Confessions Of A Wedding Photographer (part 1)
Perhaps the title should read “…Ex-Wedding Photographer”. I’ve removed myself from every wedding photographer listing that I can remember I am listed on and have not booked any weddings at all this year. I won’t rule out ever shooting weddings again, but for the moment I’m more than happy to take a sabbatical from what has become an increasingly thankless area of photography.
In this, the first part of this series, I’m going to tell you a few tales from over 25 years of photographing weddings – some from first hand experience, some – let’s say – “passed on”.
The Drunken Vicar: From conversations with other photographers, the phenomenon of the inebriated cleric is much more common than one might expect. When working for an un-nameable wedding studio in Shropshire in the 1990’s, I found myself regularly bumping into (almost literally) one particular un-nameable vicar who seemed to have more than a casual fondness for the communion plonk. As most vicars do, he tended to stick to exactly the same sermon for every wedding, but even this proved something of a challenge. In his defence, it can’t have been easy to remember a couple’s names when they look so much like every other couple who’ve stood in front of you that week/year.
The Bride’s Mother: Back when we used to use something called film (ask your dad), and didn’t have Photoshop (Really! No Photoshop! Can you imagine?) we relied rather heavily on “filters” – grotty bits of semi-opaque plastic that we fitted in front of our lenses (I know! Hilarious!). One popular filter range were “soft focus” filters, a bit like the diffusion effect on Photoshop, except far more primitive. Wedding photographers employed these pretty liberally, especially when trying to “improve” dodgy complexions or even dodgier backgrounds (perhaps by using the “soft focus with clear centre” option). I remember walking into the studio one day to overhear my boss engaged in a heated discussion with a bride’s mom, who was attempting to claim a discount because some of the photos were “out of focus”. “Soft focus!” said my boss. “Out of focus!” shouted bride’s mom…
Another bride’s mother pressed a piece of paper into my hand as I was about to leave, which I was disappointed to find wasn’t a £20 note, but her other, unmarried, daughter’s phone number.
Potty-mouthed Vicar: I confess I’ve only encountered one such vicar, but he warrants a whole section of his own. The first time I met him I had arrived at the church early because I’d never shot there before, and found him standing on the church steps chatting to a couple of his flock. I introduced myself and asked, as I usually did, if there was anywhere he didn’t want me to shoot from etc. He looked me in the eye and said, “Go where you like. But if you get in my way, I’ll b*****k you and f*** you off out”. Interestingly, his two parishioners didn’t bat an eye.
I once saw this same vicar stop a hymn after a single verse because the families weren’t singing heartily enough, saying “Look, if you’re not going to bother, forget it”.
And finally, “The Robin Hood Story“: Now this may well be a kind of photographic urban myth as I’ve heard it from two different sources, but it made me laugh and so I’m going to pass it on…
A young couple go to see the vicar and ask if it’s okay to have some secular music during their wedding. The vicar, eager to please, happily agrees. The couple ask if it would be okay to have that hit song from the Robin Hood film (meaning the Bryan Adams song, “Everything I do”) played as she walks down the aisle. The vicar looks surprised but nods and they all leave happy. The big day arrives and the bride begins her walk down the aisle. As planned, the music starts up – “Robin Hood, Robin Hood, riding through the glen…”
Well, it made me chuckle.