Thus read the subject line of the introductory email I received from Dan. Somehow it evoked in me a memory of the time, many years ago, that I purchased a chocolate covered confectionary product that happened to have a promotional competition emblazoned on the wrapper. The memory served a counter-balancing rather than an associative function, I’ll add before proceeding. On opening the wrapper I found the words inside, “You’re a loser.” It was a number of years before I bought the same product again. The power of words hey? 41 emails made their way back and fore with that subject line – Great Photos, not “You’re a loser” – and I must admit I enjoyed the positive reinforcement each time I saw it pop up in my email inbox.
41 emails isn’t the norm for progressing from initial enquiry to the actual photographing of a wedding; it transpired that we had a great deal more to discuss, about logistics and my identity amongst other things. All will become apparent. It was 41 emails though before a new thread commenced under the subject line Jekyll and Hyde (5 emails). That was about my identity. I might need to explain that sooner rather than later. Soon the subject line changed to Oops I did it again (13 emails) which had a profound impact on my internal juke box each time a new message popped up. Other subject lines included Mug Shot, Best Wedding Invitation. Ever., Flights and Stationery, Phew (9 emails),Business Cards, and Important passenger information for your booking. It’s been quite a journey. It involved quite a journey.
Rommalee & Dan planned to marry in Dorset and celebrate on a hillside overlooking Corfe Castle on the Isle of Purbeck. I was very much looking forward to honouring the commission to photograph their wedding. I call these things commissions but in the best cases they are collaborations.
There was a shift in plans though. A big shift. Rommalee & Dan decided to change the location of their wedding, to take it all to the place where they’d become engaged, from a hillside overlooking Corfe Castle to a town on a hill (and that’s an understatement) overlooking the Andalucian countryside in the South of Spain. They asked if I might be able to make it there to tell the story. I struggled with that one.
Important passenger information for your booking (4 emails).
Vejer. Vejer de la Frontera. Quite a way to go for a wedding and more than worth the journey. I must say I was impressed with easyJet. Well done Mr. Haji-Ioannou, you clearly do well by your staff because they’re a happy, attentive, hospitable bunch. I’m a fan of your bacon baguettes too. At £4.00 on an aircraft I was expecting something limp, albeit necessary as unlike the lady sat next to me I’d not thought to bring a packed lunch along. I wasn’t expecting the best tasting bacon baguette I’ve ever had. Lots of legroom too. Two and a half hours from Malaga to Vejer in a hire car made for a perfectly pleasant experience as well. I had harboured some trepidation regarding that part of the journey. Mediterranean driving. Not for the faint hearted. Having lived and worked and indeed driven for a few months in the South of France I’d grown accustomed to a people very laid back on foot but something else altogether behind the wheel (unless it was to do with the fact that I was driving a primrose yellow classic mini with a GB sticker on the back). I’ve never driven in Italy. PJ O’Rourke, whose politics I loathe but whose travel writing I find incisive and hilarious, suggests that a country can be identified as being third world by the quality of driving on its roads; Italy is not a third world country, he goes on to say, it’s just that nobody has bothered to inform its drivers yet. I’d not be able to make a judgment myself but Italian friends and associates have always found the notion a humorously acceptable one. I didn’t know what to expect driving in Spain but did harbour expectations. Brilliant, sensible, relaxed drivers though, all the way there and all the way back. Not like the airport car driver who returned me from Gatwick to Dorset at speeds consistently approaching 90mph, tail-gating other traffic, driving one handed, sometimes looking at his free hand to check his fingernails. I had no fingernails left to check by the end of that journey. The response to my complaint to the car company: you are entitled to ask your driver to slow down. While I’m busy digressing I’ll also make mention of passing by Gibraltar. An impressive sight. Looked very much to me like it’s in Spain though. Just saying :~)
Mad dogs and Englishmen. Not that I’m an Englishman nor of the canine persuasion. Vejer de la Frontera is an extraordinary place; tourist brochure idyll but a living, breathing, real town. On the surface it doesn’t appear much that way during the daytime as most of the locals rather sensibly stay out of the midday sun but even during that phase of the day the sounds of life emanate from the ends of alleyways and from windows on high as you walk around. If you’re mad enough to. During the middle of the day.
Each time I see this image I clearly hear the sound of a happy, babbling, burbling toddler and the encouragement of its grandmother…
If you ever catch me taking a photograph like this again, feel free to tie me to it and leave me there to learn my lesson…
Very modern graffiti I must say…
…Love the irony, intended or otherwise, in a town of white houses.
Apparently there’s a shop somewhere in the town that sells nothing but white paint, of one shade only…
Kids been throwing pumpkins on his roof again…
Rommalee & Dan put me up at the Hotel La Casa del Califa where much of the celebrations would take place on their wedding day. Described in their wedding invitation as a mishmash of eight separate buildings with seven entries on three different streets, 12 stairways, 51 doors, four courtyards and a cave, it really is an absolute delight of a maze of a building. Buildings. Fantastic service too. And the food. The food. On my first morning back in England I awoke from a dream about their breakfast.
Sleep eluded me for some time the night before the wedding. I was worried. I don’t worry before weddings. I was worried on this occasion however. How was I going to do justice to this place, this island in the sky. Landscape photography is not my forte. Neither is architectural photography. I’m a people person. I worried.
Then I told myself just do what you do, that’s what you were brought here for. And with that thought I slept soundly.
Contact Vejer de la Frontera Wedding Photographer Señor Phill : firstname.lastname@example.org : +44 (0)7870 696248