Wednesday, 25 March 2015

You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth

In honour of our impending wedding anniversary, I want to illustrate this blog today with images from my wedding to the Brashness and some poetry from our ceremony. All images are by Deb Amsler and Michaela Elphick of Bliss Photography unless otherwise credited. 
We bought our rings from Ireland off eBay. True (image by Anna)
Life is uncertain, eat dessert first. 
~ Ernestine Ulmer
Jen came all the way from California to join us (image by Anna)

So did Simon but hey, that was less unexpected lol (image by Anna)


March is a good month for me; it contains both our wedding anniversary and my birthday. What usually happens is the Brashness starts buying me gifts in January that are all labelled either birthday or anniversary presents, and I forget until the day before and make him a batch of ice cream. Funnily enough he's mostly happy with that arrangement.


We had cupcakes before it was fashionable

The Brashness and I met online, a long time ago and way before it was fashionable and people admitted to it. It was a clunky, awkward way to meet potential suitors, and I kissed a lot of frogs before I found my prince. Plenty of toads too. It wasn't all bad, in fact I enjoyed almost every minute of the discovery: I learnt a lot about the human condition and refined my ability to lie eloquently. 
Our 'first look'


A dog blessing

The rest, as they say, is history, and you know full well bloggers there's no history here unless it's got pixels.
I whinged about the price of these until I saw the
size of them on the day



My birthday and our anniversary are actually the same day; we got married on my 40th birthday. This was part good timing and part design; we wanted a small celebration without a lot of fuss. It started off intended to be a surprise wedding then we had to move the venue so the gig was up, as we chose to move it to my family home and in retrospect this was always going to be the perfect location. 


Jen supplied the handfasting cord which is incredibly intricate and includes
a locket and pieces of lapis lazuli woven into the cords

Some fussing then ensued, mainly about guest numbers. It was important to us to be married, for a whole bunch of reasons not the least of which was protecting each other legally through a contracted relationship. To have a wedding was less important, so we shared it with the bare essentials - 30 people, including us, mostly family and a handful of friends. We had a handfasting, and also met privately before the ceremony and walked in together.

Look! No cameras and phones!


We also chose to ask our guests to put their cameras away (before it was fashionable) to let the professionals do their work. This initially created an appreciable amount of consternation amongst our guests, but we stood firm, because we knew people would thank us later (and they did) for enabling them as a guest cohort to pay attention as one and engage with us as we made our vows. It was wonderful to look out and see faces, not the backs of phones or into a camera lens. This also let us totally control what photos ended up on the net; there were no Instagram filtered blurry shots of our wedding popping up before we made it back down the aisle, or tagged on other people's feeds. Hence quite a few of these images have never been seen outside our family/friends circle until now. This was the one big expense of our wedding, costing much more than everything else combined - the photographer. We asked her to name her price, and we paid it.


Overall it was a relaxed day with few surprises except an AWOL cake-topper and the fact that I actually fit into my dress on the day after starving myself for three months (middle-aged spread). 
Our mothers were our witnesses



All the guests

It was once said –
Love one another but let there be spaces in your togetherness,
and let there be winds of the heavens dance between you.
But make not a bond of love,
let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.



Give one another your bread but eat not from the same loaf,
Sing and dance together and be joyous but let each of you be alone.
Even as the strings of a lute are alone
though they quiver with the same music.



Give your hearts but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of life can contain your hearts,
And stand together yet not too near together,
for the pillars of the temple stand apart and
the oak and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadows.



Michaela and Deb and the compulsory selfie

So thank you Danny for six inspiring years of marriage and the multi-faceted journey that life continues to lead us on. You'll find me waiting for my three kisses: one to make up for the years before we met, one for today, and one for our tomorrows still to come. 

Monday, 16 March 2015

Thanks For The Memories

Well bloggers here we are again, and as I was looking for a lazy blog entry this week I decided to go through some of my favourite weddings and pick out my favourite images. This turned out to be a journey of a different kind to what I was expecting. The images I found myself returning to were not the best, the most arty, or the most saleable. Sometimes they didn't feature the couple or even people at all; sometimes they had me in them, and some of them made me cry. They were the most memorable, the shots that brought the day back. They were the shots that brought specific moments to mind; a reminder of something I was doing, someone I was shooting with or something particularly noteworthy that happened. I imagine that is how it goes for my couples too. Their most cherished and revisited images might not be the ones they have on their wall or in their album but the ones that trigger the strongest memories of the day.

Here's a sample of the most memorable of images from some of my favourite weddings, along with the story. Because as we already know, without the story, it's just another photo. Put a few words behind a picture, and it becomes history.

This was taken during the couple's reception in an art gallery but the amazing artwork behind them is actually a window. I remember seeing this sunset and knowing that my couple was settled and there was no way I would be getting them outside again for any more photos. So I quickly set this shot up and got two frames shot away, with no-one any the wiser to what I was doing until they saw the photos. This went on to become one of my iconic portfolio images. As an interesting aside this bride was taught at school by my mother and the wedding took place in the Catholic Church I attended for school masses once a week (bleh).
Margo and Ben at Murwillumbah Art Gallery
This photo was taken by the Brashness at Margo and Ben's wedding just before we got in the lift to go up to their reception. The Brashness and I had been only been dating a few months and at the time I felt like I was taking a risk letting him come out with me on the job, but as it turned out he made a fine assistant. I think this is my favourite photo of myself working.

Oh the joys of digital! One of these joys is showing your clients an image now and then as you shoot. It's exciting to see that some strange or peculiar thing your photographer has made you do actually looks pretty damn fine. This bride and groom trusted me completely and it paid off for them with a fantastic set of photos.
Angel and Simon, Robina Woods Gold Course
At the same wedding I was watching the interactions closely between the various players and was able to catch this image of the bride and her mum embracing on the dance floor. They created a moment of absolute solitude for themselves amongst the noise and hustle that was around them, and I was privileged to capture this visual expression of what I knew to be a very close relationship.

Yes these next two images were taken at a wedding. I was shooting on Fraser Island and stayed at Kingfisher Bay Resort on the western side of the island for two nights. The opportunity to shoot a vast amount of stock and scenic images every chance I could get was not wasted. The first shot was taken the morning after the wedding and reminded me of the rock pools and soldier crabs ever-present on the beach of my home town.

This shot was taken at a perfect moment on the slightly grey morning of the wedding. I think I came home with more than twice as much stock as actual shots from the wedding.

I've been lucky as you know to have travelled often to the USA, and I've even had the privilege of shooting a wedding there and learning first hand some of the finer differences between our two cultures as a result. I shot this wedding with my brother at the ZLAC Rowing Club in San Diego, an unforgettable experience.
Here I am with Simon at Mary and Steve's wedding. Mary is a long
time friend of my brother's and they both remain our good friends.
The next two images are from the wedding of the lovely Kate and Grant. Kate was a local girl, another former student of my mum, and the ceremony here is in the same Catholic Church in Murwillumbah that Margo and Ben married in. I've done a LOT of weddings in this church, most of them referrals from Kate's mum. I love this first shot as Kate catches the eye of her dad coming back down the aisle. Kate and Grant are now based in England and I've had the joy of having her on my Facebook and seeing her life evolve, including the addition of two delightful children.

This photo reminds me of the time Simon came home for a year and how much fun we had - he shot quite a few weddings with me during that year including Kate and Grant's wedding above; this was taken at their reception. This wedding was especially memorable because when we arrived at the church I realised I'd left my best lens at the bride's house so I had to send Simon back for it to break in and get it err hope the limo hadn't left for the church yet.

I flew to Cairns in July of 2011 to shoot the elopement of Cath and Doug. Sweet, that's winter in Australia right? Right.... somebody tell Cairns that. It's a hot place, even in July it was 100 percent humidity and about 35 degrees Celcius (100F). After I arrived I started to feel odd and by the next morning, the morning of the wedding, I thought I might die. I think I had the flu; the proper flu, with the sweating and aches and shaking. This photo reminds me of standing on the balcony of the bride's hotel room looking out over Cairns Esplanade wondering if I would survive the day or if I should ring someone I knew there to come take over for me so I could go to hospital. As it turns out I soldiered on, and it was a lovely day all round. When I got back home I went to bed and didn't get up for ten days.

This is Cath and Doug of the Cairns elopement, interesting and educated people who have contributed a lot to my life and stayed friends since their wedding. Cath has one of the most interesting Facebook feeds of anyone I know. In an aside they were married by a former bride of mine Pamela, Cath's close friend, who became a celebrant. Pamela's husband and I were witnesses. This photo reminds me of the oppressive and inescapable heat and also reminds me that a wedding need not be a big fluffy affair - all it takes is love, a couple of signatures and a rockin' pair of shoes.

I've always loved this image because it sums up a wedding day in so many ways. The bride's home or wherever she prepares is always a buzz of activity with so many things happening at once. I often find the father of the bride bemused by the whole thing and doing his best to stay out of the way. This image actually reminds me of the bride's nanna which is why I included it, even though nanna is not visible here she was big and bold during preparations. She was such a character, and had a very special relationship with the bride. When her nanna passed away I was privileged to be asked to provide a photo for her funeral by this bride. For all these reasons this image is a favourite.

This was taken at my mum's wedding to Stan, and is an immediate reminder that sometimes joy can come out of sorrow. For of course, both mum and Stan lost their lifelong partners before they fell in love with each other. These two perfect yellow roses bloomed together on the morning of the wedding, and we took it as a sign that Dad and Beverley approved of the match.

This photo reminds me of my more adventurous self. I had just started shooting digital at this wedding and was still feeling my way, unsure of what I might get, so was especially pleased to get this shot. I had taken the money shot already with my film camera, way up high on the balcony of the resort on Fraser Island looking over the wedding reception, and was just experimenting with my digital camera and got this shot. This is the one I ended up using in the couple's album. Also a memorable photo because this couple will shortly celebrate their tenth anniversary, and I really cannot believe it's been ten years already.

Taken at the above wedding, this series of images takes me straight back to that beach when I had a moment of having no clue what the hell I was going to do with these people to get some remotely interesting photos. Total blank of ideas, so hey guys just run up and down for a bit until I remember what on earth I'm doing. It usually only takes a minute or two to regain some creative energy and having some thoughts written down is always a bonus, but only if you can find the note in your camera bag. Of course the series turned out to be one of my favourites and made it to the album also.

Unfortunately this photo reminds me of this day for all the wrong reasons. Moments after I shot this my big tripod took a tumble with my best and most expensive almost brand new radio-controlled flash attached to the top. The tripod survived and so did the flash unbelievably, except for the footings which broke off causing some interesting posturing for the rest of the day as I attempted off-camera flash maneuvres without an assistant. One of those times you say 'no it's fine, all fine' but inside you're saying 'yep there goes nine hundred bucks'.

This photo has become one of my iconic shots and also released as a limited edition print, but was actually taken at a wedding. The couple were having a receiving line, unfortunately facing away from the river view, so in between aunts and uncles I turned and spent a few moments shooting Mt. Warning and the jaw-dropping sunset. Shot in Murwillumbah on the banks of the Tweed River. Why yes, the bride was another of my mother's ex-students!

Also taken in Murwillumbah, this is another couple who married at my imposing Catholic Church in the main street (and wait for it... more ex-students...). Trouble was it rained without ceasing all day in a monsoonal onslaught more worthy of Cairns than a country town tucked deep in the crater of an extinct volcano. We did the family formals in the foyer of the church, and as there was no Plan B for rain I had to pull something out of my astute imagination for the creative work before the reception. Lucky for me the couple had hired a wicked-looking car, so we parked it in (yes) the underground carpark of the school next door and did a fashion-style shoot in and around it. A great example of being able to think on your feet under pressure.

This photo reminds me of Australian summer and the intense, stifling heat of the lunchtime hours in January. I remember running across the sand and hopping from foot to foot because it was so hot! I also recall the technical challenges of the day and the planning that went into what looks like a simple snap because of the intensity of the sun coming from almost directly overhead. A lot of thought went into posing this couple to avoid harsh shadows on their faces while picking up reflection from the sand, and exposing to avoid blowing out the background but also not plunging my subjects back into shadow. Would you believe me if I told you this couple were teacher colleagues of my mother?

A simply perfect autumn evening in Australia; this photo makes me think of the moon and balloons... taken at a dear friend's post-wedding celebration it instantly brings a smile to my face and the rush of good memories, not only of the night but of my friend. Taken at Currumbin Surf Club in April of 2012.

You've seen the moon at this wedding before, but the following image is my favourite from the wedding. We have it in a frame at home because it is the perfect shot of our dear friends on what turned out to be a perfect evening for photography. I remember my surprise at seeing this couple turn up with that amazing bunch of balloons and almost wetting my pants with glee. I bundled them both straight down to the beach because I knew I had about ten minutes of usable light left to shoot. The balloons were intended to be table decorations and my friends had no idea they were going to end up as photo props. When I shoot for people I know, I always hope the images turn out to be extra breathtaking, but this set exceeded even my expectations. And yes, this groom not only was taught by my mother but then got a double degree in Creative Industries and Education and came back to school to teach alongside her.

When I look at this photo I can actually hear the laughter of this pair as we joked our way around their wedding photo shoot. It was all about fun, and a little bit different as it was an elopement. The rest is history, and you can read about it on the blog here. Another reason I love this image is that I know it is also one of my couple's favourites, or I should say my friends, as these guys went on to become.

Then there are the photos we treasure not because they bring us joy but because they break our hearts, and they remind us of the most important reason for photos of all - family. The next three images were taken at my cousin's wedding in February 2014, the first pair during her father's speech, the father of the bride. At this exact moment he was thanking my mother Diana for making it to the wedding, and acknowledging by doing so what we all knew, that this would be the last family celebration she would attend. You can read the story of the day here.

And this image is the last photo of all of us as a family, taken during the reception at my cousin's wedding. Mum died eight short weeks later. My cousin and her new husband's first child was born in December in a bittersweet time for all of us, still mourning my mum but overjoyed at having another family member. A beautiful girl, perfect in every way, she was given the middle name Diana.