Wednesday, 16 July 2014

When You Wish Upon A Star

All you need for a wedding in Australia is 30 days notice, a couple, two witnesses and a celebrant. And, of course, a kickass photographer.

When I first went out seriously as a photographer I was living in the beautiful Gold Coast Hinterland district of Tamborine Mountain. My best friend had moved from Cairns to the Mountain with her family a few years prior. I finished my degree in 2004 and decided to sell my house in Brisbane, and it seemed like an obvious choice to be close to my friend and also closer to my parents in northern NSW. So I moved to the Mountain and over the course of a few years my friend and I both moved around but stayed on the Mountain and never lived more than a few minutes drive from each other. Life was good.
The view from Main Western Road Mount Tamborine
In early 2007 I moved to a quaint little cottage literally stuck in the middle of a patch of rainforest. It was just perfect, if you don't count the dinner-plate sized spiders, dead kookaburras in the water tank and having to run a dehumidifier 24 hours a day to combat the mould. The property itself was so picturesque and so private I would take my Tamborine wedding couples home and do some of their photos in my backyard. 
Darren and Justine 15th July 2007 at my home
Not far into my stay in the cottage I got an email from a prospective bride who had fallen in love with my work. She was living in Western Australia with her fiancé and they were planning to elope to the Gold Coast in July. Through our email exchanges this bride sounded like such an interesting person I immediately wanted to shoot this wedding; the reasons she gave for wanting me as her photographer went beyond the superficial. Sometimes I feel an instant connection to a client or couple simply from an email exchange or phone call, and my instincts are usually good. I was dismayed to read further in the email and discover that I was booked on their date, and in fact on both days that weekend for events. Sadly I messaged her back with the bad news.

To my surprise the bride emailed back and changed her date to the next day I was available. This has happened to me a few times in my career, and when it does you know the couple is hard-core about making photography a priority so I booked them in and looked forward to meeting them on their wedding day. It would be a blind date of sorts.

I've often had people say to me that shooting an elopement is easy, because it's not a 'real wedding'. I can tell you for free that when two people stand up together and declare their love for each other before their own personal god, a celebrant and witnesses it's a real wedding. I don't care if you have six or seven meringued-out bridesmaids and hundreds of witnesses or if you're alone on the beach in the middle of nowhere and I'm one of your only two witnesses; it's the same level of serious and the same legal commitment. At my W.A. couple's wedding I would certainly be one of only two witnesses, the other being the husband of the celebrant.

So the wedding day came along and I met Pamela and Stuart in their hotel room in the resort. It was love at first sight and they were exactly as I had imagined. We hit it off well and the wedding was wonderful. We drank Moet during the signing and shot many creative and fun photos after the ceremony.



After an hour or so of photos we went inside and I was preparing to finish up when I spotted a fantastic wall. I love finding a well-lit plain coloured wall during a wedding because it is a blank canvas for a photographer to pull out the personality of their couple without any accessories or pretty backgrounds to be a distraction or prop up an otherwise boring photo. So I posed my couple up against the wall and shot this one perfect moment for them to round out what had been a perfect day.

In a postscript to this story, when my lovebirds came to view their photos 24 hours later at my Mouldy Villa perched up on Tamborine Mountain, not only did they love their photos but they fell in love with the Mountain, and left for home dreaming of ways they could get back. We kept in touch and in 2011 they packed up their life in Perth and moved to Tamborine Mountain for their own piece of paradise. We are lucky to be able to now call them our good friends. 

By the way Pamela and Stuart, Happy Anniversary. It seems that when you wish upon a star, your dreams really do come true.


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