sir.

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