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Monday, April 19, 2010

Ebony and Ryan's beautiful day

If my memory serves me correctly, I first met John 14 years ago. It was my sister, Natasha's wedding day, 1996. I had written a song for her that I wanted to perform with the band at her wedding. Not having had the chance to meet with the band beforehand, I handed them the charts and without a single rehearsal, they played it perfectly. You can't imagine how grateful I was. But wait! There's more! After that, they asked me to come and sing with them at other weddings and gigs and I was very happy to. Give me a microphone? Somebody stop me! In the fourteen years that have passed since we have all become such good friends and I love getting together with these guys, whether it be for a gig, a jam or just a few drinks and some pasta on the odd Friday night. But this past weekend allowed me an opportunity to do something for one of them for a change.
On Saturday, my very good friend, John (our brilliant bass player) was compelled to hand his beautiful daughter into the care of fine young man - Ryan Abrahams. Ryan and Ebony are deeply in love with each other and their friendship is an enviable one. But as happy as they were to marry,  I know from the moments I spent with John on Saturday and the coffee I shared with him Sunday morning that this was not an easy thing for him. He and his daughter share a special bond. That is self evident when you see them together. But it was also evident from the few tears I saw well in his eyes during the course of the day. There is the ambivalence of the loss of the special and unique companionship of a daughter along with the knowing that she will be loved and well cared for by a fine young man who has also woven his way into the family's heart. 
I have known Ebony since she was a small girl and ss deeply fond as I am of her, I have to be honest and say that my motives for creating the best wedding photographs I could were more about my good friend John. As I have often said - and will say again many times yet - it is an honour always to be asked to capture a wedding. But this one was different. I wanted to do it for him. While I endeavour always to be at my best, I wanted so much to produce some wonderful images of the beautiful Ebony and her husband so that I could honour my long time friendship with her father. Naturally, your heart is always with the couple and you want to do your best for them on their 'day of days', but I have to admit, upon personal examination, that my motives had that added dimension.
The day itself was wonderful. The weather was perfect and the light for our late afternoon formals was simply beautiful. Being a lover of rim lighting, it was not hard to 'find the light and put 'em in it...a phrase with which my process has become synonymous. Ebony and Ryan were so easy to photograph and so cooperative with regard to each image. As the sun sinks toward the horizon in a Melbourne April, you have a relatively small window to work with when its golden glow warms the landscape. But they worked with us, and were very keen to co-produce some beautiful and romantic images for themeselves.
Our shoot was at the Panton Hill Winery where textures and architecture combine with the vineyard surroundings to produce opportunities for photographers that make life so easy. However, there was a moment there when a patch of light so beautifully lit a small portion of the forest to the right of the property that it wouldn't have mattered where we were as long as the light was there. Oh...and indeed it was.
It is here that photographers, I believe, sort the men from the boys. Successful wedding photography is rarely about the location. After all, most weddings begin in an average home where the bride readies herself for her groom. While this was not the case on Saturday, I have many times found myself in an average suburban home with a bride, bridesmaids and a short period of time. Here is where you need to understand what is required and maximise your opportunities. Often, the location chosen for formals is not the best either. But grant the experienced and creative photographer a shaft of light anywhere and there is an instant opportunity for a dynamic image.
The sun having set, we ventured into the winery buildings where I could not help but pose Ebony under the lights that fell upon the almost medieval style furniture. She has such a beautiful and innocent face that placing it under the fall of an overhead light was an automatic process for me. She is so lovely that the light becomes her servant, as it is mine. For me, finding the light and posing the couple with it as the absolute priority is a 'first instinct' process. It never fails to produce an image that pleases me. Never. It is something I can't help but emphasize at all my workshops. With some indoor images under our belts, it was time to head for the reception.
And there I was...seated with the band. Of course! And don't I love it! After all, my work wasn't finished. There was music to provide for the reception, and I was in the band. I love plugging in the guitar, stepping up the mike and letting loose wherever and whenever I can. Natasha Humble, who had been specially invited by John to be my able and creative assistant for the day was also invited to sing. He's a clever lad that John...getting twice the value for his dollar! The reception was an evening mixed with wonderful laughter, a few tears and a whole lot of fun. And...I have to admit, my voice had held up well and I was able to reach the soft notes for "Have I Told You Lately" and the power notes in "Easy" - a song I insist on doing with the band. Its my anthem, after all.

"Just gotta be me..."
However, I wasn't that Easy on Sunday morning - like the song says. I crashed at John's place after the band had gathered there post-reception for a few drinks and bit of a giggle. Actually, it was a lot of giggles,  a couple of 12-year old Scotches, a Bailey's, a shot of something the name of which I can't remember and a glass of water. John also fired up the spa but well, we were all just a little too tired. In the end, I think I got about three hours sleep. Oh well, that's not too bad. Its a good thing I am still young, right?
John, thank you for allowing me the honour to capture your beautiful girl in her innocent beauty. Thank you for a memorable day and for your friendship, always. 

3 comments:

Johno said...

Emotion to me plays a huge part of why we take photographs, be that of places or people. Weddings in particular are an emotion filled day and to capture the essence of that in photographs is what it's all about.

Add to that mix a connection that pre-existed before the big day and while you might feel more "pressure" you just "know" that these shots are just going to be perfect.

I know some people prefer to be detached when shooting weddings, I don't (or I should say, I allow myself to make it personal) it gives me a better insight into what is going all around me.

I can see, by your words and images, what it meant to you, a top job done.

Robinson's said...

these photos are absolutely stunning shelton, and what you've written is beautiful too.
It was a lovely day, and these photos reflect it perfectly. well done. :)

mirka psak said...

wonderful work! as always!

The Life, Times and Images of photographer, Shelton Muller

Images on this blog are copyright Shelton Muller