YOU ARE ALL A DESTINATION
Ok so I have a feeling this is going to be a pretty long post so pre warning to those who cannot or will not read. Skip this essay & go straight to the images. I am going to be honest with you. That first photo in the set almost made me well up when I got home & saw it for the first time on screen. Not because of the emotion, the fact it's in France or even the incredible venue. But that image right there is one very few that has shuck me to my very core, slapped me around my face & said. "Ryan you are doing something rightl"
Now what do I mean by that? Well I am not one of those to throw my camera to the side & say "I'm incredible I can't learn any more, I am the game changer." No. I can always improve, I can always learn more. I can always feel inspired. I can always Love my job & stand back & see where I can make myself better. This portrait was taken in the 5 minutes I had after a long, tiring, emotional & incredible day. It was taken with no light but what you see here. It was taken with pre vision. As in I arrived at the Chateau, I saw the festoon lighting, the pool reflection & wanted that shot. I hungered for that shot. & here it is.
I haven't done a 'destination' wedding before. I say destination like that because the very word annoys me. From the back streets of Leeds to the Yorkshire Dales to some little pub in the arse end of no where. YOU ARE ALL A DESTINATION. You are all place. But this place was pretty special as you are about to see. The amazing Tracy & David flew me to the absolutely awe inspiring Chateau Saint Michel in St Lizier France outside of Toulouse to celebrate their day like no other. Amidst family & friends they made this giant pink building of beauty their own home for a week.
& here was where I arrived in the midst of one of the biggest storms I have ever seen with the perfect travelling companion Victoria Farr Make Up & Hair Artist in a tiny red car inappropriately named "Red Flame" by Toulouse airport car rentals. & re named to "Giant used tampon" by some idiot with a camera.
& their as lightning struck & I stood amidst long time friends I realised what laid ahead was an experience I would never forget. The following day every one joined in to decorate the Chateau with chairs & tables pool side. The groomsmen arranged the entire ceremony venue amidst the highest point of St Lizier. For their amidst the mountains & the cathedral & the winding alleys David & Tracy spoke their vows.
& as words rolled across the French landscapes. It seems the clouds had heard the voices & shed tears upon the dry earth. With no shelter from the storm guests & family alike moved the entire outdoor reception inside the Chateau to make one of the most beautiful rooms I have ever seen. Speeches were made, bonds were made stronger. & finally beneath the fading light of a long Summers day their was one last dance.
The rain may have come. The Thunder may have spoken. But all that matters was the long embrace into a waking dawn.
Here's to David & Tracy
SIDE NOTE: I can not even begin to tell you how incredible wedding organisers, Samantha Ed & Ruby were throughout the whole journey. I have never seen three people go so above & beyond to make an experience for a couple. Not only did they make me feel so welcome but they were truly the machine behind the success on this most special of days. You guys are the best.
SHUTTER GO... LOST & FOUND ~ DAVID & TRACY
It's a good job I didn't end up lost in France when I was given the opportunity to pack my cameras & head off to photograph the wedding of the incredible David & Tracy back in August amidst the jaw droppingly beautiful St Lizier in France. My French is admittedly constrained to the fragmented memories of set six GCSE language. This hazy recollection consists of useful phrases such as "Im getting an aeroplane" & "I like Potatoes."
Now i'm not expert but I'm pretty sure there would be very little play of those two sentences if I'm asking for directions from the Pyrenees Mountains. My french teacher was an utter abomination too. At least half the class used to be sent out of the room to stare at a wall in the hallway until the end of the lesson. In fact, I think I learnt more about the quality of the plastering in my high school than I did actual French.
Thankfully though I'm not lost in France, But there's a couple of photographs that may not have seen the light of day without this here post of awesomeness. Yep, it's David & Tracy in this weeks lost & found...
You might have already seen photograph number one as it was featured over on the awesome Looks Like Film Daily Update a couple of weeks back. As I mentioned in the last lost & found it’s sometimes a real creative driver to spend some time on an image & experiment with the aesthetics of a single frame. Taken in just one of the many incredible white hallways of Chateau Saint Michel I just had to take the opportunity to show off this moment of Tracy & her Bridesmaids one more time.
With the strong contrasts of light & shadow in the scene. I wanted another transitional element to interplay within the photo. This time using a hot to cold graduation from bottom to top. Shadows from the edges to light in the middle. Warmth from the lowest point to cool at the highest. For me it gives a feeling of flow to the image & puts that immediate focal point right on the beautiful Bride Tracy in the centre.
The second image was taken right after the ceremony amidst the enchanting Saint Lizier. We managed to sneak into the beautifully quaint Cathedral right in the centre of this sleepy village. I took a ton of shots in this courtyard & positioned them amidst a series of archways in variating poses. This one pleases my brain in so many ways. Taken close to the wall on my right, I asked David & Tracy to position themselves in the right hand archway, hold each other close & do whatever they like.
Of course one romantic kiss later & we have a pure moment of simple adoration. I love the juxtaposition within this frame. The arches, the light to shadow contrast, the harsh angle of the wall to my right that leads the eye to the bottom corner & the kiss. I would imagine most photographers may have cropped this image & left out the negative space & sky at the top. But Ioften find myself composing with a bit too much headroom & the sky gives a beautiful contrast to that age old stone.
The third & final photograph for this week is one of Tracy & David amidst a picturesque alleyway in Saint Lizier's postcard worthy streets. I shared a different image from this sequence in the previews. That moment instead showed only David's hand as he passed the lens but I adore this one equally as much. We didn't have a huge amount of time for portraits but I knew I had to use this beautiful little corner. I positioned Tracy where David could walk past her in the street.
I get questioned a lot by other photographers for taking wedding photographs where the couple aren't kissing, smiling or not looking at each other. But aside from those badass portraits being one in over a thousand where a large proportion of the rest show the couple in the midst of all that soppy goodness. I also want to tell their story as individuals.
After all, perhaps even the most love struck humans on the planet were once just strangers passing in the street.