Nov 14, 2013

Wedding, 2 November 2013


Mr and Mrs Beer

 I woke up Sunday morning, 3 November, 2013. It felt like the mighty Thor had somehow gotten trapped inside my head and he wasn’t very happy to be there. I looked around… everything seemed in order. Through Thor wielding his hammer about inside my head, I remember the most amazing evening the night before. I survived a day at work, had the phone-calls of thanks early that morning too. The hangover… was definitely worth it in ways I cannot express. 
Well, the wedding was a huge success in the end… but what a story I have to tell…
So let me start off by saying what I don’t like about shooting weddings.
 You can plan and prep as much as you want… it probably isn’t always going to go accordingly.
 Booze flows way too much toward the end.
 Because the booze has taken over, the rest is a mess. The bride and groom start to rush things that they planned so meticulously beforehand and the photographer must roll with it.
Let’s say, the cake cutting for example, no longer as arranged. It all gets messy from there onwards. The downward spiral accelerates into a series of “I don’t knows” and “yeah, later” and before you know it… you end up trying to sort of follow the flow… oh crap! You can try to keep things in perspective, but, it all fails repeatedly. All you can do is hope to get something the bride and groom will appreciate. That is basically after the major formalities have been dealt with, like the preparations, ceremony and the main photo shoot, as the speeches take place and the drinking begins, things change… a little.

As the night draws on, things become a little blurry.

Now, let me tell you what I do like about weddings…
The way the energy levels continue to wind up as time draws nearer to the ceremony. The rush of excitement as all the final pieces fit together. The nerves of the groom, because he can’t stand still. The hum of all the guests, as they settle into their seats. The groom and his best men, lined up in front.
The nervous groom and his best men.
 As a photographer, you notice the smaller things though… the sweaty palms, the feet that can’t stay still and even the anticipation from the guests… which continues to grow. The change in music right down to the change of chatter… to soft whispers.
The flower girls and boys make their way down the aisle, followed by the bride’s maids. The whispers of “awww” for the kids and “oh wow, look how beautiful” for the bride’s maids fade out as they all take their seat, or places in front. Almost complete silence now fills the air. It’s almost so quiet that you could probably hear the groom’s heart racing… if you stood close enough.
 Last change in the music… the bride is on her way down the aisle. You can actually see the groom’s heart beating, more and more, through the mixture of excitement and nerves that are quite vividly drawn all over his face. She looks amazing.
The beautiful bride on her way down the aisle.
The veil gets lifted and the bride has the same look on her face. The nervous excitement glowing, radiating out through her eyes and smile. This really is a beautiful time for all who are present.


 The ceremony begins. I have been on the go for a while already. Lugging camera bag and gear from point to point to try get that one shot. Actually, many of those shots. But, to get myself into that position where I can capture every possible moment takes quite a bit of work, I realise I am quite unfit for this sort of shooting. The rings, the first married kiss, everything. Then, the running, back into position behind the ceremony to capture the return down the aisle of the now Mr and Mrs now as one, united in matrimony. The final walk through between the guests as bubbles and confetti fill the air. They are now married!! The celebrations can begin! Well, for the guests anyway.

For the newly-weds, brides maids, best men and the kids that led the ceremony, it’s still a while before they can celebrate. It’s now quiet time with me!
We were at Thandanani Wedding Venue and it was time for the formal shoot. Now the pressure really gets turned on for me. We all climb into or onto a beautifully unrestored, rusty old Land Rover and go for a drive out into the bush behind the venue. Where are we going? None of us actually know… we eventually arrived at our destination… a short, slow drive away, in the bush.
  Okay, at this point, I have a confession to make. Most times, the wedding photographer has had the opportunity to survey the area beforehand… making notes, planning the shoot. Not me, timing from both sides did not allow it this time. So, I was in a spot, a bit of a bind. I had to shoot without any prior planning. There I was spinning around, seeing what was available to me, how I could work with the hard light and environment. “Okay, just go with” it is what I told myself. We were out in this lush, green bush, blue skies filled the air with hints of cloud here and there. I’d hoped for more as the weather reports had forecasted. I have to make use of the area, without making my uh, ‘subjects’ uncomfortable. There was also that fear of snakes (and I mean Cape Cobras) that made the whole party nervous. So, some ideas were not done, for safety’s sake. We got done in a pretty short time… I could only hope it was a success. Time for the slow drive back. That old, rust Landy could not exactly drive fast… not on the semi-road we were on. The return was welcomed by all… a cold beer would really have gone down well right now…
Oh yes, final shoot with the couple and of course, the new in-laws… then also with the Hummer they’d rented. It was decided the trip to the beach would have taken up too much time… another plan had to be made… more success there!! I think… thought.
As this ceremony of photos draw to an end, I can almost taste the ice cold beer… time for a breather and a cold one. I shot the tables of people, while my beer stood to the side and warmed a little. It’s time, time for the bride and groom to make their entrance. I have to be quick, space is also limited. Gaah! Flash fails me!! I manage to get one… but it’s not worth mentioning.  The celebrations continue, my camera continues… after replacing the batteries of the flash to respond faster. Now it’s speeches, first dance, bouquet tossing and the garter thingy…
In between all these uh, ‘rituals’, I continue to drift around, watching, looking for that moment to snap another memorable piece… that extra moment. That one last photo, that will seal the celebrations for the couple. It’s now dark, I’ve been at this now since 2pm and I glance at the time… it now 10pm. I switched to art-mode… did a few slower exposures… to well, kind of express the blur that has become the after party. The parts, some would really remember.
From around that time, my camera and I were feeling the tiredness. There were a few guests also buying me drinks… so party on! I eventually snuck out around midnight… had work in the morning.
To my friends Jaco and Tara, it was an honour and a pleasure to have been there. As your photographer, as your friend.  Thank you.
The biltong buckets, for the men who attended.
The setup for the outdoor wedding.
The whole crowd on top the old Land Rover... Happy times.
Having fun, celebrating!
Speeches and toasts were plenty.


  1. Collin Scott. This is amazing. Thank you for capturing these very special moments. Memories from that day will never be forgotten. Outstanding photography. Thank you. Cal, Maid of Honour

  2. Thank you Cal, Maid of Honour. :)
    Was a pleasure and indeed, a day that will never be forgotten.