It is frequently at the edge of things that we learn most about the middle:
ice and steam can reveal more about the nature of water than water alone ever could.
In the Blink of an Eye
A Perspective on Film Editing
It’s interesting to me to come across, one by one, the range of images that arose seemingly of their own volition from this exercise; an exercise in selecting one image from every wedding that I have photographed, applying criteria that I imagine would not be applied were I piecing together a portfolio for conscious marketing purposes (though who knows?) I hope that it’s interesting to you, too. It’s certainly revealing to me a great deal about how I think with regards to my work, often-times without consciously realising such thought processes were going on at the time of taking the photographs.
I tend to think of my work in terms of sequences of images, the story of a day, acts and scenes and what in filmic terms would be described as shots, composed of individual but almost identical framed stills. In that sense alone I find it intriguing to reduce my attention solely to individual images but that, on another equally important level, is what I am making. If I stepped back and asked myself, what still images would I choose to represent a wedding day or perhaps more so, what images should I choose, might I select those images in a different manner? What types of image would you assume best represented the notion and the feel of a wedding day? Myself, I’d imagine a suit, a tie, a dress, the dress; an exchange of rings, looks of excited nervousness, smiles, dressed-up people mingling and interacting and reaching out to each other; flowers and food and flowing drink and conversation; speeches, laughter, tears and applause; dancing into the night. And I do, indeed, photograph all of these things.
I also though have an intuitive inclination to home in on the bits in between, or those things at the edge of the more central things. For the purposes of this exercise, I’d equally find myself as much selecting things from the edge as I would those things at the centre. I write this during the first quarter of 2013. I’m looking at an image, a photograph I took during the last quarter of 2011. A year and a half later it brings an entire wedding day flooding back to me and a great deal of information from a scene that whilst it formed an important part of that day, was unseen by most that attended.
The scene might, from surface appearance, seem as though it could be from any other day. But it wasn’t.
Jake & Conall married at Camden Town Hall in London and celebrated at St. John Bar & Restaurant in Smithfield. The food was extraordinarily good. I was seated as a guest for the wedding meal. Conall’s sister served me from a communal sharing platter. Things like that, you never forget. I couldn’t claim that such warmth and inclusion made me work all the harder to produce the best possible results; I can’t help but work as hard as I possibly can, to achieve the best possible results, by default. I can say it made a mark on me though. Jake & Conall were great to work for. This is something I can say time after time, because I’m lucky enough to experience that reality. They stripped the concept of a wedding day totally down to the ground and re-built it, from scratch, with just the components that would serve them and their guests best. Quality of experience through reduction and distillation.
My clients (and their friends, their families, those that know them most deeply of all) will always, it is my hope, see aspects great and small of their true selves in the images that I make. It’s not for me to posit some kind of deconstruction of personality on my own behalf. I do though like to think that Jake & Conall would see themselves in the image I’ve selected here, and not just the fact of their surface selves. As they await the arrival of a small group of friends, prior to the ceremony, Jake is in the kitchen, slicing up a loaf of bread bought that morning from what he described as the communist supermarket just down the street (a cooperative largely staffed by locals, doing what cooperatives very much do best) whilst Conall busies himself with tidying up the living room. You might say that the coincidence of their postures is just that, coincidence, and I wouldn’t disabuse you of that interpretation but I like the possible metaphor in their mirroring of each other. And maybe it is more than coincidence. It resonates with me how Jake is seemingly still and Conall is energetically moving about and whilst that in itself might suggest something of the yin and the yang in their relationship, it also provokes in me a strong notion of internal duality as Jake was certainly not a person to stand still, especially on the dance-floor, and I have some equally evocative images of Conall pausing for deep thought on a number of occasions throughout the day.
It’s a day that comes flooding back to the surface of my memory in looking at just a single image. I imagine the effect to be greater still when my clients get to look back on the entire body of wedding day images that I deliver to them.
This image was taken from my One from every wedding I have photographed collection, a review of sorts of my first four years as a wedding photographer, an exercise involving the selection of a single image from each wedding and weaving these together in the form of the narrative flow of one day. The selection criteria for the individual images did not necessarily factor in an image being a personal favourite or one that I necessarily felt was a best representation of my strongest work, but sought to highlight an image that might represent more nuanced aspects of my practice.