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.
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.
"Just gotta be me..."