Part One: Going back to the basics – Why I chose to shoot an iPhone-only Wedding
(*Disclaimer – This blog post is actually two combined into one. So it’s going to be long. But there’s a reason behind it. If you choose to go all the way until the end, it will be well worth it.)
As a wedding photographer, I often get asked this one common question: “Kenny, do you ever get tired of shooting weddings?” My immediate response to that is “NO WAY!” It is a legitimate question to ask as an observer to someone like me, who has been fortunate to photograph about 200 weddings in the six years I have been in this business. But I want to share with you that every wedding is different. For a wedding to take place, many different elements need to come together harmoniously: people, culture, story, location, time, size, theme, purpose, style, etc. A good illustration is like looking at fingerprints. From just quickly glancing at them, they may all look the same. But when you have the time to observe them carefully, you’ll notice not one of them is ever alike. And I LOVE every single one of them because they give me the opportunity to capture the essence of what weddings are all about. As a photographer, the excitement is renewed with each wedding I photograph because it challenges me to tell a story and find details & moments that my couples will cherish for the rest of their lives.
Part of the reason why I decided to take on the project of capturing a wedding with only my iPhone last week was because it allowed me to strip away all the elements as a wedding photographer. Things such as: Latest technology & gear which forced a theory in my head that every single image has to be absolutely perfect and technically sound. Or a “business-only” mentality clouding my vision to see my clients only as a means to make a living for myself instead of two beautiful souls committing together to love each other for the rest of their lives. While all these elements are essential and necessary to run a successful wedding photography business, sometimes we need to pull back and retune our thoughts to remind us of what is most important. Shooting an iPhone wedding allowed me to do just that. Take a look at this image I captured with the iPhone at my friend Kenny Nakai’s wedding (not last week’s wedding but the first wedding of this year which I stood as one of the groomsmen):
What is the first impression that comes to your mind when you look at this image? For me, it was a nice moment of genuine love and happiness shared between a bride and groom who just finished their ceremony. It was a moment many people probably did not notice. I doubt even the subjects knew that this moment was being captured. Joe Buissink a highly sought after celebrity photographer whom I respect and can call as a friend said it best:
If you are looking at the image above and the first thought that comes to your mind is full of skepticism (bad exposure, poor lighting, too much grain, ‘why shoot with iPhone!?!’ mentality), then perhaps you might want to ask yourself if you have deviated from the passion for this craft. While there were many other reasons I photographed a wedding last week using just my iPhone, one main reason was because doing so brought me back to the basics – the heart of it all which made me fall in love with this profession in the first place six years ago. The timing was perfect for me because I have a busy wedding season ahead this year and I needed the reminder (shooting 25 weddings – going to places like Bermuda, Mexico, England, New York, California, Houston, Chicago and traveling to France & Italy). It restored in me the joy of photography and going back to the basics was what led me to this discovery.
Part Two: When Alex met Thalita – A New York City wedding
This wedding I am about to share with you is a special one because everything I talked about as a photographer above is exactly what my clients did as bride and groom. Meet Alex and Thalita. He’s a successful opthamologist (aka eye surgeon – I had no idea what that meant when I first heard it) in New York and she’s a highly sought after international fashion model. I do not want to toot their horns, but while they certainly had the means to have a big extravagant wedding, they also chose to go back to the basics and have a very small intimate wedding to commit their love to each other. So on a beautiful Wednesday afternoon in New York City, the five of us (bride, groom, best man, maid of honor and myself) took a quick trip to the City Hall where they had a short but beautiful ceremony followed by a photo shoot around the city where I had the freedom to exercise my creativity with them. When the night rolled around, they invited their closest family members & friends and had an intimate dinner together celebrating their wedding.
I LOVED this idea. Just to be clear, I am not saying that having a big extravagant wedding is not a good idea. As I mentioned before, every wedding is different and beautiful in their own way. The main thing is to decide, as a couple, how you want to celebrate it. Big or small, extravagant or not, the most important thing is that you celebrate your love in a way that is special to you. I loved their wedding because it reinforced what I was trying to share above. It is about going back to the basics to remind you what is important. So thank you Alex and Thalita for the reminder. You guys are beautiful people inside and out and your wedding was truly an unforgettable one filled with stories which I am sure we’ll talk about for a long time. Thank you for the privilege of allowing me to capture your wedding and to now call you friends.
Here are some images from their wedding day. In case you were wondering, no I did not use my iPhone for this wedding. I did keep this shoot very simple though. Just my one body (Mark 1DIV) and two lenses (16-35mm f2.8 & 70-200mm f2.8). I felt like it was an appropriate thing to do for this occasion.
By the way, I am having a PhotoVenture Tour to Italy this Fall from November 6-12, 2012. If you have never been to Italy, you owe it to yourself to go. This trip will help you get back to the basics and fall in love with photography all over again. While many workshops out there will teach you “how” to become a photographer, this “unworkshop” will teach you to discover yourself by asking “why” and before you know it, you’ll be transformed into one. Interested? Visit the website and contact me for more information.